What's Your Why: An interview with VP of Sales, Bruce Abrams
If there was a competition for the “GOAT of professional accounting technology,” Aiwyn would proudly nominate our VP of Sales, Bruce Abrams. Over his 30+ year career, Bruce has seen accounting evolve from paper-based, old-fashioned, tedious processes into a new season, enriched by technology and its associated advancements. Somewhere during this evolution, Bruce found his niche providing technology solutions to public accounting firms, fixing problems and simplifying processes for his peers in the profession. And this GOAT joined forces with Aiwyn to do exactly that.
Just over a week ago, Bruce traveled from his home in Israel to the Aiwyn headquarters in Charlotte, NC for a company meeting and holiday celebration. The Executive Leadership Team hosted a panel discussion with Bruce showcasing his passion for accounting technology, leaving the entire room in awe. It was in this moment that I realized there was a story to be told… so I scheduled time to sit down with the one and only, Bruce Abrams, and get to the root of what makes him what we believe, one of the GOATs in accounting technology.
Believe it or not, Bruce’s original goal wasn’t to be an accountant.
“Truth be told, I was planning on being a doctor. While I was in college, I fell in love and decided that I didn’t want to commit to 14 years of schooling. I wanted to jump into a career and start “doing.” so I looked for a lucrative profession that required four years of school and kind of fell into accounting.”
But how did Bruce actually get into technology within the accounting profession? Well, by implementing it firsthand.
“Prior to 1990, there was virtually no desktop tax software that met the needs of large firms. PC networks were brand new, as were the high volume laser printers that would ultimately enable us to print returns in our office. In 1990, we still relied on input sheets, manually copying data from one piece of paper to another. We sent those input sheets to a processing center daily, where an army of data entry clerks sat in front of green-screen terminals in rooms full of IBM mainframes. The processing center would then print and ship the resulting tax returns back to the firm for review, with the entire process taking a week, just to get a first draft.
During this time, I was working for a very large firm that was beginning a pilot implementation of early desktop tax software. Although still quite immature, the ability for a professional to enter tax data on screen and see calculated forms nearly instantly was game changing. My role at the firm expanded to include project managing that implementation, a role that ultimately served as my introduction to professional accounting technology and automation.
It was at the beginning of my career and I was young and fairly tech-savvy, so the new technologies didn’t scare me, and there were new tools and new challenges to figure out. The possibilities of those new advancements thrilled me, and greatly outweighed any challenges that came into play. At the end of implementation, I convinced the software company to hire me… the rest is history."
Fast forward to today, and Bruce’s career seems to have gone full circle.
"It all comes back to one guy: David Bergstein. David was the one who implemented that software at the firm I worked for in 1992.
Fast forward to December 2020, I received a phone call from David who told me about a new, innovative technology in the practice management space and suggested I talk with Justin Adams, CEO of Aiwyn, and Pat Morrell, CRO of Aiwyn, who both co-founded Aiwyn alongside Tanner Fritz, VP of Customer Success, Chris Furlong, Chief Technology Officer, and Ellen Choi, Chief Product Officer.
It was very clear to me that we were going to be building something special."
When asked what his initial reaction to Intelligence-Based Billing™ was, Bruce seemed genuinely awed.
“Wide-eyed. It is quite literally exactly what the accounting profession needs.
We still primarily charge our clients by the hour and we still send out manually prepared invoices, often months late. The process had been broken in the same way for decades, causing frustration for partners and clients alike.
I have been passionate about practice management for over 25 years and this was the first time that I had spoken with anyone who had looked at the process clearly, understood why and how it was broken, and knew what technology to employ to fix it.”
Selling a brand new solution for a brand new company has its hurdles, but that didn’t stop Bruce from jumping over them.
“With any new innovation, there are both challenges and successes. The specific challenge we had was a lack of name recognition. We quickly needed the accounting profession to know who Aiwyn was. People knew me, but didn’t know our company. At one point, one of my clients of longest standing asked me, “Ok…What’s an Aiwyn?” We still laugh about that to this day.
The successes came from those early, awkward conversations. We started to land customers; my first signed contract was with a large BDO Alliance member in Ohio. They quickly recognized the value of what we were doing and were anxious to get on board as soon as possible.”
It’s all about relationships.
“I believe that relationships are ultimately what everything is built on. Our job in sales is not the actual sale itself, but the creation of an enduring and trusted relationship. When I believe in a solution, and people trust in what I do, it benefits everyone. My goal in life is to create and nurture meaningful relationships… Sometimes we are just friends and sometimes we do business together.
Proof of the primacy of trusted relationships can be seen in my current sales team: Heather Mesquita, Todd Cooper, and Mark Pickett. We prioritize building genuine relationships together as a team and within the accounting profession.”
Fast forward to ten years into the future and Bruce predicts that our space will see the real potential in existing technology.
“Many of the technologies employed within the profession have been in existence for quite a while, but we still struggle to effectively leverage them. If you ask me where technology will be ten years from now within the accounting profession, I believe we will finally be realizing the benefits of these innovations and begin truly utilizing them. Ten years from now, I can’t imagine that we’ll still be entering tax data into software, and I can’t believe any partner at any firm will still be employing the “dark arts” manually manipulating WIP in order to bill their clients.”
The most important question of all: What’s your why?
“My continued motivation is to help a largely change-averse, conservative profession, embrace game changing technology, and in the process, to build Aiwyn into the tech powerhouse in that profession.
I believe that the profession has been woefully underserved in recent years by the incumbent software companies in the space. For example, many innovative tax, workflow, document management, and audit software companies have been acquired by larger companies that failed to maintain the pace of innovation. Aiwyn is in relentless pursuit of innovative technology solutions to the everyday business problems of our profession.
The professional accounting space has been my home for 30 years and it deserves top-notch technology. Justin Adams, CEO of Aiwyn, was the first person I’ve met who articulated this need. I don’t believe there is another company singularly committed to developing leading edge technology for this space.”
And there you have it, folks. Bruce Abrams’ work experience and personal characteristics pair together nicely, making him one of the most trusted leaders in the accounting profession. As 2022 approaches, you can expect to see Bruce at as many events as possible, doing what he loves most: building relationships, meeting with peers, and using Aiwyn to fix the problems in the accounting profession.