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Meet The All-Star Lineup Of Gusto People Speaking At Gusto Next 2022

Caleb Newquist Editor-at-Large, Gusto 
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With Gusto Next 2022 just around the corner, buzz is building around our incredible lineup of speakers. 

For the uninitiated, Gusto Next is our annual company-wide conference for accounting and tax professionals who are interested in getting ahead of industry trends related to payroll, benefits, HR, financial wellness, and People Ops. This year’s event promises to be a lively and engaging gathering that unites professionals from around the nation in one place — with access to formal education, thought-provoking keynotes, topical breakout sessions, and, best of all, peer-to-peer networking.

In this article, we shine a spotlight on three Gusto employees who will be speaking at the event and, and share a sneak peek at their talks. As part of the team who makes the magic happen, they can provide the inside scoop on trends for accounting professionals, as well as where our product and our community is headed in the coming months. Their sessions all have different focuses, but you can be sure they’ll all touch on how to differentiate your firm, how to harness data and technology, and how to care for the humans behind the business. 

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Jaclyn Anku, Training and Education at Gusto

1. What will you speak about at Gusto Next?

Firm leaders need to develop and retain high-performing teams to grow their businesses. But, in a tight labor market, this can feel hard — if not impossible. 

In my session, I’ll share how you can grow your firm through more fully realizing the value of your team. By creating a culture of learning that celebrates diversity of thought and rewards ongoing professional development, firm leaders can nurture a well-trained and loyal team, poised to deliver the services your clients need. 

I’ll also share what the Gusto Training and Education team has been busy making! We are incredibly excited to unveil our newest programs, which will help folks in our community build their confidence, knowledge, and skill set across every stage of their career. 

2. What’s the biggest change you’ve observed in the accounting industry over the past two years?

Once upon a time, there was a straight and narrow path to becoming an accountant. Typically, it started with an undergraduate degree, then a master’s, and possibly a CPA. 

Today, there are fewer students following this traditional path. Firm leaders are being forced to adapt, and have started hiring from non-traditional backgrounds. 

From my point of view, the need to bring on diverse talent has forced firm leaders to consider what type of professional development their team needs, and how they can train on both the technical and soft skills needed to deliver the services clients have now come to expect, such as People Advisory.   

3. Tell us about the most gratifying moment you’ve had at work over the past year.

As an educator, the most gratifying moments of my career are when I see learners have “aha moments.” I feel such joy when their eyes light up with a new understanding of a familiar concept, and they come to see their role in a new light. 

Every month, I have the privilege of joining my colleagues on our People Advisory ‘Live’ Certification program which is taught by Carla Caldwell, Nayo Carter-Gray, and Annie Arthur. A unique part of the program is the roleplaying, which asks our learners to stretch out of their comfort zones and take on the role of advisor and practice what they’ve learned. 

Recently, I had the joy of watching a student beautifully apply what she’d learned during a roleplay exercise. Over the course of the training, she strengthened her ability to deliver impactful advice to clients on how they can create a great place to work where their team feels valued and cared for. This was an absolute delight to see!

4. What’s a feature in Gusto’s product that you feel is underutilized?

Now that we’re in a less acute phase of the pandemic, it’s become clear that remote work is here to stay. Personally, I enjoy working from home and have benefitted from the increased flexibility and family time it’s afforded me. 

Many of our accounting partners are helping clients navigate building remote and hybrid teams. Many times, this means hiring across state lines. State tax registration is notoriously tricky and time-consuming. This is why I’m thrilled that Gusto now partners with CorpNet to streamline tax registration across all 50 states. 

Through the CorpNet partnership, accountants can better help clients build remote teams, and get time back in their day to focus on higher-value conversations.  

5. What are you most excited about in Gusto’s product roadmap?

Oh. That’s easy. Definitely our investment into People Advisory. I won’t say more, other than you need to register for Gusto Next so you can be the first to know. 

Bernard C. Coleman III, Chief Diversity and Engagement Officer at Gusto

1. What are you going to speak about at Gusto Next? 

I’m going to share how you can build an effective blueprint for employee engagement, a topic I’m truly excited about.

2. What’s the biggest change you’ve observed in the accounting industry over the past two years?

Increased complexity. Accounting was already complex but the pandemic introduced even greater complexities to our tax code, and accountants have had to be the tip of the spear in understanding those new changes. That knowledge translated into delivering increased value and assurance to their clients.

3. Tell us about the most gratifying moment you’ve had at work over the past year.

The most gratifying moment I’ve had at work over the last year has been how my team has endured and pulled together. The last year has been a relative rollercoaster of ups and downs, yet my team took each turn with grace and have performed strongly. It’s truly a testament to my team and embodying perseverance through the ambiguity caused by the pandemic.

4. What’s a feature in Gusto’s product that you feel is underutilized?

HR Concierge. When I first started as a HR Director earlier in my career, there was so much complexity and I had to use a ton of different resources to ensure that I was running payroll properly or administering FMLA correctly. Much of my learning was on the job — it was a mix of well-honed Google searches, scouring the SHRM website, or calling employment counsel. What HR Concierge offers is unlimited advice from SHRM and HRCI-certified experts with years of HR experience. I would have loved to have had a service like that to help make my job easier.

5. What are you most excited about in Gusto’s product roadmap?

There’s so much but if I had to choose, it’d be Gusto Wallet. Having worked in the people space for the last 16 years — running payroll, designing total rewards offerings, and really understanding the needs of employees. Gusto Wallet is a service that people need. I think the possibilities are really neat to have a checking account connected as well as other financial tools.

Will Lopez, Head of Accountant Community at Gusto

1. What are you going to speak about at Gusto Next?

For a profession in transition, the future brings two things into sharp focus: people and data. As a platform for the modern workforce, Gusto differentiates itself by bringing people and data together — a unique combination of warm, human-centricity and data insights powered by a modern, frictionless experience. Through our accountant empowerment programs and data-driven platform, we help accounting professionals drive business success for their firms and clients while celebrating the humans that make it possible. At Gusto Next, you’ll hear me touch on how to use data and technology to do more for clients together with peers, differentiate your firm to attract the best talent in the community, and care for the people at the center of it all – yourselves.

2. What’s the biggest change you’ve observed in the accounting industry over the past two years?

The accounting profession’s talent crisis is progressively worsening, opening up new opportunities to hire team members from different industries. According to the latest AICPA trends report, the total hiring of recent accounting graduates in 2020 decreased by 10%, while new non-accounting graduates hired into accounting and finance functions increased by 10%. Accounting firms are filling open jobs with non-accountants and leaning into software vendors’ resources to educate and expedite these new teammates’ accounting skill sets to succeed. In addition, firms are leveraging the peer-to-peer communities offered by tech companies to connect their employees to those seasoned pros, collapsing learning curves.

3. Tell us about the most gratifying moment you’ve had at work over the past year.

I’m most grateful for the work our team is up to around community and education, Gusto is on pace to best support and leave a legacy for the accounting profession. It differs from what I see across the payroll industry, partner programs that only support one aspect of an accountant’s life – getting work done.

While completing client work faster and on time (every time) through software is essential, accounting professionals are more than just doers of tasks. They are dynamic, beautiful humans. My industry peers seek human moments, meaningful connections, continuous growth, and peer-to-peer interactions. Accountants of all backgrounds deserve professional development for every step of their career and community for every moment in their journey, not simply software that quickly gets work done. At Gusto, we’re devoted to partnering with accounting professionals for who they are, not just what they do.

[Pull quote: Accounting professionals are more than just doers of tasks. They are dynamic, beautiful humans.]

4. What’s a feature in Gusto’s product that you feel is underutilized?

The most underutilized feature of Gusto, in my opinion, is the Team Insights feature. Team Insights is a great way to take a pulse on how your employees are feeling about a wide range of themes at work. Topics rotate monthly to encourage employees to share their thoughts across focus areas like: management, morale and retention, and benefits. Team Insights allows you to focus on one topic per month and encourages more thoughtful responses from the team. And changing the questions every month also helps everyone stay engaged. Pairing your quantitative analysis with rich qualitative data straight from the source is one of the many things that sets you apart as a People Advisor.

5. What are you most excited about in Gusto’s product roadmap?

As a long-time accountant, I am most excited about what we will announce at Gusto Next 2022 for the accounting profession. I’m sure you saw that answer coming. Our announcements will not be just run-of-the-mill feature updates (ours are anything but). You’ll see drastic leaps in how partner program experiences should be designed – best in class, of course. And that’s cool! While I cannot share our Gusto Next 2022 announcements just yet (you’ll have to be there for that), I can say that our roadmap will keep you at the forefront of our evolving industry. It will provide a meaningful career through payroll, quickly build and scale your network with industry leaders from around the U.S., and give you the tools to turn people-data into immediate advisory opportunities with clients.

Our speakers would love to meet you. See you there?

Whether you’re thinking of joining us live in Denver, September 27-28 or online on September 28, we would be thrilled to have you join the event. It’s you — our attendees — who are truly the heart and soul of Gusto Next. If you’re even the slightest bit curious about how you can be a more people-focused and data-driven accounting professional or leader, do yourself the favor of investing in your learning and growth. We promise your employees and customers will thank you for it.

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Caleb Newquist
Caleb Newquist Caleb is Editor-at-Large at Gusto. In 2009, he became the founding editor of Going Concern, the one-of-a-kind voice on the accounting profession, serving in the role for 9 years. Prior to Going Concern, Caleb worked as a CPA for nearly 6 years in New York and Denver. He lives in Denver with his wife, two daughters, and two cats.
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