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    MST CPAs and Advisors

    MST CPAs & Advisors Break from Traditional Accounting Firms

    January 2016
    By David Zaslawsky   
    Photography by Robert Fouts

    Although the Commerce Street address in downtown Montgomery is a traditional site for an accounting firm, MST CPAs & Advisors is far from the traditional accounting firm.

    First of all, the three partners are young by traditional standards. There are two Generation X members and a Millennial.

    Secondly, take a look at the website. “Your success is our passion” screams off the site. Under the heading “our firm” you come across these two subjects: “the importance of the relationship” and “the importance of assisting you.”

    This is definitely a different approach, and that’s why the three partners – Michael Shaw, Jeremy Moreland and Jody Thrasher – left a large, local accounting firm and formed MST 14 months ago at the Hobbie Building.

    “Fundamentally, one of the things that we like is the idea of being able to set our own vision and lay the path we want to do and be responsible for that,” Moreland said. It’s about being your own boss – being small business owners, and as Moreland said, deciding on which clients to take on; what type of work to do; and “even down to how we manage our day, our staff and everything else.”

    Shaw said that today’s businesses are more mobile and the “generation coming up is more entrepreneurial. The skills that are needed to help that business and getting it going – whether it’s business planning or even strategically planning for older businesses – that’s a little bit outside the core concepts of an accounting firm.”

    He said the partners have developed “pretty good expertise” in all the platforms that businesses utilize and recommend how a company can improve its workflow.

    The firm wants to become a strategic partner with their clients and communication is the key. That’s why MST does not charge by the hour. They don’t want to discourage a client from calling and asking questions. They encourage it. “We simply eliminate that barrier (hourly charges) to good communication,” Shaw said.

    “We’re not just talking to clients once or twice a year,” Thrasher said. “We’re talking to them in many cases daily, weekly or minimum-monthly basis.” He said the firm seeks “a kind of in-depth relationship” with its clients.

    The firm aspires to be “an integral partner – a strategical partner – with our clients,” Thrasher said. “We want them to call on us and not be afraid to pick up the phone because we’re not going to bill them in six-minute increments.”

    It all starts with what the partners called an “on-boarding process.” That is a sit-down with a client to thoroughly understand not only their business, but their goals as well. “It’s more of a continued relationship …” Shaw said.

    On the website it states that MST wants to develop a “comprehensive” understanding of a client’s business.

    “We really wanted to try to implement a different model that was outside of a traditional large firm – whether it be a large law firm or accounting firm model,” Thrasher said.

    Although MST CPAs has been in a business a short time, the feedback has been quite positive, as Shaw said that their clients have been the firm’s “biggest referral sources in terms of either increasing the work that we do or letting their peers know that this is what MST is doing.” Attorneys, bankers and financial advisers have also referred clients to MST.

    There are some long-term goals such as expanding their consulting business and perhaps adding services as needed. The partners are looking at hiring another employee this year – possibly a tax accountant or bookkeeper-level accountant.

    “Five years from now, (when) we look at our client list and see that we have maintained the clients that we have now and grown organically through our relationships with them – we’re going to be very happy,” Shaw said. “It goes back to client satisfaction being the most important thing to what we do.”

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