insight magazine

IN Play: Q&A With Anna Kooi, CPA

Wipfli's national financial services practice lead uses her passion for coaching softball as an inspiration for developing the 300-plus associates she oversees. By Derrick Lilly | Spring 2020

Watercolor_Kooi-310With more than 20 years of public accounting experience that has seen her relocate multiple times throughout the Midwest—and birth children in four states— it’s no wonder that Illinois CPA Society member Anna Kooi, CPA, now has “national” in her formal title. The Wipfli LLP partner, and now national financial services practice lead, will oversee more than 300 associates serving more than 1,000 organizations nationally. The promotion is a home run for this veteran CPA, softball player, and coach who plans to bring her passion for leading and inspiring teams to the forefront as she tries to knock it out of the park in her new role.

How do your personal passions play into your professional life?

While building a successful career, I found balance by marrying my love for coaching and mentoring with my love for softball. I played softball and have now coached my daughters’ travel softball teams for the last 12 years. Leading and inspiring teams to achieve their highest potential (professionally and personally) is a passion of mine.

Your promotion puts you in charge of a huge team. How will you make an impact on it?

When I started my career in the public accounting profession, there were very few female leaders as role models. I recognized early on in my career I wasn’t one of the guys and I didn’t need to pretend to be one. My best bet was to just be myself and be authentic. I’ve tried to carry that through the rest of my career as well.

Part of being an authentic leader is talking about the real challenges the profession faces. What are those?

In a world that is already amid a major change due to technological advancement, the business of accounting is evolving to meet the demands of a new, fast-paced culture. Our clients expect us to stay two steps ahead of them and know where their industries are headed, how they can implement automation, deal with the war on talent, and identify opportunities to improve operational performance.

The pace of change in our profession is both exciting and stressful. Guiding our professionals through the change and getting them to think differently, embrace the technological changes, and stay ahead of the business risks within their respective industries is both a large ask and imperative. But we are an ambitious, adaptable, and goal-oriented group. As a firm, we are training our next generation on having a consultative mindset.

What is one of the big initiatives you’re working on to prepare for the future as technology takes over more finance functions?

Wipfli is proud to be one of around 40 CPA firms that have collectively committed approximately $50 million to the AICPA-led Dynamic Audit Solution (DAS) initiative. We’ve invested financial and human resources to developing this technologyenabled audit approach, putting us on the ground floor of the future. It is likely that audit teams of the future will not only be staffed by CPAs or CPA-eligible candidates who have the common accounting and auditing skill sets of today. With technology, our audits will be conducted differently—perhaps by a team of those with GAAP/GAAS skill sets, technology-based skill sets, and data analytics expertise.

Is there anything about the CPA profession you personally hope to influence given your growing reach?

A passion of mine is to make a positive impact on our profession by ensuring we are building inclusive and diverse teams and cultures, including supporting more women leaders. Studies have shown that diverse teams and organizations are more successful.

What insight do you have for peers seeking similar success as you?

Run to fires, not away.

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