In recent years, we have had the opportunity to travel to some amazing parts of the world. From the Seregenti in Tanzania, the Bocas del Toro Islands in Panama, and the Lofoten Islands in Arctic Norway, there seems to be a direct correlation between the level of difficulty to get to a destination and the perspective that destination provides. We recently spent a week in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, one of those places that takes a lot of travel to get to, but which affords an incredible perspective on life once you are there. It is truly a unique destination and like these other places, really makes you appreciate how diverse and fragile our planet is. The trip itself was made easier by our daughter Jessie, who planned the group trip as one of her retreats and coordinated all the logistics. She plans her retreats to some very unique parts of our planet!
Thinking about the groundbreaking work that 22 year old Charles Darwin did in these islands in the 1830’s, and how radical his ideas were at the time, really makes you think about the evolution of all species, including our own! We spent time observing and interacting with the wide variety of species of animals, birds, and plants on the islands. Learning how they evolved while the islands remained uninhabited by humans until the nineteenth century is an eye opening experience. The animals on the Galapagos have no fear of humans; you are able to interact up close as the pictures show!
Coming back from this trip, I started thinking more about evolution and more specifically about how our firm has continued to evolve in the role we serve for our clients. When I started L.K. Benson & Company in 1994, my focus was to serve our clients, individuals and families, by helping them in all aspects of their personal finances. Back then, there were not many CPA’s offering these broader services, and the idea of our profession doing this was also pretty radical at the time. I wanted to provide these services, including financial planning, tax compliance and planning, estate planning, retirement and other services using cutting edge strategies and technology. We will celebrate our 25th anniversary later this year, and our firm has evolved over that time in response to our clients’ increasingly more complex planning needs.
The pace of change in the modern world continues to escalate as technology enables us to do things we never thought possible. Over the past 10 years, since Chris joined our firm, we have seen technology drastically change our lives. The iPhone has gone from a radical new device to something we depend on in our daily lives. Now we don’t even have to look things up, we can just ask Alexa or Siri! We are constantly challenged as a firm to keep up with advances in technology and strive to provide the best possible experience for our clients.
We recognize that change is never easy, but we also know the world around us is changing and if we don’t adapt, we won’t survive. As Darwin himself wrote,
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
We implemented some significant changes to our tax software this year, and while it was challenging at times during tax season, these changes enable us to better serve our clients. We also made a significant investment of time and money into new portfolio management software two years ago, resulting in a much more current and interactive experience for our clients. That transition was difficult but it has allowed us to spend much less time reconciling numbers and more time being proactive and doing the planning work we believe is so valuable. There are many other areas of our practice where we continually evaluate, test and implement new software with the goal of consistently moving our firm forward.
Technology isn’t the only way we evolve and adapt to our client needs. As new tax laws are written and capital markets change, our continued learning and education remains as important as ever. Chris and I both continue to take active leadership roles in the profession and attend/speak at numerous conferences around the country. We each also lead groups of our peers that regularly discuss areas of interest so that we have the benefit of the best thinking and practices in the country. Everyone in the firm takes regular courses in their areas of expertise and is encouraged to continue to grow their skillset.
Our mission continues to be to serve our clients in all areas of their personal finances. We want to be the person you turn to for any and all financial decisions or questions. We also want to create an environment where our team can thrive and continue to grow and serve our clients’ needs. We will continue to adapt and evolve our practice to serve the needs of our clients and their families for many years to come!
-Lyle K Benson, Jr., CPA, PFS, CFP
The views expressed represent the opinions of L.K. Benson & Company and are subject to change. These views are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendation, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The information provided is of a general nature and should not be construed as investment advice or to provide any investment, tax, financial or legal advice or service to any person. Please see Additional Disclosures more information.