"In St. Louis, your ability to succeed is limitless"

Jennah Purk, Founder & CEO - Purk Associates

Talking about innovation in accounting is sort of like talking about water and oil. They aren’t exactly synonymous, and while it’s not like we’re using an abacus, we’re not far off. It’s also not as boring as people think it is. But the two things that obstruct the industry are technology and law—literal acts of Congress. While one is easy to keep up with, the other is not. You find that you’re often trying to plan for the future with no certainty about what the regulations will be around any given industry

Even so, the technological innovation around accounting—beyond mobile apps—has to happen. There’s too much opportunity to do things wrong, whether on purpose to avoid and evade, or on accident because you don’t have the information you need to do it correctly. With new industries coming online, these changes will be especially important. With the marijuana industry, for example, banks aren’t sure what money they can take in without jeopardizing their FDIC insurance. And what’s going to happen with tax laws and how they will affect entrepreneurs is nothing but a giant question mark.

I think we’re going to see more “horizontal” innovation, which is to say that all of the technology we have now is going to get better—as opposed to “vertical” integration, or a complete overhaul of the processes we currently use. Even with horizontal innovation, we’re still limited by the human element; we can only rationalize so much data, regardless of how it is entered.

The human element is not always a disadvantage, and this is especially true in St. Louis in terms of access. We have remarkable access in St. Louis. When you hire a law or accounting firm, you can talk to the partner, not a third-level intern who will take notes and maybe pass your questions up. You can get hold of the people you want to get hold of the same day. That’s lost in so many other large cities.

Because of that access, any entrepreneur can be successful in St. Louis if they come in and engage with the people who inspire them, people around them who are doing what they want to do. Your ability to succeed is limitless. We have amazing support organizations in St. Louis, and if you pull up the members’ information on LinkedIn and call them, they will answer. There’s no reason not to succeed if you engage.

We have so many privately held companies competing globally, and I can’t think of an industry or company in St. Louis that’s not making the world a better place. What’s ironic is that truth doesn’t often square with what people think of the city, whether they live here or elsewhere. It’s almost as if we need a PR firm, better press, to change that narrative. I say that hesitantly, though, because we also have so much to protect.

I had an opportunity to spend some time with President George W. Bush, and one of the things that he talked about was moving forward regardless of the press surrounding you. Because the only reality exists in what you are doing— not in what someone else says you are doing. I think that’s so applicable here. As entrepreneurs, we need to start being more vocal about why we are in St. Louis, why we’ve chosen to build our businesses here, employ hundreds of thousands of people there, raise our families, and why we don’t leave. I don’t think the barriers to success here could be any lower, and it’s my responsibility to start saying that.

Purk Associates

Ofc (314) 884-4009 Cell (314) 753-9830
[email protected]
1034 South Brentwood Boulevard Suite 2000 St. Louis, MO 63117

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