Maryland’s reputation as a hotbed of accounting and finance thought leadership and influence continues to grow.

Samantha Bowling, CPA, CGMA, a partner with Garbelman Winslow in Upper Marlboro, Md., and chair of the Maryland Association of CPAs’ Board of Directors, is one of two winners of CPA.com’s 2018 Innovative Practitioner Award, which recognizes innovation in process, services, or technology implementation in public accounting.

Bowling and her Garbelman Winslow team are successfully integrating artificial intelligence in auditing for small businesses and non-profits. Using an external A.I. platform called MindBridge A.I., the firm has improved the audit process and helped reduce the risk of material misstatements for its clients. As an early adopter, she is providing valuable input to help make the technology more usable for other firms.

“I am happy to help small firms learn how to work smarter, not harder,” Bowling said. “Small firms spend so much time just trying to get their work done and not enough time asking the question, ‘How can technology help me to do this better and more efficiently?’ I ask myself this question every day. It’s time to invest in technology and fix the broken processes.

“Investing in technology is investing in ourselves and the quality of our work,” she added. “We cannot help our clients adapt to this rapidly changing environment if we are not there ourselves. This is a huge honor, and I am excited to see how the next new technology will improve our lives and our businesses.”

Bowling is one of two winners of the 2018 award. The other, Jagruti Solanki, CPA, CGMA, a senior manager for Aprio, LLP, helped launch the firm’s blockchain services group and has been instrumental in developing best practices for accounting and financial reporting related to the digital distributed-ledger technology. Among other services, her team helps clients navigate blockchain implications for domestic and international accounting, as well as tax obstacles associated with tokenization, initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency.

“Samantha and Jagruti define what being an innovative practitioner is all about: the ability to assess where the profession is going, incorporate emerging technologies to either improve an existing service or launch a new one, and then successfully position the practitioner’s firm as a leader in that area,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. “Both blockchain and A.I. stand to make a big impact on the profession and our honorees are both advancing strategies around these technologies for their firm.”

Two other Maryland practitioners were finalists for the award:

  • David Butler, CPA, a partner with Rosenbloom & Butler, CPAs, in Rockville, Md. Butler implemented a software solution at his firm called Complex Interests, which allows the firm to take its practice of stewardship over complex family wealth and turn it into work product for the firm’s clients. Among other things, the software automatically generates diagrams of the complex entity relationships found in the families’ estates.
  • John “Rusty” Davis, CPA, principal at Davis & Associates, P.A. Davis has spent the past few years rebuilding Davis & Associates into a firm for the digital age — cloud-based, flexible, remote, mobile. Services have been streamlined into bundled, high-end advisory / reporting / tax / technology engagements. Client data is accessible in real time. Timesheets have been trashed. Revenues have been transitioned to fixed-fee, monthly ACH agreements. “Early adopters we became,” he said.

Bowling and Solanki will be invited to attend CPA.com’s 2018 Digital CPA Conference as guests. This year’s event will be held Dec. 3-5 at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center outside Washington, D.C.

In addition, Bowling, Butler and Davis will be recognized during the MACPA’s 2018 CPA Summit, scheduled for Dec. 6 at the Sheraton Baltimore North hotel in Towson, Md. For details and to register, visit MACPA.org/Summit.

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