Course aims to kickstart CAS practices


Accounting firms looking to explore client advisory services don’t have to learn from their own mistakes — now they can learn from W. Michael Hsu’s mistakes.

Hsu launched one of the profession’s earliest CAS practices, DeepSky, in 2009, and has just released a six-week bootcamp course, “From CPA to CFO,” that incorporates the lessons he learned from leading it to success over the past decade. For example, Hsu said it took a while for him to find the courage to let go of clients who wasn’t working out, mainly because that client represented 50% of his revenue. The need to make up for this loss necessitated fast thinking of how to find new clients, fast.

“You know, these are not the right clients, and I thought there goes 50% of my revenue, so now what? How do I actually get the right clients? How do I actually set and understand our clients and be able to create value and tie that to this question that inspired the entire course… For one example, distilling that down to, ‘hey what is your time worth Mr. CEO? And if a fourth of that time is outsourced, could that be better for you?'” he said. 

The course includes six individual lessons; six hours of educational and informative videos; more than 15 exercises, tools and templates; assignments to reinforce the training; and real-life case studies.

Hsu said he was inspired to develop it during an accounting conference when an accountant in the audience suggested that firms weren’t making the most of CAS and outsourced CFO services because they were never specifically taught how. “He was right,” said Hsu. “We graduate from school. We get our CPA. And then what? Maybe CPE and more credentials. But none of this programming was teaching us how to be a CFO, or how to create value for our clients, or how to actually utilize what we learned.” 

One of the common errors Hsu sees firms making with CAS is committing half-heartedly to the practice area, offering the services not so much because they’re especially interested or skilled at them, but because they heard firms that offer these things make more money. Hsu said that firms must be prepared to devote the time to really understanding the nature of the services they’re offering and delivering them at high quality. 

The course is meant for people who are genuinely interested and ready to act on offering these services. So, too, is the community of people Hsu intends to build around those who have gone through it. The plan is that he will personally work with the initial cohort of learners, providing personal video meetings to go over the coursework and see where they are having trouble. The idea is that, once this cohort is trained, they can be the initial seed for this community by going on and helping others pass the course as well. The plan is for there to eventually be a large pool of people with these skills who can overall grow the community of those with outsourced CFO and other CAS skillsets.

“The initial release is meant to be a bootcamp. I don’t want this to just be a Facebook group. You are committed. You have taken the course. You understand the fundamentals. So everyone has a baseline, and we can go from there,” he said. In this respect, at least to start, the course is just as much about recruiting as it is about educating. Hsu said he wants “a group of solid, six to eight, ten max, of the right people with the right intention who have really bought into this” and once this initial cohort is trained they can then be a resource to newer learners who, over time, can themselves be trained and be resources to newer learners still. It is this aspect that Hsu finds particularly exciting. 

“The boot camp is nice, but what I’m really excited about is creating this community of people saying, ‘I get it and want to be a part of it.’ Holding each other accountable, sharing, pushing each other [to more success],” he said.  

“From CPA to CFO” is available starting at $2,500. For more information, visit

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