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McKenzie Robinson | SBJ

2021 Trusted Advisers Accountant: Shannon Terry

Abacus CPAs LLC

Posted online

Last edited 12:43 p.m., Sept. 8, 2021

Shannon Terry considers herself a straight shooter, using her moral compass to guide her in everything she does, but especially when it comes to her work as an accountant and controller.

“I’m proud of my consistent actions and professional values, and I will go to great lengths to do things right and behave ethically,” she says. “A trusted adviser should live the foundation centered on ‘people deserve better.’ I am hardwired to do exactly what I say I will do, and as a result, I garner respect from others genuinely, including those who have a hard time trusting others.”

As a controller, Terry works with all of Abacus’ clients and employees. Her job entails taking on projects such as improving the billing and accounts payable and receivable processes, and implementing online payment options. She recently completed $500,000 in billing projects for the firm’s transportation niche and its thousands of clients.

Terry says she takes a holistic approach to client billing.

“I work to accomplish the major and minor changes needed – and always look at the whole picture for each client, even if I am involved with just a tiny piece,” she says. “(It) ensures they have the best experience. They feel like a valued individual and stop problems before they start.”

Terry worked directly with some 2,000 clients last year representing annual billings of $5.1 million throughout the firm. Those Abacus clients had an approximate total net worth of $400 million in 2020.

Staying on the latest trends in the accounting industry is something Terry says she values due to the firm consistently growing by about 20% each year. She points out the need for automation and connectedness as key for the industry.

“I know we’ll be more successful if we can grow purposefully and systematically,” she says.

Earlier this year, Terry received the Abacus Value Award for Integrity, recognizing an employee that displays responsible, trustworthy and honest characteristics.

“Since I am trusted with a significant amount of responsibility within the firm, I value the trust placed in me and it’s made me more determined to serve as a values-based leader in the firm,” she says.

Terry also is chair for the firm’s Community Involvement Committee, which handles multiple community service projects each year, coordinates donations to local nonprofits and attends volunteer events. In this role, she has helped the firm donate more than $20,000 to local organizations, served at Diaper Bank of the Ozarks to gather 9,000 diaper packs for babies in need, volunteered at Ozarks Food Harvest and packed food supplies for 386 seniors.

Personally, she leads a group of about 15 women through Bible Study Fellowship, an international study group with thousands of classes worldwide. Through her membership at Springhill Baptist Church, she serves in the children’s program and on the event planning team.

“This is an important area of my life and helps remind me that everything is linked and our lives have purpose,” Terry says.

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