#FinInTech is Luminari’s initiative to introduce CPAs to the start-up world.
CPAs are undoubtedly well-equipped for accounting and finance roles, but don’t be intimidated if your passion lies elsewhere. We spoke with John Grant, CPA, CA, who not only left public accounting for the startup world—he launched his own app, joined a software development agency, and now manages multiple engineering teams at Wealthsimple.
From Audit to Coding
John began his career as an auditor and insolvency associate at RSM Richter. However, after getting his first iPhone in 2010, he fell in love with it immediately and started building an app during his free time.
Soon, John reached a crossroads in his career where his peers started working towards their insolvency trustee designations. Should John follow suit? Or should he pursue his love for apps? John realized he was way more interested in his side project, and thus turned app building from a hobby to a full-time endeavor.
Never Underestimate Your Ability to Learn
“Comfort is the enemy of growth, or success, or progress.”
Rather than going back to school, John decided to learn coding on his own and immediately launched Mobywan with his friends.
“To go back to school, you have to quit your job. There are so many strong and up-to-date sources online, and new ways of learning keep emerging. If you have the drive to teach yourself and learn, and you aren’t afraid to make mistakes, that’s a great thing. I did a lot of free online courses, which was enough to get me back into the flow.”
John’s passion for app development eventually led him to Wealthsimple.
“Wealthsimple was a super natural fit with my own finance background. Managing your finances can be difficult and confusing, and so I thought the mission of making it accessible to everybody was incredible.”
Since joining, John has become the Director of Engineering and now oversees multiple teams across the company.
“One of the skills that has helped me the most is applying business insights and priorities to engineering products. When it’s a hobby, you just build what you want to build. In startup-land, you have to ship and iterate and get things done. It is a constant struggle between shipping things too early versus too late, so having that business background helps clarify the prioritization that goes into those decisions.”
For other CPAs thinking of transitioning out of traditional roles, we asked John for his advice…
“You might find there is a big hump to get over. Change is hard—but comfort is the enemy of growth, or success, or progress. My biggest turning point was when I would go home and spend all my time to learn, grow, and teach myself in new ways.
There are constantly new types of jobs that didn’t exist before. The job I have now wasn’t apparent to the people who advised me growing up. Follow your passion, and you’ll end up happy. It’s never too late to transfer the skills you learned to a different environment. You can be successful in different places.”