Author Topic: Is there a Tax Accounting Career that Fits this Description Exactly?  (Read 2004 times)

Gatzbie

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I would like to be knowledgeable on tax tips/tricks to help individuals/families save money. Also, I would like to help individuals/families pursue tax strategies for if they are investing in non commercial real estate on the side (rental properties/flipping homes). Maybe this could be my niche?

Are there certain job titles that do something like this? (the things I listed only!!!) My teacher told me I would have to get my CPA and go work for a public accounting firm that has many real estate clients but that I would probably still have to do tax work for things I'm not interested in like manufacturing firms etc.. She said being an enrolled agent would be good for doing families or individual peoples taxes but wouldn't be good for the more complicated stuff like real estate.

Any ideas for how I could make my idea "happen"? It seems that I would have to find a public accounting firm that only does the things I have mentioned... which may not exist.. (maybe I'm wrong here)
« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 11:36:51 AM by Gatzbie »

Cpa Cat

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Re: Is there a Tax Accounting Career that Fits this Description Exactly?
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2016, 12:15:36 PM »
This is a craft-your-own career situation.

1. To address EA vs CPA - An EA has the credentials and background to do what you want, BUT to have true control over your career, the CPA has more prestige. If you start your own firm, the individuals that you want to serve are far more familiar with a CPA. They don't know what an EA is and you'll have a harder time impressing them with your certificate. Individual clients are usually impressed by fancy certificates. Therefore, CPA is better for you. Having an EA instead of a CPA also limits your ability to get promotions if you decide to stay in a traditional public accounting environment. There is no reason to have both.

2. It sounds like you're still in school. The main thing you'll need to do when you graduate is seek out jobs at smaller firms. There will be a lot of pressure to go with Big 4 accounting firms but they won't get you the experience that you need with individuals/families and non-commercial rentals. For that you want a local firm, or a small national/regional firm. Keep in mind that salary at these types of firms may be a bit less than more prestigious Big 4 jobs - which leads me to my next point.

3. I suggest starting your own practice after a couple of years of experience. You'll suffer from wage stagnation at smaller firms if you stay there long (and yes, they will make you work on clients you don't care about). In order to truly shape your individual/rental focused career, you'll need to take control of it and focus on acquiring the kinds of clients you want, while avoiding those that you don't like. From there, you'll want to go around telling people that you're a rental property expert. Try to make it as true as possible by doing continuing ed and reading up on rental taxation (you'll also want to become very familiar with self-directed IRAs, which are a great tool for rentals).

So to answer your question - yes - this job exists. The ultimate job title is probably Self Employed CPA. The stepping stone job title is just tax associate.

The key to success here is that you need to take control of your own career. Don't quibble - if someone asks what you're interested in, tell them you want to be an individual tax/rental expert. Ask interviewers if they can give you that experience at their firm. Tell your managers that these are the types of clients you want to work on.
 
It would take time to build a practice that is only individuals and rentals. Individuals tend to own companies and start businesses, and you probably won't kick them out when they come to you with that.  But you can certainly market yourself as a rental expert and cater to that kind of clientele.

Keep in mind that while older, established firms may be bound by the local market - you don't have to be. If you go out on your own, there's no reason your clients have to be local. The right website and software tools will allow you to attract remote clients from all over the country, which can be an asset when you want to be a niche specialist.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 12:35:07 PM by Cpa Cat »

pbkmaine

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Re: Is there a Tax Accounting Career that Fits this Description Exactly?
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2016, 12:43:42 PM »
Adding to what Cpa Cat said, is there a particular state where you plan to practice? Go to that state CPA society and see what the requirements are for the CPA . Make sure you get those requirements. Some states specifically require audit experience for CPA certification. As an example, I only had 6 months of audit experience, and that was fine for my NJ CPA license. But I was not able to transfer my license to NY, because they require 1 year.

You might also want to join the state CPA society as a student member. CPAs generally love advising young people. You might find a CPA in your niche who would be willing to mentor you.

Gatzbie

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Re: Is there a Tax Accounting Career that Fits this Description Exactly?
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2016, 01:21:12 PM »
This is a craft-your-own career situation.

1. To address EA vs CPA - An EA has the credentials and background to do what you want, BUT to have true control over your career, the CPA has more prestige. If you start your own firm, the individuals that you want to serve are far more familiar with a CPA. They don't know what an EA is and you'll have a harder time impressing them with your certificate. Individual clients are usually impressed by fancy certificates. Therefore, CPA is better for you. Having an EA instead of a CPA also limits your ability to get promotions if you decide to stay in a traditional public accounting environment. There is no reason to have both.

2. It sounds like you're still in school. The main thing you'll need to do when you graduate is seek out jobs at smaller firms. There will be a lot of pressure to go with Big 4 accounting firms but they won't get you the experience that you need with individuals/families and non-commercial rentals. For that you want a local firm, or a small national/regional firm. Keep in mind that salary at these types of firms may be a bit less than more prestigious Big 4 jobs - which leads me to my next point.

3. I suggest starting your own practice after a couple of years of experience. You'll suffer from wage stagnation at smaller firms if you stay there long (and yes, they will make you work on clients you don't care about). In order to truly shape your individual/rental focused career, you'll need to take control of it and focus on acquiring the kinds of clients you want, while avoiding those that you don't like. From there, you'll want to go around telling people that you're a rental property expert. Try to make it as true as possible by doing continuing ed and reading up on rental taxation (you'll also want to become very familiar with self-directed IRAs, which are a great tool for rentals).

So to answer your question - yes - this job exists. The ultimate job title is probably Self Employed CPA. The stepping stone job title is just tax associate.

The key to success here is that you need to take control of your own career. Don't quibble - if someone asks what you're interested in, tell them you want to be an individual tax/rental expert. Ask interviewers if they can give you that experience at their firm. Tell your managers that these are the types of clients you want to work on.
 
It would take time to build a practice that is only individuals and rentals. Individuals tend to own companies and start businesses, and you probably won't kick them out when they come to you with that.  But you can certainly market yourself as a rental expert and cater to that kind of clientele.

Keep in mind that while older, established firms may be bound by the local market - you don't have to be. If you go out on your own, there's no reason your clients have to be local. The right website and software tools will allow you to attract remote clients from all over the country, which can be an asset when you want to be a niche specialist.

Wow... you addressed everything on my mind right now. Thank you so much for the effort you put into this post (thank you as well pbkmaine). This really opened me up on the things I'm going to need to do if I want to make my idea a reality and I'm very glad right now that its even possible to do so :).  This should help me with my tax internship interviews and meet N greets this month (starting this week) because now I know more about what to go after.

« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 01:28:58 PM by Gatzbie »

jwright

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Re: Is there a Tax Accounting Career that Fits this Description Exactly?
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2016, 09:55:28 AM »
I agree with the above that you need to obtain your CPA certification to give you the flexibility to move through your career how you'd like.

I worked at a "regional firm" for many years and they allowed you to select a niche industry to focus in.  I focused on real estate and high networth individuals.  Others focused on manufacturing, healthcare, nonprofits, etc.  This firm was in the top 25 largest in the country, but they still had plenty of individual clients.  However, it usually wasn't the average joe.  I don't know if you would be able to narrow your focus as much as you would like, but that's a good thing!  What if one of your clients wants to buy a commerical property?  Clients need advice in all aspects of their situations.  Being too narrowly focused limits your pool of clients.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Is there a Tax Accounting Career that Fits this Description Exactly?
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2016, 02:04:46 PM »
I agree with the above that you need to obtain your CPA certification to give you the flexibility to move through your career how you'd like.

I worked at a "regional firm" for many years and they allowed you to select a niche industry to focus in.  I focused on real estate and high networth individuals.  Others focused on manufacturing, healthcare, nonprofits, etc.  This firm was in the top 25 largest in the country, but they still had plenty of individual clients.  However, it usually wasn't the average joe.  I don't know if you would be able to narrow your focus as much as you would like, but that's a good thing!  What if one of your clients wants to buy a commerical property?  Clients need advice in all aspects of their situations.  Being too narrowly focused limits your pool of clients.

I agree with jwright. Depending on where you are, you might find that national level firms have the clients you're looking for in their local office. I worked at a small office for a Top-10 firm and got a lot of exposure to individual and small business clients. The key is to ask the firm's recruiters if they handle those types of clients at the office you're interviewing for. You don't necessarily have to avoid "Brand Name" firms - it just depends on your geographic region - and generally speaking, even in small regions, Big 4 isn't going to work.

Gatzbie

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Re: Is there a Tax Accounting Career that Fits this Description Exactly?
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2016, 03:54:52 PM »
I agree with the above that you need to obtain your CPA certification to give you the flexibility to move through your career how you'd like.

I worked at a "regional firm" for many years and they allowed you to select a niche industry to focus in.  I focused on real estate and high networth individuals.  Others focused on manufacturing, healthcare, nonprofits, etc.  This firm was in the top 25 largest in the country, but they still had plenty of individual clients.  However, it usually wasn't the average joe.  I don't know if you would be able to narrow your focus as much as you would like, but that's a good thing!  What if one of your clients wants to buy a commerical property?  Clients need advice in all aspects of their situations.  Being too narrowly focused limits your pool of clients.

That's cool that they let you choose your niche, I'd be willing to open up to doing tax work for commercial real estate people and even real estate businesses, but I'd like to still not open up too much to where I'm doing work for stuff I'm not very interested in.  Just don't want my career to be totally soulsucking to where I'm doing stuff I can't relate to.


I agree with jwright. Depending on where you are, you might find that national level firms have the clients you're looking for in their local office. I worked at a small office for a Top-10 firm and got a lot of exposure to individual and small business clients. The key is to ask the firm's recruiters if they handle those types of clients at the office you're interviewing for. You don't necessarily have to avoid "Brand Name" firms - it just depends on your geographic region - and generally speaking, even in small regions, Big 4 isn't going to work.

I have a meet N greet with a local CPA firm tomorrow, maybe I can ask these sort of things with the people there (and during my interviews). I'm glad Big 4 isn't going to work (I don't want to work for them)
« Last Edit: September 06, 2016, 03:58:30 PM by Gatzbie »

jwright

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Re: Is there a Tax Accounting Career that Fits this Description Exactly?
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2016, 02:18:07 PM »
If you are just starting out, I think its a good idea to not focus during your first tax season.  Get exposure to mulitple types of industries, entities and clients.  Spend your second tax season working on your niche.  After that you should have a CPA license and a Senior title; find a firm that specializes in your niche or start your own!  Be sure to keep up with continuing education and industry trends.