It was 1993, and I was an employee of IBM, which was in the process of downsizing. Many employees were being offered attractive early retirement packages. With 20 years of service behind me, I jumped at the chance to move my career in a different direction.
As part of the package, IBM provided outplacement services with Drake, Beam, and Morin (DBM), a firm that offers counseling and career transition services. I took several tests to assess my skills, interests, values, and outlook on life; I learned that I was a natural problem-solver. Further, I discovered that my core values included the desire to make a difference in people’s lives and assist them in achieving their financial goals.
With this insight about my skillset, along with a strong interest in business and investments, I obtained my insurance and securities licenses. Then, I decided to go back to school at the age of 40-something to earn an MBA with a concentration in accounting. During the time I was in school, I founded my practice, providing accounting, payroll, investment counsel, and financial reporting services to small, closely-held businesses and their owners. In the 11th year, I added income tax return preparation to my arsenal of services.
My next big move was in 2007, when I decided to try for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation.
In addition, I secured the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) certification, given only to Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Both were important milestones for me. I had already been providing investment and asset/income protection guidance to my clients, but these certificates enhanced my credentials as a trusted advisor.
Financial planning and income tax preparation are all about assessing needs, developing tax-efficient solutions, and helping the client implement those solutions. That means making sure people stay on track with the tasks and activities necessary to reach their goals. If the objectives change, we can modify the plan components.
It’s part of my mission to be proactive, look at the whole picture, and guide my clients through all aspects of their business and personal situation—I don’t just do their accounting or prepare their tax returns. It’s a holistic approach and one that positively impacts their tax picture as well.
I truly believe that if one has one’s financial life in order, then the path is cleared for everything else to go more smoothly—and more successfully!
Sallie Mullins Thompson CPA PLLC