Respected CPA Picked Up by the FBI!!
That’s right! Let me tell you my story…
The journey I began in the idyllic setting of my childhood in the Alexander Valley of Sonoma County – to having my own practice as a CPA and CFP in Santa Rosa – has had some interesting side trips.
In high school I was a drama major and was in all the school plays. It was great fun. But after high school, my dad told me that it was not likely that I would get to star as the next James Bond. His advice was to give up acting, go to college and get a real job. Not sure of what I wanted to do, I looked into various options. A friend of mine was in the police science program at Santa Rosa Junior College and talked me into joining him there.
I graduated from Santa Rosa Junior College in 1976 with an A.S. degree in police science. After that, I tried out different types of work in law enforcement, working for the Healdsburg Police Department, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and the Novato Police Department.
Then one day I got picked up by the FBI!!
Yep – I was sent to Washington, D.C. to do hard-labor. Wow, was that an experience for a country boy from Healdsburg! It was a great adventure. The only problem was that I couldn’t afford the out-of-state tuition in Virginia to finish my bachelorâ€™s degree, something that was required for promotion. I found myself caught between a rock and a hard place. Pretty naive, huh? I stayed there for about seven months and decided to come home and enroll at Sonoma State University. My plan was to get my degree in accounting (which is what the FBI wanted) and then head back to D.C.
From white-collar crime to white-collar work…
While I was working on my accounting degree, I decided to apply what I was learning and get a job, as I needed the money while pursuing my education. Somewhere along the way, I lost my desire to be a G-man and found a new love in the business of financial consulting. I decided I’d rather “police” money than behavior, and along the way â€œarmedâ€ myself with both CPA and CFP certifications.
I became a licensed stockbroker in 1978 and joined American Capital, a large firm based in Dallas. Through them I was able to develop my own investment consulting practice. I received training and experience with stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate investment trusts, real estate limited partnerships, oil and gas limited partnerships, hard-assets (i.e., diamonds), annuities, and life and disability insurance. IÂ worked with some very bright, successful people, and got to do some traveling as well. However, one drawback was that these were all commission based sales. I also disliked the biases inherent in the system and the abuses I saw taking place.
So, when tax season came around, I decided to add seasonal tax preparation along with my investment consulting work. This was when I really became aware of how beneficial my tax knowledge was in conjunction with my investment work. After that first tax season, I continued doing income tax preparation from my investment consulting office.
In 1979, I married my junior college sweetheart, Terri, who I had been dating for four years. She has been a great helpmate in my life and is my best friend. We have three fantastic kids, and they have all pitched in and helped with my business.
Now back to the office story…
Hereâ€™s where I got Involved with the BIG Money.
I was accumulating invaluable experience up to this point, but I still didnâ€™t have any real â€œcredentials. So, in 1986, I joined the Santa Rosa CPA firm of Pisenti & Brinker (P&B). At that time, they were the largest local CPA firm. At P&B, I worked on auditing financial statements for companies in various industries and earned my CPA license. I passed my exams on the first try, which confirmed for me that I was headed in the right professional direction.
With the background I had in investments and insurance, P&B asked me to be part of a personal financial planning department they were developing. I especially enjoyed this experience, because for the first time I got to do unbiased analyses of client investment portfolios on a fee-only basis. I worked alongside Ed Pisenti, Bill Robotham, Gary Andrews and Irv Rothenberg in developing and implementing financial plans for some of Sonoma Countyâ€™s wealthiest residents. During this time, I also attended the College for Financial Planning and earned my CFP designation.
I left P&B in 1991 to take the position of financial manager at the Sonoma County Employees Retirement Association. In this job, I supervised the preparation of monthly financial statements, a monthly payroll for 1,800 retirees, and participated in the investment committeeâ€™s management of $700 million in pension funds. I learned a lot about pension plans from working on the inside and dealing with the actuaries on a regular basis. Also, exposure to the institutional world of investment management was a welcomed stretch beyond my prior experience of consulting with individuals and developing investment strategies.
Another invaluable experience was my involvement in the day-to-day affairs of the business. I participated in the hiring process of employees, tracking their performance and determining promotions. I was also involved in purchasing, information technology and lease and contract negotiations. I did this for seven years and gained knowledge in areas I never would have as a CPA.
Let me tell you, this CPAs got his eyes opened!!!
Most CPAs never have the opportunity of running a “real” business. In large CPA firms, CPAs generally don’t participate in the management of the firm, nor are they closely involved with the actual business operations of their clients. Believe me you gain a whole different perspective when you deal with the other side of the coin, as I did. I can’t think of a single other experience that impacted me more when it comes to understanding my small business clients and seeing issues from their perspective.
Not many CPAs have developed these skills, and not because they’re not smart or innovative enough. The nature of most CPA work simply doesn’t encompass this aspect of the “real world”. When it comes to working with retirement plans, large complex payroll systems, institutional money management and implementing personal financial plans for high net-worth families, a CPA typically has only peripheral exposure to these components. I can personally relate to my individual and small business clients in dealing with their day-to-day financial issues — and delve further than usual into the challenges of running a business — because I have actually had to do the hands-on, hard work.
Now, bear with me here. I’m not sharing these experiences to “impress” you. I only want to “impress upon” you the value and depth of my varied background. It is what makes me able to say that my firm genuinely provides “Better Advice for Your Money.”
Time to move on, young man!
In January 1998, after seven years with the pension plan, I left and took a position as a senior financial advisor with the investment management firm of Core Asset Management in San Rafael. I did this because I missed working with individual clients and helping them achieve their financial goals. This firm had been built up by Anne Lieberman and then sold to an attorney from New York. I was stepping in as a replacement for Anne as she transitioned in to retirement. I enjoyed working with clients from all over the San Francisco bay area, assessing their financial planning needs and managing $170 million in investments. Unfortunately, the sale and transition of the firm did not develop as originally planned, and after five short months, I decided to move on.
In June 1998, I formed Pro Money Management, LLC, an investment management firm in Santa Rosa, with partners George Houghton, CPA and Frank Freitas, CPA. George and Frank ran their CPA practice and referred all of their clients needing financial advice and investment management services to me. This was a great experience, and I learned a lot from George and Frank. After four years together, we parted company to pursue each of our individual goals.
I don’t want to be like everyone else!
In October 2002, I formed Montgomery Taylor and Company, LLC to continue my work as a registered investment advisor in Santa Rosa. I also decided it was time to get back to doing tax work for individuals and small businesses. But I didnâ€™t want to run the firm and offer my services like other CPA or tax practitioners in town. With my background in investments and taxes, it made sense to integrate these services in such a way that advice was an automatic component of every client interaction. So, we developed our company’s designation of Tax Wise Advisor to emphasize and encompass all aspects of the services we provide â€” our tax practice and our investment advisory services.
My business bridges the gap – the gap you’re feeling somewhere else!
It’s been my experience that clients are frustrated by CPAs who don’t return phone calls promptly or take too long to prepare their tax returns. They are frustrated because advice is not proactively provided or the fees are staggering. Some of these CPA firms now offer financial advisory services. However, the actual work is often outsourced to a third party or one of the CPAs is designated as the â€œfinancial advisor,- regardless of actual investment experience. They also may be offering these services on a commission or fee-only basis.
At the other end of the spectrum are the national tax service franchises that open up just for tax season. They hire people with very little (if any) tax experience, and while the firm itself may have been around for 50 years, chances are the person doing your taxes hasnâ€™t had much experience and may have had minimal training. And, yes, many of these firms are now offering financial advisory services on a commission basis, but Iâ€™m certain many of their clients would appreciate a step-up in the quality and expertise of advice.
For investment management services, you could go to one of the big stock brokerage firms. But believe me, I have been-there-done-that and witnessed first-hand what goes on. These people are predominately stock-jockeys who may very well know the pros and cons of buying IBM versus GE, but how well do they understand and integrate your tax situation and overall financial goals? And, by the way, how is your investment portfolio doing? Want a second opinion?
My firm bridges the gap these other firms cannot or are unable to adequately provide. We return your phone calls promptly, prepare your tax returns within five days, proactively offer advice to you, and do all of this with 90% of our tax preparation fees ranging between $300 and $600. For clients wanting financial planning help, a retirement projection or professional investment management services, we have partnered with Fidelity Investments to offer a whole host of investment solutions. We do this work on a fee-only basis, where the only way we get a pay raise is when your investments grow.
All of this is what allows us to say that we offer “Better Advice for Your Money.”
So, now what?
I hope this story was entertaining and informative. My intention was to give you a good feeling for why we use the slogan “Better Advice for Your Money.”
If you are already a client, THANK YOU!! You are truly valued, and our whole staff hopes you feel it!
If you are NOT a client, no pressure. This story is being told for telling purposes only. I only hope that you found our story interesting. We do not hustle or hassle people in any way. We enjoy a reputation for service, integrity, stability, reliability and proven results, and we plan to maintain that for many years to come. If we can ever be of service to you, it would be our pleasure to assist you in any way possible.