Interview with Joe Kristan, Author of the Roth CPA Tax Update Blog

    We had the opportunity to interview Joe Kristan. Kristan offers an insider’s view of his familiarity and understanding of the accounting profession. He accomplishes this by sharing first-hand experiences, and thoughtful advice. Kristan lives by his most memorable quote, “Be true to who you are!” Those who are just starting out in the accounting profession or who have been in the trenches for years will appreciate his sage advice.

    joe-kristanWhat event or series of events led you to pursue accounting or the study of accounting as a professional choice?

    In my sophomore fall in college (1979), I began to hear what the recent graduates that I knew were doing for a living, and it wasn’t encouraging. I looked in the paper to see where job openings were, and it seemed people were hiring accountants. I took an introductory accounting course, did well in it, and continued.

    Name 1 or 2 specific challenges you have faced in your accounting career and the steps you took to meet these challenges.

    Getting fired after my first year in the profession was an early challenge. When I realized I didn’t feel very upset, I realized that I was in an environment where I didn’t fit, and it probably was a good thing for me, as I might not have had the sense to quit on my own. I made inquiries in a number of cities, got an opportunity in a new city, and things went much better.

    How would you advise an individual entering the accounting profession to proceed? What are the challenges or obstacles that may be faced?

    Good grades as an undergraduate are important. Strive for accuracy once you get started. Don’t get too down if things seem overwhelming, as most of the learning has to be done on the job.

    Can you give us an example of an interesting case or project that you have worked on and your role in helping to achieve a positive outcome?

    Sometimes it’s little things, like the time I told a client who was going to distribute an appreciated property of a corporation that it would be taxable, preventing an expensive mistake. In a recent case involving an S corporation sale, we set it up as an asset sale, helping the buyer get a better result while not hurting the seller.

    If you could suggest a role model for a new accountant, who would it be and why?

    Everyone is different. You need to be true to yourself. You should find a mentor who you are comfortable with to help you grow your career around your own strengths.

    As an accomplished author of a blog related to accounting, what advice would you offer to the new accountant concerning the role of social media in their profession?

    Common sense. Don’t put stuff out there on Facebook about your colleagues. If you are in college, don’t put things out there that a potential employer might not like (“I sure did get hammered at the strip club…”). If your mom wouldn’t want to see it, your potential employers probably wouldn’t either.

    This is the last question and time for the inner accountant in you to break free. What is the key strength you bring to your career, and how would you advise new accountants to mine their own strengths to further their careers?

    I have always tried to be good technically. As the tax law gets harder, people who are willing to try to be good technically will be increasingly valuable. Good writing skills are helpful. We all have our own strengths. Try to be realistic about what they are, and play to your strong points.

    We enjoyed the opportunity to interview Joe and gain vision through his valuable experience. If you would like to read more about Joe Kristan, visit his LinkedIn.