In Hindsight, I’d Still Be An Accountant

The challenge I presented last May, for readers to talk about why they became CPAs and whether they’d do it again, has yielded interesting stories and perspectives. This month we’re pleased to give you two of them.

As a trusted professional, I must say,
I truly enjoy being a CPA.
There is no better way
To spend a day,
There is no better way to earn my pay.
On their plans, I usually can tell
my clients “yea”—
But occasionally it’s necessary to give a “nay”
In order to keep the government at bay.
But what the hey!
Let’s end this anguish with a big hooray!

Obviously, being a poet was ruled out as a career choice.

My dad was a CPA, and he indoctrinated me into the business around the time I was bar mitzvahed at age 13. I’ve been in the business for 45 years, and it certainly has changed. I started out sorting checks in numerical order, preparing bank reconciliations, writing monthly accounts receivable statements, posting to the general ledger, taking off a trial balance, preparing payroll and New York City sales tax returns (there was no New York State sales tax yet), and the ever-popular writing a check from the client’s checkbook to the CPA—my father.

At age 17, when the time came to select a college and a profession, I was already preparing income tax returns. I thought, “What an easy way to earn a living!” Little did I know what the profession held in store for me and that it was not as easy as remembering “debits to the window.” I gravitated toward the tax end of the business and one of my fondest memories is when dad started to ask me for the answers to tax questions.

Dad passed away in 1972. He had the pleasure of knowing that I was a CPA and a licensed attorney but he missed seeing my children grow up and he didn’t see my fortunate accomplishments as a CPA.

As an accountant, I’ve had the opportunity to write for national tax and accounting journals; be interviewed by national and local print and broadcast media; solve problems for clients and friends; act as a sounding board for clients’ families and businesses; give speeches; grow my firm’s tax department (now in its 27th year) and lead a wonderful group of Holtz Rubenstein tax professionals; serve as the vice-president of the Americas for DFK International, a worldwide organization of independent accounting firms; and, my greatest achievement, serve as the 1999/2000 president of the NYSSCPA.

In addition to dad, I owe my success to my wife, Sue; my mom, who at 83 still puts in time as a bookkeeper; and my partners and fellow CPAs, Leo Spandorf and Bill Holtz.

This business has given me wonderful friends, a great deal of satisfaction, a very nice lifestyle, and opportunities to travel across the world. At 17, who knew! But in hindsight, would I do it again? You bet!

Alan E. Weiner, JD, LLM, CPA
Holtz Rubenstein & Co., LLP, Melville, N.Y.

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