Small to medium business owners are the engine of the US economy. Yet, these business owners often struggle with tax and compliance matters that are costly and take a lot of time. Karen personally understands this struggle, after growing up with an entrepreneurial father and working in his engineering firm and then later working for another family member’s electroplating and heat-treating business, and then operating her own business. In addition, she has spent more than three decades utilizing her accounting degree as a direct employee, as a staff accountant for a public accounting firm, or as a private consultant to assist business owners and high net worth individuals with their bookkeeping, accounting, tax, and compliance issues.
While a student at the University of Houston, Karen received hands-on experience with accounting at her father’s engineering firm when the CPA taught her how to use a “pegboard” accounting system and actual paper ledger for recording the business financial activity. There was no software to automate the recording of the transactions, so she had to actually understand the debits and credits. In addition, the paper ledgers showed her exactly how purchases or receipts flowed from sub-ledgers to the general ledger and then to the financial statements. By the time she earned her degree at Stephen F. Austin State University in 1984, she had both academic and practical knowledge of accounting. Upon graduation, she moved to Chicago to become the controller of the family business mentioned earlier.
In 1991 Karen went to work at her first public accounting firm as a paraprofessional. She did write-up work, prepared payroll and related tax returns, and was given her first experience at preparing corporate, partnership and individual income tax returns. As she demonstrated aptitude and effectiveness at these assignments, the two CPA partners for whom she worked began to expand her training and responsibilities. She became so effective at working with clients, solving their bookkeeping issues, and creating client work papers that significantly streamlined tax preparation that her mentors encouraged her to form a private consulting practice and become the liaison between public accounting firms and clients in need of a little more accounting “oomph” than they could hire for themselves.
She took their advice and launched CentsAbilities in the mid-1990’s. During several years in this private practice, Karen had the privilege of serving artists, restaurateurs, professionals, real estate developers, and manufacturers. Certain clients were so pleased with Karen’s performance that they recruited her to work for them. One opportunity took her to Hawaii and New Zealand as the controller for a yacht racing syndicate that built its own boats and competed in the Challenger Selection Series for the 2000 America’s Cup competition.
In 2012 Karen returned to public accounting. She again worked on tax returns plus a variety of special projects, but her primary focus was on building a bookkeeping consulting business within this boutique tax firm. She regularly worked on-site at various client locations to review and adjust the books, as well as overseeing the in-office bookkeeping for all the write-up work for the firm. Karen supervised the preparation of all quarterly and annual payroll tax filings, monthly sales tax filings, periodic financial reporting, and investment tracking for a variety of clients, including high net worth individuals, trusts, partnerships, and corporations. She worked with the staff at a foundation and its affiliates at Texas A&M Agrilife Extension service to revamp the foundation’s entire accounting system. She assisted another client with an embezzlement issue, and she calculated and documented a large theft loss claim due to fraud and then assisted with the defense of that claim when the related tax returns were audited by the IRS, denied, and then successfully appealed.
Karen has now returned to her core skill set and passion – assisting owners and staff of entities that are too small to hire their own qualified accountants. She provides a unique service as a liaison between a business owner, his staff, and his CPA that allows each of those people to focus on what they do best. Everybody wins in this collaborative effort. Business owners are freed to effectively operate their business, CPA’s get to focus on tax compliance and planning, and staff receives beneficial support and training. In the background, the accounting is done right.