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Christopher Passmore

Christopher Passmore, 40, began his career at Pricewaterhousecoopers, where he worked with publicly and privately held businesses. He joined Martini, Iosue & Akpovi 10 years ago and was promoted to managing partner last year. He specializes in assurance and business consulting services to emerging and middle market companies, and focuses on manufacturing, professional services, franchises and benefit plans. He spends his free time with his family – his children are 7 and 10 – and he enjoys cycling and exploring southern California. TITLE: Managing Partner FIRM: Martini, Iosue & Akpovi, Encino SPECIALTY: Assurance and business consulting to emerging and middle-market companies HOBBIES: Charity, cycling and exploring Southern California with his family Question: Why accounting? Answer: I wanted to help clients grow their businesses and achieve their goals. The opportunity to become an entrepreneur also appealed to me. In accountancy, you can become a partner and run your own business – this is not possible in all professions. Your role in the firm? As the managing partner, I spend time planning and driving forward the firm’s strategy. Which products should we develop and offer? Should we open new offices? What defines “star accountants”? It is a balance between the ability to apply technical accountancy knowledge and the softer skills such as being an effective communicator and being able to empathize with your clients. I have always been good at communicating complex accounting concepts to clients who do not have an accountancy background. Time management: One third of my time is interacting directly with the firm’s clients; one third managing the firm on a day-to-day basis; and one third on the firm’s development. Best part of your job: Every client’s business is like a puzzle. Sometimes you know that something is not right but the solution or missing piece is not always obvious. It is extremely satisfying when you figure it out. Biggest misconception about accounting? People often think that accountants do not need to have people skills. To be successful in this profession you need to be good with a calculator and have good client service skills. Your personality at work: I am told I am very calm and this helps me when dealing with multiple client deadlines. I approach projects step-by-step until they are completed. New generation of accountants: I have been inspired by the previous generation’s work ethic and their willingness to go out and do what is needed to provide excellent client service. I think the main differences have been driven by technology. Today, we have more control as we can work remotely, we can provide more client tools such as online portals and data analysis programs, and we are being kinder to the environment by using less paper. Memorable experience? One of our clients started working with us 20 years ago with an annual revenue of $1 million and a couple of products. Last year, they sold the business for $1 billion with multiple product lines. That was a very proud moment for our firm. How should the profession change? I would like to see more focus on consultancy and working with the business owners to help them achieve their business goals. This means a move away from projects where compliance is the single goal, or the key aim is to submit a tax return on time. Accountants will still be meeting these deadlines and requirements, but they will also be working on mergers and acquisitions, implementing controls and constraints, and improving their client’s approach to risk management. Favorite out-of-the-office activities? In addition to spending time with my family, I enjoy cycling and being outdoors. I am from Illinois originally, and I love exploring southern California. I am also on the board for Hope’s Haven charity which provides support to children who are fighting a critical illness. Career advice: There can be pressure to specialize in tax, audit or consultancy early on in your career. Instead, try everything and get a broad range of experiences. I began my career as a public accountant and then became a controller in a manufacturing company. I returned to public accountancy with an entirely different perspective which has helped me understand and empathize with my clients. Biggest mistake by clients: The finance department often does not grow in line with the rest of the business. This means insight into business performance can be hard to come by, and without this insight it is difficult to develop future strategy. Life during audit season: It is hectic but technology has made it easier for me to be there for my family. For example, I can spend some time with my children in the early evening and then work from home when they have gone to bed. Accounting mentor? Don Iosue, former managing partner, has been a huge inspiration and mentor. He has a business approach to everything, and he is interested in his clients’ long-term goals and not simply their compliance requests. He also focuses on the people he works with, and develops his client relationships while making life at work better for his employees. – Helen Floersh

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