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SPECIAL REPORT: Matthew A. Burke

As managing partner, Matthew Burke supervises operations of the Encino-based Singer Burke, including hiring, strategic planning and marketing. During his 25 years in accounting, he has worked for a real estate syndication company in addition to working at the small business group at Ernst & Young. He works with clients to help them use Singer Burke’s services, which include tax work, financial consulting, business management and investment analysis. FIRM: Singer Burke Zimmer & Butler SPECIALTY: Holistic financial planning and management HOBBIES: African drumming, wildlife conservation, humanitarian causes, travel and poetry slams Question: What is holistic financial planning? Answer: Developing respectful and collaborative relationships that help create space for people to reflect, to talk and to stretch their conceptions of what can be achieved in order to help make meaningful shifts in their financial lives and, if possible, to truly make a positive difference in the quality of their lives. Most interesting aspect of your job: Helping people create their own definition of “success,” which includes a personal sense of growth and fulfillment. Why accounting? I respected and admired by best friend’s father during my formative years because he was intelligent, engaging, funny, and just happened to have his own CPA firm. I actually chose to interview him for a school project about who/what I wanted to be when I grew up and, clearly, I followed through. How do you get new clients? By referral only, but typically as a result of helping people make meaningful shifts in their financial lives through the use of creative and customized financial tools. How does your personality help you as an accountant? Compassion, humility, self-awareness, forgiveness, sense of humor, open mind and an affinity for life-long learning. Typical work week: Time seems to fly by when I am fully engaged in what we do. Thus, the hours typically worked depends on the level of engagement. Favorite out-of-the-office activities: New adventures and learning experiences near and far. This helps remind me of the interconnectedness of our world and how fragile we are in the big picture, which in turn helps cultivate empathy and compassion for others. How has accounting changed during your career? New technologies have been developed that allow us to more efficiently and effectively deliver services and value that make a real difference in clients’ lives. For example, our use of technology has helped us to focus on helping clients align their resources (time, money, energy) with their core values. If you could change one law or accounting rule, what would it be? Require the Wall Street community to more fully disclose the magnitude of their inherent conflicts of interest; namely, self-dealing, proprietary products, commission/incentive-based rewards (high-end vacations, etc.) paid to their front-line “advisors”/sales people, as well as prohibiting Wall Street from branding themselves as financial advisors (fiduciaries) because of the aforementioned conflicts of interest and corresponding incentive structures that prevent them from acting in a fiduciary capacity on behalf of their clients. Most memorable experience: One of our long time clients who is beloved by every person who works on his account won a Humanitas Award for film and television writing intended to promote human dignity, meaning and freedom. He promptly gave it to me saying that I deserved it for helping him when he was down and out. I told him I couldn’t accept his award, however, he insisted. I told him I would hold it for him and his family for the time being. No wonder everyone loves him so much. He’s in his mid-80s now and more beloved than ever. What gives a “power accountant” his/her power? In the martial arts disciplines, what is known as “beginner’s mind” – always being open to learning. Author Daniel Pink describes this phenomenon as “Infinite Mind” versus “Finite Mind.” Whereas Finite Mind is concerned with winning and losing and, thus, never fully comprehends the lessons to be learned in failure, Infinite Mind incorporates all possible lessons available from all experiences. Your role within the firm: I view myself as a “service leader” and thus continually responsible for the evolution and unfolding of our mission/vision/values. What do you wish clients would do more often? Be even more compassionate with themselves and others (same advice for myself) because it’s only by embracing our imperfections that we can build trust and confidence.

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