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Sunday, Nov 27, 2022
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SPECIAL REPORT: William Wolf

William “Bill” Wolf knows all aspects of income taxation, from planning and estimating income to asset sales. He serves as a consultant to businesses and high net-worth individuals, as well as a litigation consultant on cases involving fraud and accountant negligence. He also helps clients obtain financing and evaluate investment opportunities. Prior to joining Squar Milner in Encino, he was senior partner at White Zuckerman in Sherman Oaks. He also served as a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. FIRM: Squar Milner SPECIALTY: Tax HOBBY: Boating Question: Why accounting? Answer: I had an MBA from USC and wanted to better understand the language of business (accounting) by working in public accounting for a few years with the plan to go into private industry and become a CFO. I never left public accounting because I enjoyed the challenges that made my career exciting. I was rewarded with successive promotions, ultimately to partner at a Big 4 accounting firm. Most interesting aspect of your job: Being a trusted advisor to my clients, coming up with creative tax planning ideas, and the thrill of getting new clients. How do you get new clients? Word of mouth from happy clients, building a referral network with other professionals, and building long-term relationships with prospective clients. What qualities in your personality help you as an accountant? Desire to help others, problem-solving abilities, detail oriented, patient with clients and staff, and a good listener. Typical work week: 50 hours a week is normal. Favorite out-of-the-office activity: I have two boats, one for water skiing on the lakes and one for ocean cruising to Santa Catalina Island. I love being on the water. How has accounting changed during your career? The world of public accounting has gotten more complex over the last 50 years. It’s no longer possible to be both a financial statement auditor and a tax advisor. Even within tax, you have to specialize, such as high net-worth, real estate, or sports and entertainment in order to be at the top of your game. If you could change one law or accounting rule, what would it be? I would repeal the passive activity rules that limit the deduction of losses. They are too complicated. Most memorable experiences: I mentioned a tax planning idea to a wealthy person at a cocktail party that led to her engaging me for both personal and business tax, as well as audit services. This client relationship generates over $200,000 in annual fees for my firm. By the way, the tax planning idea saved her over $2 million in taxes. What gives a “power accountant” his/her power? Power Bars. Why are you a “power accountant”? A reputation for leading-edge tax planning ideas; the ability to digest complex accounting problems and present simple solutions; practical, common sense advice; and evolution into a part-time forensic accountant and expert witness regarding business fraud, damage calculations and accounting malpractice. Your role within the firm: I evolved from technician to manager to rainmaker, but still retain elements of all three. Describe your life at tax time: It’s pretty chaotic. More like a six-week marathon with 60 to 70 hour weeks. I’m not sure I get a rush from it, but it is challenging. Some people can handle it and some cannot. What do you wish clients would do more often? Call me before entering into a major business transaction. I can’t help reduce the tax unless I’m involved in the transaction. Advice for others considering a career in accounting: It’s a great place to start a business career because you learn more about how businesses work. It’s recession proof. There is plenty of variety with new projects every day. In the right firm, you are continually challenged, growing in knowledge and advancing your career. For me, it has never been a job. I have always been excited to get to work in the morning.

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