Pop Quiz, Monday with Jason Ackerman, Manager at Wagner, Ferber, Fine & Ackerman, PLLC


The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business people. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you cannot learn in a classroom. We want to thank our interviewee for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz, Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?

Jason Ackerman

What is your job role?

I work with small businesses to streamline their accounting systems, tax planning, compliance, and other various business processes. I also work with small business owners and other individuals to guide their tax planning, estate planning, and overall financial planning.

Tell us about your company?

WFFA has been around for over 70 years. While it has the history, it has also stayed on the cutting edge of tech changes in our space and our clients’ industries. We work with small businesses in the way that best fits a particular client, ranging from clients that fully outsource their accounting departments to us, to playing the role of CFO, to focusing solely on tax planning and compliance. We work with our clients in a way that makes the most sense for them, and this role is dynamic, changing as the client grows.

What do you love most about your job?

Working with start-ups. I love sitting down with a young company and having a clean slate, so to speak, to get them set up to run smoothly and efficiently. There’s nothing like watching a company grow into the structure that you helped to establish when it was still theoretical, watching the guidance you gave get put into practice over the years to follow.

I also love how my position allows me to work on something different every day, sometimes every hour. I can be helping a men’s fashion designer set up their bookkeeping systems in the morning and guiding a hedge fund manager through their year-end tax planning in the afternoon.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?

Feeling like I make a difference in my clients’ businesses. From the earliest days of my career in accounting, I had clients calling me with questions that would immediately affect how they run their company. Should I buy this piece of machinery? How should I finance this purchase? Can I afford this marketing campaign? These are real questions posed by real people, and it is both flattering and empowering that they come to me for guidance. I love being able to sit down with them, learn about the challenge in front of them, and work with them to come up with a strategy to tackle whatever obstacle they are facing that day.

How do your co-workers inspire you?

By the variety of experience and breadth of knowledge that they bring to the table. A firm like ours that works with clients in nearly every industry and located across the country (in some cases, across the world), there’s always something new to learn. I’m regularly blown away by what obscure piece of knowledge a co-worker has in their back pocket, and there’s usually a good story about why they happen to know that one particular thing.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?

Our firm only has ~30 people, so it truly feels like a family. One of our favorite topics is aggressively following NY sports, which makes for some intense intra-office rivalries. Personally, I like to find time during the day to do things that I like. I keep a guitar in my office, and it’s not uncommon to find me practicing while taking a break during the day.

What are some of the challenges of your job?

There’s always something you don’t know. As I mentioned above, we work with clients in almost every industry and across the country and world, which makes for a very wide breadth of knowledge that your clients expect you to have. Staying on top of constantly changing tax and accounting rules for such a wide base is both challenging and a big part of what makes my job exciting.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
It’s always better to spend the time and resources to do it correctly from the start than to rush through something and have to fix it later.

If you make a mistake, your best option is to own up to it, work to correct it, and prevent it from recurring. Nobody’s perfect, but it’s up to you to decide how you handle yourself when you screw up.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in your industry?

First, find something about your job that you love, and try to find a way to do more of it. I really enjoy business systems architecture and tax planning because both let me take a toolbox of knowledge and apply it to a potentially open-ended situation. I’ve taken the time to sharpen my skills in these areas, making myself more valuable to the partners and making it more likely that I’ll be consulted on these types of jobs.

Second, and somewhat opposite to the first piece of advice, is to find a way to do something new every day. You are in an industry where your knowledge is your value, and it’s up to you to be continually broadening and deepening that knowledge base to make yourself as valuable to your clients as possible.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

Firm Website — http://wffacpa.com
LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/company/wagner-ferber-fine-&-ackerman-pllc/
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/wffacpa/
Twitter — https://twitter.com/wffacpa

Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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