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While we offer traditional accounting and tax services, we do not operate like a traditional accounting firm.

Experience Overview:

  • 24 years of public accounting experience.
  • Self employed for 20 years.  Same location for 14 years.
  • 13 years of trustee/co-trustee experience.
  • Over 80 tax and consulting clients currently.
  • Collaborates and consults with several tax and estate law firms in Southern California.
  • Consults with charities and serves on various boards of directors, including two boards at UC Riverside.

Education Overview:

  • CPA licensed in California.
  • B.A. Business Economics, UC Riverside
  • Extensive graduate coursework and advanced certifications in taxation, trusts and estates and litigation support.
  • During 2011 completed over 150 hours of live continuing education coursework.

Extended Personal Biography:

Michelle has been helping families and the self employed achieve their financial goals for over 20 years.

  

Michelle had an early start in the field of accounting.  At age 12, she drafted a budget for her parents to follow and routinely helped her mom balance her checkbook.  On family car trips she would daydream about driving around to see clients.  (She didn't yet know why she would have clients, but the image came to her just the same.)

  

At age 15, Michelle signed up for a two-semester long high school accounting class.  Mr. Engen, her teacher, liked Michelle because she was one of the few students who would get excited about balancing the columns, and she laughed at all of his accounting jokes.  (Mr. Engen ran into Michelle at a bookstore 15 years later and asked her for a job.)  Michelle's dad was really forward thinking.  He bought a Commodore 64 computer and convinced her to learn how to use Multiplan, one of the first spreadsheet programs.  He said that she would need to know how to use a computer if she was to be an accountant.  Michelle gained employment, also at age 15, at a Jewish retirement hotel where she often would carry several thousands of dollars in cash rents in her pocket.  Mr. Goldstein, her boss, a kind man and holocaust survivor, appreciated Michelle because she was always smiling, and he would say that there were not that many people one could trust with that much cash.  When the bookkeeper went on maternity leave, he promoted Michelle to temporary bookkeeper. 

  

Michelle had many other accounting positions until she settled in Southern California in 1998.  She believes that all of these experiences shaped her as the business and tax consultant she is today.  Each job gave her a different business perspective and provided a wide breadth and depth of knowledge about a variety of businesses. 

  

During college at UC Riverside, she worked as a freelance bookkeeper for several businesses, including a bookstore, a psychiatric firm and an electrician.  During the summers, she would manage stores on Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles, so that the store owners could take their vacations. One week she would manage a quilt store or an Italian clothing store.  The next week she would run a candy store or a gift store.  She also spent one year and two summers studying accounting, tax and other subjects at UCLA.    She interned as an internal auditor at a credit union, where she designed a fixed asset management system-using the very first version of Lotus 1-2-3.  She was the assistant to the national sales manager of Cosmair, Inc. (Parent company of L'oreal and Lancome.) As her senior project, she prepared a business plan for the retail division of Cosmair that was presented at their annual managers' meeting in New York.   

  

After graduating with a double major in business and economics, Michelle decided that she did not want to work for a "Big 8" CPA firm.  She always knew that she wanted to work with growing businesses, so she took a position at a large local firm in Los Angeles.  This was yet another interesting experience, as she was the only Christian accountant at a firm owned and operated by Hungarian Jews.  The work was difficult, the hours were long, and the pay was very little.  She was a "ghost accountant" for jewelry brokers, real estate moguls, department stores, theaters, restaurants and garment manufacturers. (A ghost accountant is someone who does all the work but never meets the clients.)  The experience was terrific. 

  

After a year of graduate school at Cal State San Bernardino, Michelle passed the CPA exam.  During graduate school, she worked as a temporary controller for larger organizations like a national photo processing company, an international time share company and the regional branch of one of the largest nonprofit agencies in the United States.  All three organizations were in distress at that time.  They had lost their controllers and were facing the potential of failed audits and financial ruin.  Michelle supervised the accounting staffs to catch-up on the accounting and to find and resolve accounting discrepancies.  This experience would be very useful seven years later. Michelle consulted with shareholders who were forced to take over the management of a manufacturing company, with thirty employees, that was financially and operationally ruined.  In that case, Michelle worked with the shareholder's to hire new staff and to reorganize the company.  The results were that sales were increased three-fold and the company became very profitable, with net profit%/sales increase from less than 2% to over 15%.

  

Michelle gained employment as a tax manager in San Bernardino with one of the largest business-consulting firms in California. She supervised the work of eight bookkeepers and accountants, and she prepared over 150 corporate and partnership tax returns a year. Her clients operated almost every type of business imaginable.  Clients included large manufacturers, retail chains, construction companies, trucking companies and wholesale distributors.  She also prepared over 300 individual tax returns a year, approximately 120 amended tax returns and represented numerous taxpayers before the IRS.  Michelle left the position after almost three years to complete the internship necessary for her CPA license.  At the time, CPA candidates had to complete a 2000-hour internship in a variety of financial statement preparation situations.  Unfortunately, all of the years of tax work that Michelle already completed did not count towards the internship hours. 

  

Michelle kept a small office in Ontario to service her many bookkeeping/tax clients and returned to L.A., where she completed her auditing hours and became an audit manager of a firm in Brentwood. At the Los Angeles firms she audited mortgage companies, HUD real estate projects, REITs, escrow companies, and nonprofits.

  

The firm in Brentwood always knew of Michelle's intentions to return to Southern California.  Michelle closed her office in Ontario and gave up her position in Brentwood to open her office in Riverside in 1998. She has happily been at the same location ever since.  Her office provides business and tax consulting services to over eighty businesses throughout Southern California.  She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants. She is also a QuickBooks Professional Advisor and a member of the Peachtree Accountcare Program. Her office participates in the AICPA peer review program, and she has obtained the highest rating available during 100% of the reviews.

  

Michelle and her husband regularly attend St. Andrew's Newman Church at UC Riverside.  They enjoy hiking with their beautiful dog, and they belong to several environmental and arts organizations.  Michelle has served on many charitable boards and often lectures at classes and seminars on small business accounting and various business tax topics.  She can be reached at michelle@yourowncpa.com.