James McDermott, Controller/Treasurer
After working for the first 18 years of my career with a large local firm in Charleston, I left the world of public accounting in 1996. I joined a “family-owned, small business” real estate developer in Charleston to serve as its Controller and Treasurer. That was nearly 12 years ago.
I will have to say that the first 18 years in public accounting laid the ground work for me in the position I now enjoy. Learning to deal with business issues, helping clients solve problems and knowing and understanding the federal and state tax codes which allows me to do complex tax planning and assist with estate and business planning for my shareholders and their families
There is no “typical day” in the life of a CPA. Many days you start with your idea of what you want to accomplish during the day. In some cases you end the day with an even longer list of the things “to do” the next day. Everything just sort of unfolds with everything from a client with an emergency of some nature (assisting with a business plan to allow them to submit a loan request; dealing with a letter from the IRS or other federal government agency or other state taxing authority, etc.).
I feel that I do have many of the things that I enjoyed about public accounting without some of the larger stresses of public accounting. (Keeping up with your time to bill clients/timesheets; billing and collecting from clients, etc).
The company that I work for now has over 90 separate legal entities to keep up with and to provide accounting services to. It is like running a small CPA firm without the need to keep up with time, bill and collect.
The skills you need in today’s business world:
- Excellent computer skills. The ability to learn and adapt to the changes that program upgrades and hardware changes make to your life.
- Problem solving skills. The ability to analyze and understand concepts and apply them to your specific situation.
- Being a team player rather than an individualist.
- Communication and interpersonal skills-both verbal and written.