Making Accounting Personal
Knoxville CPA Michelle Amelse believes regular planning and communication eliminate financial stress
Some surprises are better than others. An unexpected check in the mail is great. But an extra bill from the IRS or a surprise bill from your accountant? Not so good.
At Amelse & Edmonds CPAs, Mi-chelle Amelse eliminates unpleasant surprises and replaces them with planned success. “We work with businesses of any size, any company we can provide value to,” she says. “When we take on a new client, we ask what their needs are and go over that in detail. We are transparent about whether we can meet those needs. We try to be honest and upfront from day one.”
After graduating from Austin Peay, getting her CPA license and gathering 10 years’ worth of experience, Michelle decided it was time to launch her own business. When she started about eight years ago, it was just her and one other person. Now there’s a staff of nine.
All along the way the main focus has been helping business owners with a wide range of services: full-service book-keeping, tax planning, tax preparation, and consulting.
“One of the big areas we focus on is being proactive versus reactive,” she says. “We like to meet with our clients regularly so we can plan throughout the year, do tax planning and implement tax mitigation strategies in real time. Often times, when you get to the end of the year and are in tax season filing a tax return, you can’t go back in time. It’s too late to make those changes, so we like to stay on top of things and communicate with clients throughout the year.”
When Michelle meets with a new client, she likes to know their expectations. She always asks them, “What are you looking for? I want to make sure we can give them what they’re looking for and meet their needs. Two of the main things I hear from people that they want from their CPA are communication and transparency.”
Everyone in the firm prides them-selves on having good communication with their clients, taking the time to know them as people, not just a number.
“I feel I can help people best if I know them personally, I know their goals and what they’re looking for, not even just from an accounting perspective, but business overall,” Michelle says. “What’s their goal? Why are they in business? Are they trying to build a business so they can sell it and get the maximum for retirement? I like to get to know people and what they want to achieve. That’s what we focus on.”
Finance is tied into every aspect of life, Michelle says. She believes that whatever someone is going through in their personal life also impacts their finances, and when she meets with clients, she likes to build enough rapport that they feel comfortable sharing those aspects with her.
“It’s not just accounting,” she says. “If I know what someone’s going through, what their struggles are and what their goals are, I can help them through those things as well.
“There’s one client in particular that I started working with over 10 years ago. At the time, they had two locations and were facing the challenges of a new start up business. Now they have 30 locations and are extremely successful. That’s what I love doing — help businesses grow and being able to watch that progression over time.”