The Big Tax Story of 2017… Chai With Nitin Gupta and Loni Woodley of ATLAS CPAs & Advisors
01 Feb 18
Ready, Set, File…once again the tax year is upon us and the largest national tax story in 2017 was the law that President Trump signed on December 22, 2017 – the $150 trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. There’s also a large local tax story that we thought imperative to bring to the attention of our readers and it relates to our very own Accounting Professionals LLC. Accounting Professionals has now merged with ATLAS CPAs & Advisors in an effort to continue to be the leader in full service accounting needs in the valley.
With the coming together of these two very powerful firms, ATLAS CPAs & Advisors now sits at 50+ employees across Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, and Oklahoma. With this strength in numbers, ATLAS is in a very unique position of being able to get their firm up to speed on the tax reform at the pace of a large company but with the continued local touch and personal service that their clients have become accustomed to. Asia Today had the pleasure to speak with Loni Woodley and Nitin Gupta who brought these two firms together.
A little bit of history…
As we sat down with Loni Woodley, his lovely wife Robyn, and Nitin to understand the history of Atlas and what brought these two companies together, we couldn’t help but notice the similarities in the experiences of Loni Woodley and Nitin Gupta.
Loni grew up in the Midwest in the State of Iowa in a farming town. While he knew he did not want to be a farmer because of the intense manual labor behind that career path, growing up farming and playing sports instilled a strong work ethic in him at a very young age. Understanding the value of education and how critical it was to obtain a college degree to pursue another career, he chose accounting as his area of concentration because of how passionate he was about math and accounting. His passion was evident at an early age when he helped his high school start the second level accounting classes that they started offering. The equivalent of a valedictorian in his high school, it was in fact a math class that would break the tie between another student and Loni to help him achieve the highest GPA in his graduating class at Allison-Bristow High School. Little did he know that his love for accounting and math is what would bring love into his life and he would meet his beautiful wife Robyn on a blind date set up by a client, Robyn’s brother in law. The two were married in 1993 and live in the Midwest with their beautiful family.
Loni went on to get his Bachelors in Accounting from University of Northern Iowa, a University where many top Accounting firms recruited because of its reputation as the top CPA school in Iowa. Excelling in studies while playing on the baseball team, he had a job offer from McGladrey & Pullen in his junior year and started a 10-year career with them after graduation. There were times during those 10 years where he felt that he wanted to be a partner but there were already 440 partners in the firm and he did not feel he could make an impact at the level he wanted to. It was with this realization that he left McGladrey & Pullen to work as a CFO for a client and stayed in the corporate world as a CFO for private and public companies for 13 years. While he learned a lot in the corporate world, his interactions with different companies helped him realize that the small to mid-size companies were highly under-served and truly needed accounting help. This realization eventually became the calling he was looking for to make a difference and he ventured back into public accounting to serve this under-served market and the ATLAS journey began with the purchase of an accounting firm in 2009. Since then, he has added many partners and locations and gone from a single office in one city to multiple offices in multiple cities.
While Loni was on this journey from public accounting at a large accounting firm to corporate and then back to public accounting, Nitin was on a very similar journey around the same time frame. Nitin grew up in New Delhi, India where there was a similar emphasis on hard work, education, and work ethic that is found in the Midwest. He completed his Bachelors of Commerce with Honors from Delhi University. Having studied both business and accounting and ending up in a country like the States, where taxes and financial accounting are at the core of everyone’s personal and professional lives, he was destined to land into the accounting business. In his own words, “everyone needs accounting and personal financials” and those that know him personally will know that his outgoing and caring personality is a natural fit for an industry that is responsible for helping people. Starting out as a bookkeeper in 1990, he transitioned into tax work in California in 1993 and spent a part of his public accounting career at Deloitte. During that time frame, he lived in Manhattan Beach and worked in LA, a 17-mile commute that took an hour and a half drive each way given the LA traffic. In 2003, he left the LA traffic behind to move to Phoenix, Arizona.
Just like Loni, Nitin was looking to make a bigger impact and difference and to have control over being able to concentrate on helping clients and he found his calling in the South Asian community in Arizona. While living in Arizona, Nitin found that the South Asian community in Arizona was increasing but lacked a CPA that could assist them with their financial needs personally and for those same small and mid-size businesses and he started the Accounting Professionals Journey by buying a firm in 2007. The firm was founded on the core belief that a relationship with your CPA is very personal, because an individual must reveal extremely confidential details of their financial matters and a comfort and trust level becomes extremely important to making that relationships a success and giving the CPA the ability to assist them fully. The focus was on treating encounters with clients as long-term relationships and staying away from the nickel-and-dime type of billing behavior. These founding beliefs benefited clients that have been with him for years because his attention to detail and ability to remember where the businesses have come from and how they have grown and changes provides a very personalized level of service to those clients.
The similarities in Loni and Nitin’s stories are evident and one thing that stands out is their work ethic, passion for their clients, and desire to truly make a difference and an impact. In their initial meetings, they would finish each other’s sentences and knew that they could do something bigger and better for their clients together without sacrificing their values and way of doing business.
Why ATLAS CPAs & Advisors?
For both of them as individuals and ATLAS, every client is more than a tax return or a transaction and their businesses were founded on long-term relationships which is why they hit it off as soon as they met and realized they both wanted the same thing. It really was about the client and not about themselves and it was this mentality that made them leave the McGladrey & Pullen and Deloitte’s of the world to focus on where they could make a bigger impact.
ATLAS stands for Advisors That Listen And Serve and it also draws a parallel to an ATLAS that can be used to create your business roadmap from start to finish. All client relationships are treated as long term relationships and the goal is to help their clients with their journeys through all the twists and turns. It is not about what you can get now and the firm will give up stuff today to form strong, long-term relationships that are a win-win for both parties.
With their diverse experiences in Public Accounting and Corporate America, they bring their hands-on business knowledge and expertise to the table in addition to the basic tax/accounting knowledge. Most of their people have been on the client side as CFOs, Controllers, Business Owners and they have an advantage where they can relate to how their clients actually operate.
ATLAS CPAs & Advisors pride themselves on being there for clients’ year around, unlike large tax chains that come around and establish bases during peak tax season, but are nowhere to be found if an issue arises post filing. These seasonal chains also hire data entry experts that are subject matter experts on data entry only. They can take the data provided by individuals and file their taxes. However, ATLAS CPAs & Advisors are trained in the tax code and with the ability to ask the right questions to find tax deductions that may otherwise be overlooked. The firm provides specialized service asking the right questions based on the person’s background to ensure nothing is overlooked.
A Look at the Future…
Their future goals include continued growth into other markets in the South and Northeast regions without losing the local, personal touch and they do this by being very selective about their mergers and acquisitions. When looking to bring in new partners or firms, the focus is always on partners that have the same values and work ethic and are looking to continue with the firm to help their clients succeed. With this, their clients get the best of both worlds – the expertise, support, and resources they would expect from a big firm with the personal attention and service that is found in smaller, local firms. This unique advantage is going to be critical to the success of their clients in this time of change, uncertainty, and disruption.
Given the political climate and the passing of the largest tax reform in decades, a firm will need the resources of a large firm to keep up with the change. In addition to the changes in laws and regulations, there are large technology changes that will come such as how returns are filed, changes to the underlying software systems accounting firms have gotten accustomed to using, etc. While we may not get to the post-card size tax form as promised, we know the future of how we file and do business looks very different. It will take a firm that has the resources of a large firm with the attention to detail of a local firm with intimate knowledge of their clients to survive this change themselves and help their clients adapt, survive, and be successful.
In the last few years, we have seen many industries disrupted by change and those that adapted to that change were the ones that continued to exist and be successful. Uber and Lyft were the disruption that killed the traditional taxi industry because of its inability to adapt to the changing demand of its customers. Amazon was the disruption that killed many retailers such as Circuit City which is no longer seen and large Department Stores that are cutting back on locations that are not profitable. Retailers such as Best Buy adapted with their delivery and pick-up programs to compete against this disruption. The VRBO and Bed and Breakfast industry is disrupting the traditional hotels and hospitality industry which is struggling to adapt and continuing to lose market share to these customer centric offerings. This tax reform is a disruption that will impact all industries because Accounting and Taxes are at the heart of all businesses. ATLAS’s agility and ability to adapt and help their clients adapt quickly and efficiently is the differentiator that is needed for clients to continue to be successful and survive the disruption.
Final Message to Readers…
ATLAS’s final message to our readers is to recognize that what clients need more than ever in this changing environment is agility over ability. ATLAS CPAs & Advisors are well versed in full service accounting needs that include both personal and business income taxes, financial audits, financial reviews, day to day consulting for business management, federal and state tax audits, business valuations, and assistance with mergers and acquisitions. In addition to the services mentioned, they can also guide individuals and businesses on the effects of daily decisions and the impact it can have on their financials because of their unique hands-on business experience. They pride themselves on being partners for their clients working with an “us” mentality instead of an “us versus them.” Being natural educators, Partners at ATLAS are known to speak at seminars on topics related to real estate all over the valley sponsored by various Title companies and real estate brokers. They take this passion for education and apply it to each client situation by teaching clients to fish instead of fishing for them. And it is going to take this ability to be partners and educators for their clients that will help their clients adapt to the upcoming changes from this political administration.
Asia Today thanks Loni and Robyn Woodley and Nitin Gupta for taking the time out to speak with us and provide our readers with this invaluable information. As they start this new journey together, we wish ATLAS Advisors & CPAs continued success and growth in their future endeavors. Grateful for the support of the community to date, they hope for the same support and enthusiasm as they embark on this new journey together.
Please visit www.atlascpas.com for more information regarding the firm and their services. They can also be reached at 602-482- 9101 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.