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2020 Trusted Advisers Accountant: Michele Smith

Elliott, Robinson & Co. LLP

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As an accountant, Michele Smith identifies accuracy, awareness and communication as her top traits in the job.

In her role as manager at Elliott, Robinson & Co. LLP, Smith advocates for her clients, making every effort to be proactive.

“To me, being an advocate is ensuring that our clients not only receive the result they want, but that it is the correct result,” she says. “I work closely with clients on a daily basis through tax planning strategies, assisting business owners who are negotiating the purchase or sale of a business, and representing taxpayers who are faced with an IRS audit.”

Clients need to know the options or obstacles the tax code might present, she says. So, she strives to understand varying and complex details of tax laws, and to show how clients can benefit in accomplishing their goals.

Her individual annual billings are on the rise, exceeding 47% between 2017 and 2019. She billed over $304,000 to 216 clients last year, representing $95 million in combined net worth. Smith has worked at the firm since late 2014, preceded by a year as an accountant at Grisham Farm Products Inc. Her professional career began in 2010 at BKD LLP, where she worked for three years.

Smith prides herself on saving clients money annually through tax planning, which allows them to reinvest those dollars into their companies. She says that helps not only the business owner, but also their employees and the local economy.

“When working with new clients, I’m often surprised by the number of them that have dealt with untimely information before working with our firm,” she says. “Whether it be financial statements or tax returns, the information is not useful if it is not timely.”

She says sometimes that means addressing client concerns during off-hours.

“Some things just can’t wait until you are back in the office,” she says.

To stay on top of industry trends, Smith is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants. She’s actively involved in a networking group through the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section, in which tax leaders from national firms share information, including experiences and guidance on policies and procedures.

Springfield-based early childhood education provider Little Sunshine’s Enterprises Inc. is one of Smith’s clients. CEO Rochette Dahler credits Smith for being well researched, calm under pressure and diligent with details.

“She is the most trusted individual third-party partner we have as a national company, above and beyond hundreds of others,” Dahler says. “As such, we almost never make a major financial decision without her input.”

Smith volunteers time with the Logan-Rogersville Parent Teacher Association. She assists in fundraising for her son’s school district through the PTA, which operates the Wildcat Closet, a service that provides free clothing and toiletries to local students. Smith also is active with the Jobs for America’s Graduates program, for which she speaks to at-risk students, reviews resumes and assists with mock interviews.

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