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.
Local medical marijuana dispensaries must find ways to get creative with their marketing in light of industry advertising regulations released this summer by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Marc Thornsberry, a Senior Engineer at CJW, says he joined the company after working in the public sphere. He says CJW had a ton of experience working with the community, and putting their customer's and clients.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares helpful advice and cautionary tips about the importance of tracking cash flow for new or established businesses. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Michael Smith and Chris Sawyer, COO and CEO of Next Level Solutions respectively, discuss how they keep their remote teams and offices in and out of country on the same page. Next Level Solutions was ranked #1 in the Springfield Business Journal's 2021 Dynamic Dozen.
John Oke-Thomas, architect and co-founder of minorities in business, responds to the accusation that minority businesses are only successful because of the priority they have received in lending. He says that if a business uses a loan well, it shows their worth.
Sandra Smart, a technology and commercialization specialist, shares tips for entrepreneurs who are ready to seek funding. Some of her tips apply broadly; some target technology industry businesses. Smart works with tech entrepreneurs and startups, and hosts training workshops through the Missouri SBDC at Missouri State University's efactory.
Hollie Elliott discusses common misconceptions about locating your business in a small town. She says that there are a lot of benefits that people may not consider.
Drawing on his own experience dynamically evolving his company and business model, Jim Meinsen discusses when and how you might need to draw on new technology. Jim and Debbie Meinsen are co-owners of TCI Graphics in Springfield.
John Oke-Thomas, longtime Springfield architect, discusses his philosophy on architecture. He says that future historians will be focused on the sustainability of our contemporary architecture.
Erin Hedlun, director of marketing and communications at Evangel University, says compassion is an important job skill. Hedlun says it is a component of what makes a leader.
Rachel Barks, owner of Artistree Pottery, talks about the concepting that went behind the aesthetic of the business.