There’s much more to being a top accountant than filing tax forms.
Derek Smith, a partner and certified public accountant at FORVIS LLP, focuses on consulting and tax planning. He assists business clients with helping to reduce risk, save money, increase profitability and understand the complex tax system.
“My role is to bring solutions and options to my clients,” he says. “My goal is to help clients plan to minimize tax burden and maximize after-tax earnings to meet their needs.”
Smith says part of his job is keeping up on current legislation and figuring out how it will impact his clients and to help them navigate the current tax code. Over the last few years, that has included the federal Paycheck Protection Program loans and employee retention credits. He’s had to keep a keen eye on the shifting economic climate.
“I advised clients through these last six months of escalating inflation and rising interest rates to make sure their balance sheets are strong and capital is available to help weather the storm,” he says.
Sometimes trusted advisers have to help business owners make difficult choices, Smith says.
“I was able to help two long-term clients navigate the decision to sell their businesses,” he says. “The businesses were able to sell at an opportune time and receive enough money to pay taxes and retire comfortably. Each business is different, and for these businesses, my trusted adviser role helped them navigate these crucial decisions. The decision to sell was not easy, but the right answer after I walked them carefully through all of their options.”
Smith says a key is being available to your clients when they need you. His efforts have resulted in individual 2021 billings of nearly $4.8 million and over 800 clients.
“One time, a client had an emergency while I was on a vacation,” he says. “I literally answered their call on the side of a mountain and helped them get the answer they desperately needed.”
Smith is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Missouri Society of CPAs, as well as part of the area’s Construction Financial Management Association.
Smith says some of the challenges facing the accounting industry currently include a decline in college students choosing accounting for a career.
“Our existing workforce is looking for opportunities while keeping a good work and life balance,” he says. “To stay up on these trends, I read a lot of articles from various business publications and listen to podcasts from experts in employee engagement and retention.”
Outside of the office, Smith strives to improve the Branson area, particularly serving as president of the Branson/Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District.
“The district collects a 1% sales tax that is used to market the Branson lakes area,” he says. “I have been part of the district for 10 years and served on the board for the last seven. The district allows the Branson and lakes area access to millions in marketing dollars to attract and retain visitors to the area.”
Going up at Missouri State University’s 125-acre William H. Darr Agricultural Center on Kansas Expressway is the Small Animal Education Center.