About me

The basics:

Hi there, I am a CPA living and working in Austin, TX. Of course, you probably already figured that out but maybe you want a little more about my background. I graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1997 and passed all four parts of the CPA exam in May, 1997.

  • Coopers & Lybrand, LLP / PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP 1997 – 2002
  • Broadway Texas 2003
  • The Mangold Group 2003-2007
  • Calhoun, Thomson + Matza, LLP 2007 – current

Now that you have the basics, read on if you’d like a little more insight into who I am. Instead of a resume type listing, I thought it would be more beneficial to tell you my story.

Education:

I grew up in Hurst, TX, which is a small town outside of Fort Worth and near the DFW airport.

I came to Austin in 1992 to attend The University of Texas at Austin. I started off studying towards a major in Engineering Route to Business. This degree combines business and engineering and is based out of the McCombs School of Business. I’m lucky I chose this because the business school is almost impossible to transfer into if you don’t start there. This major seemed to be a good fit because it combined my business interests with my math skills. Yes, I was one of those lucky kids who just “got” math and had great teachers so I always thought math was easy. During the spring of my sophomore year, I had my first accounting class, and I thought, hey, this is really interesting. I like the math and rules.

One day towards the end of the semester, my accounting professor pulled me aside after class and said I was doing really well in his class and he’d like to recommend me to the 5 year Professional Program of Accounting (PPA). This is a program where you get your BBA and MPA at the same time. They currently call this program the Integrated MPA program. I was flattered and intrigued by the idea of getting a masters degree after 5 years of college. Since I was paying (i.e., financing) my way through school, I thought the faster the better! I went to the introductory meeting and thought why not apply. The worst that could happen was that I wouldn’t be accepted and I’d stay on my current route.

I am happy to say that I was accepted to the program and really enjoyed my accounting classes. The first PPA course was a required course and all first year students were required to take it. This class has been an influence on me to this day. Professor Ross Jennings assigned us to groups of 4 students and told us to find an uncommon commonality for our group. One of the guys in my group has become a life-long friend, and in fact, 3 people from that class are still really close friends.

Towards the end of the that first semester they wanted us to choose between Audit or Tax tracks. I really didn’t know anything about either subject so I chose tax because that’s the one my friends chose. I figured if it was going to be a coin-toss, I should at least go on this adventure with friends by my side. It ended up being the best choice for me, so I’m very happy to have had my friends encouragement to select the tax track.

There you have it, that’s how I became a tax accountant.

Employment

During the PPA program you were required to work a semester at an accounting firm for an internship. I received an offer from 4 of the 6 Big Six firms at the time and I selected Coopers & Lybrand. When I graduated in 1997, I was offered a full-time job at C&L as a tax associate in their Dallas, TX, office. I worked there for about 1 month as a C&L employee and then they merged with Price Waterhouse to become PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP. I stayed on with PwC in their Dallas, TX, office until 1999 when I was given an opportunity to move to their Austin, TX, office. It should be no surprise that I didn’t hesitate to make the move back to Austin, TX. I worked in the PwC Austin office until 2002. If the date doesn’t give it away, let me tell you this was a tumultuous time in Austin. My clients were literally going out of business on a weekly basis so I wasn’t surprised when I was one of the ones included in their reduction in force.

Leaving PwC was one of the best things to happen to me. I was able to work a few temporary job assignments in small CPA firms around town and learned new skills in each one. Then, an opportunity of a lifetime (for me) came open. I was hired to be the accountant for a theater company called Broadway Texas. This was a theater company that had gone out of business and was trying to revive their theater. There were a lot challenges that non-profit organizations in Austin were going through, but mostly it was that funding and contributions dried up with the crashing of the economy. Unfortunately, Broadway Texas had to close down for good after I was there for about 9 months. I have to say that I really enjoyed this job because I grew up taking drama, singing and dance classes so it was a marriage of two strong interests (theater and accounting). It was definitely a crash-course in back office accounting. Since I was the only accountant and had my CPA license, I was responsible for all the bookkeeping and tax filings. I had never seen payroll tax reports but I figured it out. In fact, I think that not having any help was tremendously important in building my confidence in the accounting field. I really did learn that it didn’t matter what challenge you threw at me, I could figure it out.

I worked closely with the president of the Broadway Texas Board of Directors to take the theater into bankruptcy. It was a sad affair to see so many people in the theater community lose this resource but it was a tremendous experience for me to be part of this organization, even if it was for a short period of time.

I immediately went to work with The Mangold Group, LLC once we finished up Broadway Texas. I started out on a contract basis to assist with some specific projects but it worked out and I stayed on with them until 2007. This was an interesting position where I did the daily bookkeeping for our clients, I also prepared their sales tax returns, payroll tax returns and income tax returns. We were basically hired to be our clients outsourced back office. I was really able to strengthen my accounting skills and advisory skills with this kind of work because I could see the transaction from buying the products and then selling the products all the way through the tax returns that include these transactions. I had clients that were in many different industries so this was a great way to learn the similarities and differences between different areas of the economy.

Towards the end of 2006 I was approached by a placement professional to make a move and become the tax manager at Calhoun, Thomson + Matza, LLP. This was another great move for me. I made the move because one of the partners I had worked with at PwC was at CTM and I really enjoyed working with him. CTM had a new challenge for me because of one our specialties is the insurance industry. I didn’t know anything about the insurance industry or that insurance companies have their own tax returns. By the way, they use Forms 1120-PC and 1120-L. Working with insurance companies has really been fun and challenging. CTM makes sure all of our professional staff get annual training and regular updates on insurance accounting and tax issues. Our CTM Tax Department is really a mix of an insurance tax boutique firm, a tax provision firm, and a traditional local/regional accounting firm tax department . This variety really helps keep us challenged and engaged in our jobs.

This brings us up to the current so you might be asking yourself, why this blogging website. Well, like I mentioned above, I had a pretty creative youth and I see this as an outlet for being creative and building some writing skills. I can’t read the future so I’m not sure how this blog will evolve but I’m sure it will over time. Right now, I envision it being an extension of what I tweet about with my twitter handle cbriancpa. That would be mostly about business topics with a focus on tax, accounting and small business/entrepreneurial issues.

Odds and ends:

If you’ve made it this far you must be really curious or bored but here’s some more tidbits about what makes me, me.

If you’re curious about the “c” in cbriancpa, here’s the scoop. When I was at UT I had to get an email address back in 1993. That was a long time ago and, back then, there were a lot of options still available for email addresses. Of course, just “brian” was taken so I threw the “c” in front of it because Charles is my first name and I go by my middle name. This also helped because my professors always slipped and called me Charles and seeing the “c” in front of “brian” was a clever reminder that I don’t respond to being called Charles.

I have another blog that I’ve been writing for a few years now and it is in no way related to business or accounting. The blog Our Austintatious Life is a recipe blog that highlights my interest in cooking, especially Italian food, Mexican food and Tex-Mex food. This blog actually started back in the 2000’s when I realized that I didn’t have access to my favorite recipes when I travelled. So, I started a website using the Time Warner service that came along with our internet connection. They closed down that service so I slowly migrated it to a blog. At about that time, I started learning about and researching my Italian heritage so a lot of the recipes are from the Abruzzo region of Italy. Since I don’t have a strong connection to that branch of my family, I started learning about them through their food and customs. You’ll notice that most of the posts come immediately after busy season, when I have more time to actually write out the recipes that we try.

I also have a small third blog call Our Breck Condo that focuses on my second home in Breckenridge, Co. I try to spend as much time as possible in Breckenridge ever since we bought our condo. In order to do this, I am extremely lucky that our accounting firm lets me work remotely when I’m up there. Have no doubt that I don’t go up there in busy season because that would be too hard, but the tax department is typically slower in the middle of summer (June and July) and winter (December and January) so I am able to go for a couple weeks at a time. We also try to get in a trip at the end of busy season in April, during the years that the mountain stays open after the April 15th deadline and right after the October 15th fall deadline.

If you have any questions, please send me a note in the comments below or send me a message on the contact page.

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  1. Pingback: What is a Captive Insurance Company? | C. Brian Streig, CPA

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