One year ago, our firm changed over from a corporation – RINA Accountancy Corporation to a limited liability partnership – RINA Accountants & Advisors LLP. Coupled with this change, was new leadership with Tom Neff becoming our new Managing Partner.
Tom is based out of our Oakland office and has been with RINA since 2002. His goal as a visionary and strategic leader is threefold:
- To engage and grow future generation of leaders, and work with our younger staff to develop their leadership abilities.
- To understand how the profession is changing and evolving and continue to innovate and adapt to the market and accounting industry demands.
- To no longer be historians - firms that will succeed and thrive in today’s environment know that we need to develop the skills to truly be a business partner to our clients.
In between trying to minimize his clients’ tax burdens, we had a chance to speak with Tom about work, his outside interests and more.
Here are five questions with Tom Neff.
- What is the most enjoyable part of your work?
I think it's getting to know the people that I work with.
One of the best things about this industry is just having an opportunity to meet so many different kinds of people. And I would say I found in this profession – it's almost 100%. Really nice, intelligent people that come from all different backgrounds. I really working with a new manager on one of my accounts and getting to know that person and learning their work style, their communication style, learning personal stuff about them, their kids, their pets, where they're from.
- What your interests outside of work?
My wife and I are free to explore. Our kids are grown and off, for the most part, doing their own thing now.
We grew up on the East Coast. We've been in the Bay Area for 25 years now, and we just love everything that the Bay Area has to offer. We took our dog down to the beach Saturday for a hike down in Half Moon Bay. And before the pandemic, we were out almost every weekend hiking up in the Oakland Hills. Or Golden Gate Park. So we like to be out hiking, spending time with our dog.
- What contributions to the firm would you like most to be remembered for?
I would say I feel proud of the success that RINA Wealth Management has enjoyed so far and the fact that it's given us an opportunity to provide really high-level planning for our clients. Now, we have access to some pretty high-level planning ideas that we've never had before and can share them with clients.
We are currently managing a half a billion dollars of assets. If I'm remembered as being one of the people who helped to launch that and see it through to success, then, you know, I'd feel pretty proud about that.
- What was the last book that you read?
I'll give you one business book and one personal book. And business book was Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman. Really, it's a pretty popular methodology that's preached by the Vistage community, and it's a way to improve decision making within your business. And putting processes in place to help the business succeed. So that's the business one.
The personal one is the biography about the Wright brothers by David McCullough. I love that book! It's just about everything that makes America such an amazing place, these two guys working in their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, which is where I’m from. You know what the Wright Brothers did – just a fascinating look into their lives and their quirky personalities. And one of the interesting things about them is that they were competing with a few others – there was sort of an arms race at the time among a couple of different factions who had more money and received all the publicity. Yet the Wright brothers with no fanfare, no financial backing did it – just, two brilliant, quirky guys who were just more passionate about it.
- Where do you see the industry going in the next couple years?
I think that advances in technology are requiring firms to pivot to a new way of doing business. Technology is just making more of a lot of the things we do automated. And I think the firms that are going to survive are the ones that can really move away from being compliance-focused to just more focused on consulting and helping our clients to succeed. So the industry is being forward looking rather than you know, historians.