When Patty DiFlorio, CPA (certified public accountant), started college, she knew she wanted to be in the business world. And, when she really enjoyed her first accounting class, she decided that was the career she’d pursue.
But her first role wasn’t your typical accounting job. DiFlorio worked for the Casino Control Commission in New Jersey as Manager of Casino Accounting and Operations.
“My team’s job was to review and test the procedures at the casinos to assure they were compliant,” she explains. “We also collaborated with lawyers to write regulations and reviewed the games to confirm they were run fairly. One of the most satisfying (and fun) projects was to run ‘play nights’ with fake money prior to a casino’s opening. We’d evaluate their readiness to open and give them final approval.”
Shortly after she started this job, DiFlorio’s dad convinced her to sit for the CPA exam. And she’s forever grateful he did, because being a CPA opened a lot of doors for her.
“I wanted to be a full-time mother and stay involved in accounting, and developing an expertise in tax allowed me to do that. I could work part-time and have flexible hours,” she explains. For about 15 hours each week, she worked for a large tax service.
In 2007, when her children were a bit older, she started consulting for Spectrum Gaming Group on a variety of projects. And, in 2013, DiFlorio started her own business—PMD Tax and Consulting Services.
“I wanted to do things my own way and charge fair fees. Now, it feels great to control my own destiny,” she shares. These days, she consults on a job-by-job basis and, during tax season, dives head-first into doing taxes. By the end of this year’s tax season, she’ll have worked with 75 clients.
Keep reading to learn more about DiFlorio’s career story, including what she loves about being an accountant.
What’s Been Your Favorite Job So Far?
Working as a consultant later in my career has been my favorite yet. I’d been away from that world for many years, so it was a big challenge. I had to familiarize myself with all new industry practices and, at times, I was scared that I didn’t know enough.
And while pushing myself outside my comfort zone was scary, I felt stronger and more confident when I did. Ultimately, in addition to help from friends and mentors, this experience gave me the confidence to start my own practice.
What’s the Best Part About Being an Accountant?
Without a doubt helping people. It feels so rewarding when clients say how comfortable they feel with me and that I’ve made the tax process so easy for them. My clients have become like family to me.
One woman used to get hives when she came for a tax visit because she was so nervous, but we laugh about that now. Another was very ill with cancer. When his wife asked if I could come to their house for our appointment since he couldn’t make it out, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. My client broke down crying, saying that he was so grateful because he knew I’d take care of things for his wife. He’s since passed away, but his wife’s still my client today.
What’s the Biggest Accounting Stereotype You Want to Shut Down Right Now?
That we’re boring, stuffy people who crunch numbers all day. That’s so far from the truth. The tax profession’s about serving people, offering advice, and forming long-term working relationships.
Any Good Tax Advice for Our Readers?
If you’re having someone do your taxes for you, make sure you trust them. Check their background and experience, and make sure they’ll be available to you after tax season is over.
If you’re using online services to do your taxes, read all the questions very carefully and answer them correctly. If you’re not sure, don’t just guess. Seek support.
What’s One Piece of Career Advice You Like to Give to Others?
Form relationships and act professionally always. The director of Spectrum told me that the reason he contacted me to work for him after almost 20 years was because he remembered my professionalism and that I was easy to work with. No one wants to work with someone who’s difficult.
I’ve told all three of my children, “Be the kind of employee that makes things happen. Don’t wait for someone to ask you or direct you.”