To manage such a high number of audits each year, and with many clients located across the country, Joel and the staff travel frequently and so they rely heavily on technology and mobile connectivity. They scored a 199 on the Productivity Survey (www.CPAPracticeAdvisor.com/productivity), a free online tool that helps firms measure how their workflow practices and technologies compare to similar practices.
“When running a firm, you don’t have to be an expert in technology, you just have to be smart enough to figure out what’s working and what isn’t,” he said.
Joel notes that having spent several years at large and small firms, and on the commercial side exposed him to many specialties, and that he eventually found auditing to be the most interesting personally. After noting that he’s been in accounting since before some of his staff members were born, he said he owes his initial interest in accounting to advice from his mom.
“When I was a kid, my mom said, ‘You’re good in math, maybe you would like accounting.’ I had always had a slight entrepreneurial bent, from delivering newspapers, selling greeting cards and working retail, so I took a couple of bookkeeping classes in high school and then in college,” he said. That’s where a professor, the late Victor Bernard, sparked my interest and desire and got me hooked.”
Away From the Office
When it’s not the audit busy season and he can spend more time away from work, Joel said he loves to spend time with his wife Janice and his children. Daughter Eliana has just started her freshman year at the University of Michigan, and son Matthew is a high school junior.
The family is active in their synagogue, where Joel formerly served as treasurer but now much prefers being on the ritual committee and being a Torah reader. “It provides meaning to my life.”
He uses LinkedIn for business networking, but reserves Facebook for personal use. “It’s amazing how Facebook and other social media have helped us get to connect with many more people, and to better know people you’ve known for a long time. I enjoy following all of these changes and being a part of it.”
Other free time is spent reading thrillers on his Kindle, riding his bike, dabbling in genealogical research and writing on blogs, and he continues to dream about getting his pilot’s license. With one kid just starting college and the other joining her soon, that may have to wait.
What else sets Joel Ungar apart? “I can grill chicken really well.” I’m not sure if that’s a challenge or an invitation.