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Firm Management

Brian Michels, CPA – 2015 40 Under 40 Honoree

This year’s 40 Under 40 honorees are among the best and brightest talent in the accounting profession. They are all active in the professional community, as well as in their local communities, where many are small business owners and employers.

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Brian Michels, CPA – 33

Sheehan & Company, CPA, PC
Brightwaters, NY


What is the name of one book that has been a great influence to you?

Missed Fortune by Douglas Andrew. This book has allowed me to utilize some alternative thinking to some common flawed financial strategies.

In what ways have you contributed to your firm/company to make it better?

I have played key roles in several firm initiatives including moving to a paperless engagement software allowing for increased firm efficiency and realization on audits, reviews and compilations. As a member of the quality control committee of the firm, we are in the process of implementing a new approach for assessing risk in financial statement audits. I also mentor several staff at the firm providing advice and guidance allowing them to succeed in their careers. I continue to challenge myself to have a personal impact within the firm and find solutions on various firm wide issues.

In what ways do you participate in the professional community to change/improve the accounting profession?

I am an officer on the board of directors for the New York State Society of CPA’s as the current President – Elect. I have been a member of the New York State Society of CPA’s for over 12 years. During that time I have held the position of Chairperson of the NextGen Committee which provided a forum for CPAs new to the profession to meet other accountants and network with other business professionals.

Currently, I am the chairman of the real estate and construction committee where we strive to serve our members including providing continuing education to accounting professionals and members in industry on topics such as sales tax law, cost segregation and construction accounting principles. In addition, I often speak to college students majoring in accounting, providing them with advice as they begin their careers in the accounting profession. Throughout the year we host and speak at educational events for business owners and other professionals on various tax and accounting topics. Knowledge is power and sharing that knowledge with clients and peers provides added value to client relationships and helps improve the professional community.

In what ways do you participate in your local community to help others?

As important it is to become involved internally within your firm or company I believe it is equally as important to be involved and give back to your local community. Each year I participate in a Toys for Tots drive to benefit underprivileged children on Long Island. A few years ago, with the help of others, I started a “Treats for Troops” drive to collect food and non perishable items for our troops serving overseas. To date we have shipped thousands of pounds of items to our troops abroad.  It was a humbling moment to receive thank you letters and pictures from several service men and women.  I am also a member of my local chamber of commerce where we encourage residents to “shop local”, which helps promote growth and new business within the community. During 2012, I provided pro bono tax work helping families affected by hurricane Sandy.

What changes do you foresee in the accounting profession of the near future (3-5 years)?

I believe in the next 3-5 years the accounting profession will see many changes in the form of technology. Bring your own device (BYOD) policies, mobile devices and cloud computing, in my opinion, will become much more popular within the accounting profession. Everyone is on the go these days. People want to have client data at their fingertips and be able to access it from anywhere in the world. I also see social media becoming much more utilized within accounting firms and the accounting profession.

How do you see yourself participating in shaping the future of the accounting profession?

Through my involvement with the New York State Society of CPA’s and other professional memberships I continue to look for opportunities to leverage my business relationships to promote and enhance the profession. I believe it’s important to change the perception of the accounting profession by businesses to more of a trusted advisor offering far more than the traditional tax return preparation and financial statement preparation.

What is your career philosophy?

From the time I was very young my parents always instilled in me that hard work pays off and a little extra goes a long way. The “work hard – play hard” philosophy is always something I have followed. A good work / life management is important and brings success. I always try to balance my work life with an interesting fulfilling personal life.

Describe one person who has been an important mentor to you and how that person helped change your life.

Cynthia Barry is a partner at my firm and has taken me under her wing from the day I started as an intern with the firm over 12 years ago. She has encouraged me to get involved in outside organizations such as the New York State Society of CPAs. She has and continues to mentor me and push me to be the best person I can be both personally and professionally. She has provided me with advice on client and staffing issues and continues to challenge me with new opportunities. I am happy to call her not only a mentor but a friend.       I would not be where I am today without her guidance and support.


See all of the “40 Under 40” honorees for 2015.