Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high-quality outsourced accounting at an affordable price. Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the workforce after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were previously overlooked. Protea strives to represent people from all backgrounds and provide an environment for them to grow and succeed in a setting that provides the flexibility and acceptance of who they are as people.
We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.
Protea Conversations in 2022 will focus on positive transformation and representation from all backgrounds. We are broadening our Conversations with the hope that these conversations will continue to create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges leaders face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.
In September 2022, we spent time with Yuri Kapilovich, Kapilovich & Associates LLC (K&A) CPA. Yuri leverages his experience with some of the largest firms in the country (Ernst & Young, Cohn, Reznick, etc.), working with some of the wealthiest individuals in the country to bring high-quality service to his clients.
Yuri’s journey through his life and career has been filled with many moves. Born in Minsk, Belarus, he moved to Israel at the age of 1 and to the US at 12. Moving to the US allowed him to understand the intricacies of culture, language, and the dynamics of people. After graduating college, Yuri began his career with Ernst & Young and then moved around five times before realizing he could not call any of those places home. That is when Kapilovich & Associates was born.
Yuri prides himself in his ability to be a down-to-earth, personable, professional, and fun accountant. He even created a whole movement centered around that on LinkedIn and his webpage The Fun CPA.
Tell us a little more about your decision to start a career in accounting and how you decided to start Kapilovich & Associates LLC.
Interestingly enough growing up I always thought I wanted to be in Finance. When I was going through college, there was a moment when I had to apply to business school and applied as a finance major. One of my pre-requisite classes confused me for another student and gave me a C instead of an A. That messed up my GPA enough to disqualify me from business school altogether. Scrambling around, I reached out to advisors, the teacher, and the business school and rectified the issue, but the finance major was filled. Accounting it was, and I rolled with it.
After college, I had quite a rocky journey in finding a job because my internship between my Junior and Senior year was canceled last minute, and I ended up tutoring instead of working; thus, finding a job was difficult. I finally found a job and got the offer, and two weeks before graduation it was pulled from me and delayed a year. I worked a couple of internships, reapplied, and got into EY Miami; the rest is history. After jumping another five firms, I finally realized it was time to go out on my own and that I was ready; thus, Kapilovich & Associates was born in August 2021.
What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?
The biggest challenge is overcoming the fear of the safety and security of a W-2 job with benefits. Before going out on my own, I was making $145K with medical, dental, and vision insurance for me, my wife, and my son. When kids are in the picture, leaving that job and hopping into self-employment becomes infinitely scarier. Quitting my job was rocky, too; I had a deal lined up to purchase a book of business for $100K, and it fell through 5 days after I gave notice. The temptation to cancel my resignation was quite heavy, but I continued. Beyond that, once the doors to self-employment opened, it’s been a fun ride of doing what I want, trying out my ideas, and rolling forward without looking back.
What are the short-term goals for your career and yourself?
My short-term goal at the moment is to grow my monthly revenue to a point where I can hire a bookkeeper full-time, pay them VERY well, and completely relinquish all my bookkeeping work to them. They would work a maximum of 40 hours a week and that’s how I want to structure my firm.
As for my personal goals I want to continue to have a relatively light schedule and always be there for my son. That’s the currency, the goal, and the vision. How much money I make is irrelevant to me (within means haha) as long as I can achieve time and freedom to do whatever I want. This philosophy applies to me, and it also applies to anyone working for me.
What is the best advice you have ever received that has helped you succeed?
I am very blessed to have had the experience I did in my career. Hopping firms has taught me what I do not want out of my firm, and, most importantly, it gave me connections with both the staff/seniors/managers at various firms and the clients who stayed in touch. The best advice I ever got came from a client who has become a friend. His net worth is more than $100M, and having the ability to call him up is priceless. His advice resonated with me: “don’t give up, show up, and add value at every step of the way” and “focus on recurring revenue.”
What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting?
The advice I’d give myself a year ago, right before starting, would be “get it in writing, Yuri.” Getting it in writing does not always guarantee anything, but I did not have that buyout contract in writing as it was a handshake deal, and it fell apart. No biggie, though. It’s all good now. A year ago, it was scary.
What advice do you give to others to help them be better leaders?
I frequently chat about this topic in my LinkedIn posts because I am about adding value. My advice to leaders is simple: Staff, not clients, first. Yes, I said it, staff, first. Take care of your people and remember that YOU work for them, not vice versa. When staff sees that you are working for them, taking care of them, and having their best interest in mind will pay you back 100 fold. When I was in the big firm, word would always get out that I take care of my staff and have their back no matter what. The best staff at these firms would want and ask to be with me because they knew they’d learn and they knew they’d be taken care of to the best of my abilities. Yes, even if it meant I was berated by partners for it (and I sure was).
A rude, demeaning, high-paying client has NO space in my business. I do not care if their fee is $30K a year. No one should be treated like this, and the client will be spoken to (that’s right, the client, not the staff), and if it repeats itself, the client is getting fired.
Can you share something interesting about yourself that will provide insight into who you are outside the professional space?
I was born in Belarus, lived in Israel for 11 years, moved to America at the age of 12 then moved around America a bit. This experience of moving around made me appreciate cultures, languages and cherish the differences in people. I love chatting with people and learning about their experiences. I also love aviation, boating, biking, outdoors, and a fun networking event.
As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will donate to Positive Images (https://www.posimages.org/). Positive Images is a grassroots nonprofit organization serving Sonoma County since 1990. Their LGBTQIA+ Community Center hosts multiple weekly support groups, a youth leadership development program, mentorship opportunities, an LGBTQIA+ Library, resource and referral station, and a Transformation Station. They proudly offer a warm, welcoming, and affirming environment for young people to explore their individual identities, develop leadership skills, and contribute to our collective community. Positive Images staff lead LGBTQIA+ Cultural Competency Trainings and presentations that educate the greater community focusing on human connection, compassion, and inclusion. Their goal is a community where all LGBTQIA+ people are valued, compassionate community members, creating a just society.
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