You could say that Chris Benson was destined to become an accountant. Not only is his father an accountant, but his parents also taught him to work hard, save, and be smart with his finances. He also had an interest in finance from an early age, which his father helped foster. Today, Benson helps other people make smart financial decisions as a manager at his father’s firm, LK Benson & Company in Townson, Md., where he does tax and financial planning.
Question: How do you describe what you do to people outside the field?
Benson: “I help people develop a plan for their personal finances that will allow them to reach all their life goals. I prepare tax returns, monitor portfolios, review cash flow and insurance needs, prepare retirement projections, and answer any questions our clients might have about their finances.”
Question: Accounting often has a reputation for being “boring.” Is this fair? How would you dispel this myth?
Benson: “What is boring varies from person to person. Accounting is a very broad term and sometimes you need to find your niche in accounting before you really find what you enjoy. I started in auditing but found that boring so I moved to the tax department. Corporate tax also bored me so I focused on individuals and eventually moved into personal financial planning. Now I get to work with people on a daily basis and I get to make a difference in my clients’ lives and there is nothing boring about that!”
Question: What are the best aspects of your job?
Benson: “Helping people is by far the best part of my job! Nothing feels better than having a client tell me how grateful they are for the work we’ve done for them and that happens all the time. Personal finances are one of the biggest stresses in life and people don’t take enough time to understand everything and come up with a plan. We help them do that and try to alleviate some of the stress.”
Question: Where do you see the profession headed? For people just starting their education or their professional career, what should they consider specializing in or studying?
Benson: “Well I might be biased here but there is clearly a growing need for financial planners in this country and I think CPAs have the skills and knowledge to fill this void. Financial planning is an incredibly rewarding and satisfying career path and I would encourage anyone starting out in their career as a CPA to consider it.”