Featured ACAT Spotlight: Terri Ryman

Terri Ryman, EA, ATA, ATP, CSA
Southwest Tax & Accounting
Elkhart, KS

I have always been an accountant, first with the SW KS Area Agency on Aging, and later with Northern Natural Gas, Butler Manufacturing Company, and National Carriers.  My husband Jerry and I wanted to raise our family in a small town, and when we moved to Elkhart, KS (Pop 2000) jobs were scarce.  So that is when I established Southwest Tax & Accounting.   We moved to Elkhart in 1988, so this is my 25th year.  We started with 105 tax clients, and have expanded to as many as 615 over the years.  I currently have four employees working with me and they are all self-starters.  I can leave and everything still gets done, deadlines met, and clients taken care of.  We electronically file EVERYTHING (Income Tax, Payroll Taxes, Sales Tax, and Franchise Tax, to name a few.)  That is our logo:  e-File it!!

Why did you initially decide to earn an ACAT credential? What are the benefits of earning a credential?When I started out on my own, waaay out in Western Kansas, I had no contacts, resources, or other folks to network with.  It was rumored even back in the Eighties that the IRS was soon going to require credentials, and I wanted to get certified BEFORE being forced to.  I earned my EA in 1992, along with my Certified Tax Professional Credential.  In 1996 I was awarded the ATA (Accredited Tax Advisor) and the ATP (Accredited Tax Preparer) credentials.  In 1999 I became a QuickBooks Certified Pro Advisor, and in 2008 I was awarded the Certified Senior Advisor designation.  Just this past fall I received the National Social Security Advisor credential.  Being credentialed gives me the confidence to assist clients in many different areas.  I typically attend 100-130 Continuing Education hours each year.

How did you promote your ACAT credential(s) or other credential(s) that you have earned? If someone asked you why you got the ATP what would you tell them?
I have all of my credentials framed and hanging on my wall.  Often they spark conversations (such as “What is an EA (ATA, CSA, etc.) and that lets me educate clients on the importance of working with a tax preparer and accountant that is credentialed and keeps up with the changing tax laws annually.  Before the internet, research was difficult being in a small town, so getting credentialed gave me resources for tax questions.  Additionally, I am a member of NSA, NATP, NAEA, and NSTP.  I get a lot of newsletters and updates from these organizations, and I also write articles for several of these publications and can promote my credentials that way.  And during the last three months of the year (before tax season) I write newspaper articles for our hometown paper describing the different tax seminars that I have attended that year, dropping in information regarding new tax law.  I always use my credentials for these articles.

What's one piece of advice you'd give someone just starting out:
Get credentialed and join your national and local chapter accounting organizations.  And volunteer.  Being on the Board of Directors for the Kansas Chapter of NATP was the best move I ever made!  Not only did I learn a lot about management, it gave me speaking opportunities, networking opportunities, and the chance to head committees that managed areas that I was unfamiliar with (such as scholarship administration, newsletter, and nominating committee duties).  Being active give you many opportunities to shine!  In the Western Chapter of PAAK (Public Accountant’s Assoc of Kansas) I have alternated through President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.  These offices have taught me a lot, and I highly recommend getting involved.

Describe your most interesting accounting or tax moment in 10 words or less:
Offer in Compromise settled for $11,000 on debt of $396,000.

After the numbers are crunched what do you do to unwind?
What “after”?  LOL.  I never seem to get any time off anymore, because tax season and IRS/KS correspondence seems to last year round.  But my favorite past time is reading, and doing my games on “Lumosity” which theoretically is supposed to keep me sharp and quick!  We’ll see.