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The Tax Pack: hot accountants of DFW

Posted 5:01pm on Thursday, Apr. 14, 2011

We don't quite know when, and we don't know why, but at some point in history, accountants got a reputation for being a bunch of squares.

Maybe it was because they were the ones who were thinking about their 401(k) contributions when they were sophomores in high school.

Or the ones who looked at a new adding machine or 10-key the way most of us might gaze covetously at an iPad or Mercedes.

Or the ones who speak in the same dispassionate, just-the-facts tone, whether they're telling you that you're getting a $5,000 refund, or that you're about to be audited.

The truth of the matter, though, is much more complicated. For every dull accountant, there are dozens more who are quirky, creative, funny and passionate. A disproportionate number of them are sly practical jokers (spend a day behind a desk, pouring over numbers, and you start to come up with very clever ways to get a rise out of the guy in the next cubicle). Heck, turns out even some of them are women.

With tax day fast approaching, we decided it was time to bust the boring stereotype once and for all. We put out the call last month, inviting people to nominate themselves or colleagues. We asked our own accountants if they knew anyone who fit the bill. (Inevitably, the response was: "So you don't think I'm sexy?")

Eventually, we settled on the folks we're calling the sexiest accountants in the Metroplex: Three men and two women who look good in a suit, but just as good wrapped in calculator tape; folks who remind us that style and smarts need not necessarily be mutually exclusive; accountants with killer smiles and creative deductions and attitude to burn. Which is to say: Just because they've mastered the art of e-filing, doesn't mean they can't also be hot.

So sit back and enjoy meeting five folks whom we'd be more than happy to have handle our EZ forms.

But first, don't forget to file your taxes. This year, you have until midnight April 18, three days later than usual.

Ricky Rhine Age: 38 going on 21 Occupation: Accountant with Whitley Penn L.L.P. in Fort Worth, where he's worked for 10 years. He's a tax partner, "but I wear many hats."
Resides: Southlake
Ricky Rhine

His zealous nomination: There was a huge push by members of Ricky's firm to nominate him for our Sexy Accountants package. The nomination included two poems and a picture that photoshopped Ricky's head onto the body of Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino. The charge was led by colleague Toby Cotton, who wrote, in part: "[Ricky] never ceases to amaze me with how cool he makes accounting look. Just this past weekend he was wearing designer jeans and a V neck graphic T-shirt that most accountants would cringe at the thought of wearing, since it's outside their normal pleated khakis and starch[-ed] shirts."

How do you bust the boring accountant stereotype?

Being the lead guitarist for the classic rock band Whipping Post. [Think Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Bob Seger and the like] I think they're surprised that I like hard rock music -- Metallica, things like that.

Obviously, you're great at math, right?

Not really. We have to use our calculators a lot. I can add up the numbers, but I can't do it without a 10-key. I've always been good at math, but it wasn't like math was what drove me to accounting.

No? What was it?

I think when you get into it, you think accounting is putting together financials and just kind of working with numbers and tax returns, but at the end of the day it's more of a consulting relationship. So we deal with anything from tax planning to clients that have personal issues, death, weddings, divorces ... sometimes you're a psychiatrist, sometimes you're just somebody they can lean on, bend an ear or whatever.

Have you ever dated another accountant? Not one as sexy as me.

Have you ever cheated on your taxes? No, how about you?

Other than yourself, who's the sexiest accountant you know? The guy [in the cover photo] behind me in the bolo tie. Frank Meyer. He's a bolo-tie wearer, a staff accountant, an all-around hilarious guy. Frank does the best Napoleon Dynamite impersonation you've ever heard.

What advice would you give to someone looking to find the perfect accountant? They don't have to be sexy like me, but [they] should be someone you trust and gives you their best.

There was a big push in your office for your nomination as a Sexy Accountant. Let me direct this question to Toby Cotton [who nominated Ricky]: Why Ricky?

"I think Ricky's fan base is worldwide," Cotton says. "He just extends far beyond the United States. His fans love him. The reality is that all the staff up here look to Ricky as kind of a mentor, and a role model, and that's why there was such a big push."

Lauren Cruson

Age: 26

Lauren Cruson Occupation: General ledger accountant at LQ Management, La Quinta's corporate office. My job entails looking at profit and loss reports for the 400 corporate-owned properties the company manages.

Resides: Flower Mound

When did you fall in love with numbers?

I've always been good at numbers and math. (She played math with her baby dolls when she was a child.) In college, I started taking accounting courses, and my father encouraged me to pursue accounting as a career. Numbers just grew on me.

How do you bust the boring accountant stereotype?

I'm very outgoing, very smiling and love to talk to people. The dirty shirt, smelly tax-accountant type stressed out behind a cluttered desk is a running joke among accountants and clients, but more and more, young, good looking accountants, are entering the workforce. I think that's how it's going to trend for awhile.

Have you ever dated another accountant?

No. I'm married, but my husband works for the Dallas Stars in corporate sponsorship and advertising. Typically, friends get bored with me and ask more about his job.

Have you ever cheated on your taxes?

One thing I don't know how to do is my own taxes. I always take them to someone who can do them.

Other than yourself, who's the sexiest accountant you know?

I don't know of any others, but being attractive and young has been a hindrance at times. People don't take you quite as seriously. Still, there is something to be said for the stereotypical accountant type. I'm nerdy in my own right, and people like me are drawn to the work because you don't have be social or in front of people. And take it from a professional, if you find yourself in a room with an IRS auditor, you should make yourself look nice. Don't be so serious and uptight! If your numbers are right, your attitude and presence should reflect that as well.

What advice would you give to someone looking to find the perfect accountant?

Looks shouldn't matter when it comes to an accountant. Go with someone you trust.

Andrea Brown

Age: 32 (although I still feel 22)

Occupation: Accountant, Craig Hamilton and Co., a west Fort Worth firm. "I handle everything from accounts receivable and payroll taxes to financial statements. Since August of last year, I've been working on-site at the Recovery Resource Council, a drug rehab facility."

Resides: North Arlington

Andrea Brown

When did you fall in love with numbers? "Honestly, it was in elementary school. It came naturally. I took my first accounting class in high school (at Martin High School in Arlington), and it was a no-brainer for me." She later graduated from UTA. But she cautions: "The whole numbers thing, it's my day job. After that it's out of my mind."

How do you bust the boring accountant stereotype? "I'm certainly not the quiet type.... And the tattoos throw everyone off. I got my first tattoo when I was 18 (A sun on her lower back). I have five now and plan on getting more." She has a butterfly on her upper back. And elaborate Day of the Dead tattoo on her upper right arm.

Do you have to keep the tats covered at work? Sometimes, but a ton of the staff at my current client (Recovery Resource Council) has tattoos, so I can actually sport them.

In general, how do people react when they find out your an accountant? Most people say: "No you're not." I guess I just don't fit that stereotype. I have to show them my business card.... I've had people tell me that I seem too cool to be an accountant. And I'm like, "Right on."

Have you ever dated another accountant? No, honestly because there are so many boring people in our industry. But one of my closest friends at work met her boyfriend at work. They're meant for each other. So there are exceptions.... But for me, no.

Have you ever cheated on your taxes? No! And people don't really ask me to help them cheat on their taxes. But they do ask me to please, please, please find any and all credits so they can make this whole thing a little less awful.

What would you do if you weren't an accountant: I used to want to be a forensic pathologist. I have a sick, twisted mind.

Other than yourself, who's the sexiest accountant you know? I don't know many. Honestly.

What advice would you give to someone looking to find the perfect accountant?

Find someone you can talk to. Someone you can trust. Someone you can get a hold of any given time of the day. We have a lot of one-on-one time with our clients, and that's what keeps them around. You definitely want an accountant who suggests ideas and helps you get the most money back.

What if after this story you're known simply as The Hot Accountant: (Laughs) That's just fine.

John Cooper

Age: 32

Occupation: Partner, Mesch, McBride & Cooper

Resides: Originally from Oklahoma: now lives in Fort Worth

JOhn Cooper

John is 6 foot, 6 inches tall, married and says he is sometimes described as "apple pie." We took one look at him and thought, That guy looks like he should be playing football.

Did you play sports in high school or college?

In high school, I lettered in four sports: football, basketball, baseball and discus for our track team. I had offers to play Division II college football, but chose Oklahoma State based on academic scholarships. I was always interested in business from an early age -- I started mowing yards for neighbors at age 14 -- and I knew I wouldn't be going pro in athletics based on football and basketball camps I attended. Those top-tier recruits blew me away physically.

So how did you end up going into accounting?

I guess you could say that it was my mom, who is also CPA, telling me that it is a pretty good field to go into. Her father was an accountant, too. I'm third generation.

What would you say is the stereotype of the typical accountant, and how are you different?

I would say the stereotype is a guy who wears glasses, with clothes that don't match. Most people think it's somebody who doesn't like to talk with people. I'm the total opposite. I would rather go and spend time with my client, and go out and hang out with them. Plus my sense of humor and my dance skills.

Who's the coolest accountant you know, other than yourself?

An ex-partner from Ernst & Young, where I used to work. He was able to relate to new people who were just out of college, and to partners that had been in the field for 25 years. When he needed to be serious, he could be serious, but when he wanted to let loose, he let loose. Oh, and he knew his [Internal Revenue] Code.

What's the one thing you wish more people understood about accountants?

People underestimate us. If you're going through a divorce, for instance, the first thing you're going to do is call a lawyer. But the second thing you should do is call a CPA. People need to understand that you can form a good relationship with your accountant, and that he's going to be someone who looks out for you and wants you to succeed. We're not like a law firm that's just going to bill out everything. If you think you can't afford one, you should look around.

Do you do your own taxes?


Have you ever cheated on your taxes?


What's your most creative deduction you've ever taken for a client?

Dance lessons. I don't want to go into too much detail, but let's say it was a professional expense for my client.

Was your client a stripper?

No comment.

Any advice for people who still haven't filed their taxes?

Just have all your ducks in a row. If you have everything ready, punching out a return is no problem.

Gordon Pun

Age: "in his 30s" (Gordon declined to give his actual age; who says accountants aren't vain?)

Occupation: Corporate traveling accountant for Prism Hotels and Resorts in Addison

Resides: Originally from Hong Kong, now lives in Grand Prairie

Gordon Pun

When did you fall in love with numbers?

Accounting is a love-hate relationship. As much as you hate it, it grows on you.

How do you bust the boring accountant stereotype?

I have to keep on changing my attitude to make it work. It's easy to get stuck in a stereotypical accountant rut. It's definitely up to me to be much more interesting. I want to be able to reach out on the weekends. I play hard on the weekends with the Dallas Independent Volleyball Association.... A friend of mine dared me to try out for Fear Factor so sure enough, there I was jumping from the hood to the trunk of a car swinging 40 feet in the air. Yes, at the end, I won.

Have you ever dated another accountant?

Yes. I don't think dating someone within your occupation really makes a difference but someone who understands what you do certainly helps. They get it and won't complain, "Hey, it's 11 p.m.. What the hell are you still doing on your computer?"

Have you ever cheated on your taxes?

No. I am the one who does the audits in my company, and I know people smile to my face and cuss when I walk away, but numbers tell you the truth.

Other than yourself, who's the sexiest accountant you know?

No matter how good [someone] looks, three cannot equal four. Accountants are sticklers for the very black-and-white world of numbers. That's why we give people such an impression we are such [jerks]. No one likes to be told the truth when it's bad news, especially when it comes to finances.

What advice would you give to someone looking to find the perfect accountant?

Go with someone on time and timely. Also, look for someone who is honest and accurate. Stubborn is also a good attribute in an accountant. You want someone on your side. You especially want that stubborn accountant on your side if you're audited!

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