HIA-LI CEO BRIEF
Featuring Kenneth Cerini, CPA, CFP of Cerini & Associates, LLP
Tell us about how you/your company started.
Back in 1993, I gave notice to the managing partner of the Long Island office of Ernst & Young and started C&A out of my converted two-car garage. I had a newborn and a one year-old at home and had to take on a newspaper route in order to pay the family bills. Flash forward 24 years…we are a nearly 50 person firm that has developed a strong reputation on Long Island for being responsive, innovative, and providing real value to our client relationships. Change can be scary, but oftentimes it’s much more fun and rewarding then complacency. Sometimes you just need to take the rollercoaster ride and see where it takes you.
What was a turning point for you/your company?
It’s funny, as you go through the entrepreneurial journey, you come to so many forks in the road, paths you need to choose. Everyone is a turning point that leads to the next. There are so many threads woven into the tapestry of the firm’s history, some positive and some negative, but all of them have helped shape the firm and brought us to where we are now. The biggest turning point is made up of a lot of smaller hiring decisions that has put together the staff that makes up C&A. We have a team of people that are dedicated in making a difference in the lives of the clients we serve.
What is your philosophy at C&A?
At times it feels like there are more accountants on Long Island then there are people. Accountants are reportedly the trusted advisor, but too often accountants are historians, reporting on what has already happened as opposed to providing insight into what an organization or business owner needs to move forward. We pride ourselves on not being a firm of accountants, but instead we train and develop business advisors who are focused on taking our clients to the next level in their growth and development. We believe in educating our clients and going beyond the norms to provide real value-added advice. I would say that our philosophy is to be different thinkers and difference makers.
Tell us about your company’s profile today.
Many people think of C&A as a firm that is focused on the nonprofit sector. While this is a large portion of what we do (we’re one of the top 10 firms in the New York metropolitan area in this market), we also have dedicated staff working with companies in technology, construction, real estate, health care, finance, service, retail, manufacturing, and more. We have specialists in tax controversy, litigation support, management advisory services, royalty audits, and more. We have grown to be a full-service advisory firm, with dedicated staff in many niche industries to provide high-end targeted services to each of our clients. In addition, we have a concentration in education, working with public schools, private schools, charter schools, and special education providers.
What opportunities do you see in the future?
We believe that there is a tremendous level of opportunity for us to continue to help clients and bring our unique client-centric approach to more nonprofits and businesses here on Long Island and in the New York metropolitan area. We continue to experience double digit growth, which allows for continued staff specialization, increased employment opportunities for Long Island accounting students, and increased education of the industries we serve. Over the next five years, we are expecting our largest growth to occur within our for-profit practice, as more businesses become aware of our capabilities to help guide them in business, operational, tax, compliance, and even international matters. What differentiates us from most other firms is that we are first and foremost business people ourselves; we have lived many of the same issues are clients are facing. As a result, we understand what it takes to be successful business people, a skillset we can bring to the table for the benefit of our clients.