When did you join Sloan Group?
I joined the team six years ago when Sloan Group acquired the firm I had worked for since 2007. I was impressed with how entrepreneurial the firm is and how it promotes thinking outside the box. I also enjoy the fact that it gives me a lot of freedom to come up with my own creative solutions to solving client issues and problems.
Tell us about your background?
I grew up in Toronto and graduated with honours from York University in 2006. I began working in a CA firm with a significant audit and assurance focus while earning my Certified General Accounting designation, followed by a Public Accounting License.
I always wanted to be in business. The great comedian Jackie Mason once said, “Did you ever hear of a kid playing accountant – even if he wanted to be one?” Well, I was that kid. Early on, my dad suggested accounting as a profession because of my skill set and he pushed me in that direction, and I’m very glad he did. At University, I especially enjoyed organizational behavior, which is the study of how organizational structures and processes influence worker behavior and motivation. That background has allowed me to evaluate how my advice impacts a client’s entire organization.
What is your main accounting focus at Sloan?
I mainly concentrate on tax planning and compliance for businesses. When not doing that, I am one of the firm’s quality control reviewers for audit and assurance reporting and I also sub-specialize in charities and non-profits.
I also write tax articles for the firm’s blog. I enjoy writing, and that skill developed as I progressed in my tax career. It is gratifying when I can educate people on topics of interest.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is when I devise and implement a solution that benefits the client. It is very satisfying when I can give a client good news when resolving a tax issue.
Tax is not a value-added expense. The more you can save – staying within legislation – the better the outcome for the client. I spend a lot of time getting people out of tax trouble and running interference with the CRA. CRA is not experts in taxes; it operates more as the tax police. When a client finds themselves in a situation with the CRA, I jump in and evaluate the available options. Unfortunately, it’s often after the fact. The biggest value for the client is to be proactive with a tax plan. Trying to work retroactively after the fact is not the optimal situation. I never like to say, “Sorry, you should have come to me earlier.”
How would you describe yourself and your accounting style?
I am very pragmatic and try always to think outside-the-box. By nature, accounting is very compliance-based, so it is important to identify creative solutions while working within those tax rules. The result or outcome the client or stakeholder is seeking drives my work. Clients appreciate that kind of value from an accountant.
And now a few personal questions.
Tell us a little about your family life.
I am married with three young children. I spend most of my free time with my family – that is my priority.
Tell us a little about your involvement in the Jewish community in Toronto?
I am a member of a local synagogue and attend on a regular basis. I also help with accounting and tax compliance for a charity in the community.
Do you have any hobbies or special interests/volunteer activities outside of the office that you’d like to share?
I enjoy many different sports, including floor hockey, baseball, and basketball and I also play the guitar. But I don’t devote much time to those things these days. I’m sure one day I will get back to enjoying those things but now I’m focused on bigger and better things, and that’s raising a family.
Roman Belenky, CPA, CGA, BAS, is a supervisor at Sloan Partners focusing on tax planning and compliance. Feel free to contact Roman firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-665-7735 (ext. 227).