“Practical” is a word often associated with Karen Brosi. As we sat down for an interview in our snowy Bozeman, Montana office, Karen talked about her background as a tax professional and the upcoming challenges for CPAs in the New Year. “If I can help, I want to help,” she commented as we talked about her tax update seminars, noting that in 2018, “The challenge will be—for everyone in our business—in the form of the tax reform bill. We have not seen this kind of change in 30 years; as a result, it’s both a challenge and an opportunity. CPAs need to sharpen their pencils and look at the advice they’ve been giving.”
For Brosi, a CFP and EA with an extensive California tax practice of her own, challenge and opportunity often come paired. In the changing tax environment, she noted, “As a seminar speaker, the challenge is to bring ideas to the attendees.” She strives to present the practical; encouraging students with the concept that, “Here’s something new to bring to your clients.”
Brosi is no stranger to the tax world or presenting; she spoke competitively in high school and college, developing a skill set she’d later utilize as a speaker. Early in her career as a young tax professional in Silicon Valley, she focused her practice on employee stock options and real estate niches. As she attended continuing education on her own, she observed the industry boasted a mix of speakers—some talented presenters, while others struggled with the act of presentation. She saw a need for compelling, confident speakers—and an opportunity. Karen knew she already had the speaking skills and strove to develop her professional tax knowledge, beginning to speak publicly in the early 2000s.
She noted that Western CPE’s Vern Hoven and Sharon Kreider were instrumental in her development as a presenting tax professional. “I knew Sharon as an instructor,” Karen noted, “and she was extremely generous with her time and her commitment to mentoring.” The two ladies began to work together, eventually founding Western CPE’s immensely successful federal and California tax update program. Today, they still frequently present together.
We live in a fast-paced world, and Brosi is keenly aware that not everyone can know every topic thoroughly. She leverages her specific areas of knowledge and is always seeking to grow her own expertise.
Her best tip for tax professionals? “You have to have a network!” she shared, adding we all should strive to be the best at what we do, but not everyone can be an expert in everything. She counts on the “ability to lean inside someone’s door jamb” adage, noting the importance of strong communication within a network is crucial to success. Being able to access knowledge and education via companies like Western CPE helps immensely, she adds. Think of it as a knowledge database of sorts.
Balancing a busy schedule of her own between teaching tax update seminars and running her own tax practice, Karen still makes time for passions of her own. She noted her love for quality speakers has never faded. “I literally love listening to good speakers, even if it’s in a subject I don’t know or care that much about,” she stated. “I love watching technique; seeing what makes them a good speaker.”
She’s always keen to help other tax professionals, and her love of presenting is readily palpable. Expectedly, she frequently gets requests from people wanting to ask questions. She lives by two rules for incoming queries:
- Ask questions via email, and be prepared for a potentially slow response (just like all of us, she has her own business to attend to!)
- Research your query—do the homework beforehand
At the end of the day, Karen enjoys the juxtaposition between presenting and running her own successful tax practice. After 15 years with a regional CPA firm and nearly 14 in solo practice, she continually works to streamline her processes and better serve her clients. “I think being a practitioner makes me a better speaker,” she noted. The two businesses go hand-in-hand—two halves of a whole.
She continues to give powerful real-life presentations that pinpoint critical federal and state tax areas, teaching tax professionals what they need to know to optimally assist their clients—crucial in today’s changing environment.