More than just taxes: Redlands Career Spotlight interviews accountant about career, misconceptions


Redlands Career Spotlight is a series where ETHIC News interviews a new Redlands professional every week about their job, education, daily life, and more in order to educate readers about potential careers students can pursue after high school. In the first installment, ETHIC interviewed accountant, University of Southern California alumni and Los Angeles Kings fan David Raff. 

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David Raff, certified public accountant (CPA)

Q: What is your profession, and how long have you been working?

A: I am a certified public accountant. I began my career in 1982 with a firm known at the time as Arthur Young & Company. That firm merged with Ernst & Whinney in 1989 to create the firm now known as Ernst & Young. In October 1990 my wife Cindy and I formed our current CPA firm David Raff & Company. In addition to my work as a CPA I have taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Redlands School of Business since 2013.

Q: Where did you get your education? Did you enjoy your time in college?

A: I obtained my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from the University of Southern California (USC) in 1982. I also graduated with a Master of Business Taxation degree from USC in 1989.

I had a great time at USC. I made some great friends during my time as an undergraduate and have maintained many of those relationships over the years.

I completed my Masters program at night while working during the day. The schedule was challenging but the additional education has helped me in my career.

Q: Was becoming an Accountant something you always wanted to do?

A: I had other interests early up through my early years in high school including pharmacy and stock investing. I chose accounting as a career path in my junior year in high school.

Q: What is the hardest part of your job?

A: The most challenging part of my job is anticipating and exceeding the expectations of our clients. We can do great work and tell a client they have a $5,000 tax refund but if they were expecting a refund of $10,000 then we have not anticipated their expectations well.

We work very hard to do planning throughout the year with clients so we can best manage and exceed those expectations.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

A: I enjoy the working with our wonderful staff at our company. We spend a lot of time together (especially during tax season) and we truly feel like a family.

As for the work itself, I get the most enjoyment from helping remove worry and uncertainty from a client about their finances. Tax and accounting can be confusing and frustrating. We do a great job providing them with a clear picture on their tax obligation or personal or business financial health.

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about your line of work/education?

A: One misconception is that the work of an accountant is boring. Each client is unique and exceeding their expectations is a challenge I look forward to every day.

Another misconception is the work focuses on math skills. Although we obviously deal with numbers on tax forms and financial statements the process is more closely associated with legal research. It is our job to interpret tax law and accounting rules which is more the focus of my work than the numbers themselves.

Q: Do you have any advice for high school students?

A: I suggest that you always assume that what you post in social media or how you act in public is being recorded and set a gold standard for yourself for those behaviors.

Always be respectful to all those around you because you never know when you may have an opportunity created by your positive actions or an opportunity lost due to your poor attitude or behavior.

Q: What is your favorite location in Redlands?

A: We so appreciate the City of Redlands as we have grown our business here. I would have trouble narrowing down to a favorite location in Redlands.

Trinity Episcopal Church is our church services and we enjoy the fellowship and friendships through our faith community. Over the years we have attended Redlands Bowl concerts and supported the Bowl through board participation. We’ve attended many REV Football games as our son Adam played offensive lineman at the school. Our office staff and family participated this past weekend in the Believe Walk which was an amazing event.

We enjoy lunches and dinners at many local restaurants.

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