A Passion for Education Proves Perfect Formula for Ross Riskin, CPA/PFS
Meet Ross Riskin, CPA/PFS, CCPS, vice president of Riskin & Riskin, PC in Orange, Conn. Ross is definitely not your typical CPA; he has a unique passion for helping college students and their families, a direct hand in CPA education and a thoughtful take on incorporating the AICPA’s Essentials of Financial Planning curriculum into the classroom.
AICPA: You’re founder and managing member of Riskin Advisory, LLC, described on your website as “a college financial planning practice.” How are you helping students and their parents plan for college expenses?
Ross Riskin: I work with families and recent graduates to help them develop plans to save and pay for higher education expenses in the most financially efficient manner. I approach the college and education planning process from tax, financial aid, and cash flow planning perspectives. Whether a family is trying to navigate the complex financial aid process, a grandparent is trying to develop a funding plan for their grandchild, or a recent graduate is trying to come up with a game plan to tackle their student loan debt, I am happy to advise them about the best course of action.
AICPA: How does being a CPA and a PFS support your expertise in education planning?
RR: Being a practicing CPA has provided me with the educational and professional experience required to enhance my knowledge of tax planning. Obtaining the PFS credential has helped me approach college and education planning from the perspective of an accountant and an adviser in order to develop comprehensive solutions for clients to help them see the big “financial” picture. Education planning is an area that hasn’t really been a focal point of planning to the same degree that tax planning and investment planning have been, and I am dedicated to working each day as a CPA/PFS to shift that focus and help families plan and take action in a holistic way.
AICPA: You’re an assistant professor of Accounting and Finance and the director of Finance Programs at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Conn. What inspired you to become a college professor?
RR: My passion for learning and the positive experiences I had with my own professors in my undergraduate and graduate studies inspired me to get involved in academia. Teaching others is truly one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had in my life and career, and I believe that preparing to teach others is the greatest learning experiences of all. I highly recommend other CPAs and advisers get involved in academia; it is rewarding on personal and professional levels.
AICPA: One of the AICPA’s initiatives is to encourage college students in accounting to consider a career in financial planning. How are you planning to incorporate the AICPA’s Essentials of Financial Planning into your lesson plans, and how do you think it will help your students?
RR: Albertus Magnus College is the first college in the country to incorporate the AICPA’s Essentials in Financial Planning course into its Master of Science in Accounting curriculum. I also helped create the Personal Financial Planning concentration within our master’s program to further encourage students to learn about financial planning, and to hit the ground running once they earn their graduate degree and pass the CPA and Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) exams.
AICPA: What is your career advice to college accounting students?
RR: First, don’t just think outside the box; be prepared to move outside the box. Many college accounting students are pressured into believing their careers need to begin at one of the Big 4 accounting firms, or that they have to stay in audit or tax. I am a Big 4 veteran myself, but my desire to run my own firm, teach and get involved in financial planning guided me in another direction on my own path to success.
Second, always stay straight on your journey, but don’t believe for a second that it is going to stay straight for you. Everyone’s career is like a mountain range with a series of peaks and valleys that requires persistence and integrity to move ahead when things are going well and more so when things are not. If you can go above and beyond what is expected of you at all times without sacrificing your integrity, success will surely follow.
Sarah Bradley, CPA, Senior Technical Manager, Personal Financial Planning-American Institute of CPAs.