40 Under Forty: Patti Stanfill, CPA, owner, Ortt & Co. CPAs

2014-02-02T00:15:00Z 2014-02-10T16:40:16Z 40 Under Forty: Patti Stanfill, CPA, owner, Ortt & Co. CPAs The Billings Gazette
February 02, 2014 12:15 am

Lots of kids go through high school with no goals, no ambitions, no plans. Not Patti Stanfill. She saw her future career come into focus at about the time she was old enough to drive.

“I took my first accounting class when I was a sophomore,” Stanfill said. “We had to do a business from start to end, and all of the stuff in between. I fell in love with it. I just liked the whole process, seeing it all come together. Something just clicked.”

Stanfill kept her focus throughout college and during lengthy study sessions as she prepared for the CPA exam.

“Oh, yes. It was a lot of work. I read lots of books and did a lot of test questions, over and over,” Stanfill said, describing her preparation for the CPA exam.

The long hours of study paid off for Stanfill, who has been with Ortt & Co. CPAs Inc. for 16 years. That includes eight years as an employee, four as a partner and four years as sole owner of the business.

QuickBooks, the popular accounting software, has been touted as a savior for businesses. But Stanfill advises caution.

“QuickBooks actually makes our job harder,” Stanfill said. “They advertise that with QuickBooks, you don’t need an accounting background to use it. But unless you have somebody with an accounting background to set it up, it can be a real nightmare. We spend a lot of our time fixing it and making it work.”

Tax time is the busy season in the accounting profession. Just keeping up on new IRS regulations can be time-consuming.

Stanfill also has some advice for people who are asking for help filing their taxes. Having adequate, well-organized records saves time and money.

“We also advise our clients to write out their questions for things they’re interested in or have heard about,” she said. “We do a lot of tax planning ,and we want to know when people are changing jobs, getting married or having kids. Every life event affects your tax return, and we try to find out as much as we can.”

Describe how you got where you are in your work today: Lots of support from my husband and kids, hard work, long hours and determination.

What’s the toughest challenge that you have faced in your business? Balancing home and work, and trying to leave work at work.

What did you learn from that challenge? That my husband and kids are awesome and supportive.

What’s the best business advice you have received? Be honest, and you can never know it all. But, you can surround yourself with several people who have knowledge in the areas you are lacking.

Who gave you that advice? Bryant Ortt.

Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Improve/build more parks, improve/expand on recycling with easy options.

Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Thanks from clients. They often send notes or call up thanking us. It’s nice to hear from employees being happy with their positions and excited to come to work.

Which living person do you most admire? My dad.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Owning my own business and three terrific kiddos.

I’m happiest when I’m… playing/relaxing with my family.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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