B+Co Partner Coben Tistadt is a life-long learner both professionally and in his personal life. He understands the importance of developing his team, providing thoughtful consultation, and providing advisory services with human intelligence and care. He is dedicated to building strong relationships with his clients and their teams to help them succeed. He knows it is important to always remain personable and compassionate and to connect with our clients so they know we understand their needs and empathize with their concerns. Coben is a partner in our Pleasanton office and he has shared with us his journey on the path to partner.
Tell us your story and how you decided on a career in accounting.
I graduated college back in 1994 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies. Not the most practical of degrees. I recall a former president’s advice at the time was to pick up the local classified section in the paper, see what skills were in demand, and get some training in those areas. I did as he suggested and noticed A LOT of openings for accountants or CPA’s. Some things never change! Thereafter I got enough post-bachelor credits in accounting and general business as quickly as possible to sit for the CPA exam.
How did education play a role in your career success?
I joke about a degree in religious studies, but the skills I learned in liberal arts, like critical reading and writing can help one succeed regardless of profession. With B+Co, I pursued a Master’s Degree in Taxation from Golden Gate University, one of the top programs in the country, which gave me a firm foundation in tax law. This has given me the confidence to tackle even the most difficult tax questions.
Was becoming a partner always a goal for you? Did you have a strategy for becoming a partner? If yes, what was it?
Yes, making partner was the goal early in my career. The goal was put on pause, however, when I got married and moved to the Bay Area. My strategy to make partner was first, to show up on time, second, to produce high-level work, and third, to keep learning.
When you first became a partner, what was your main focus? And now, years later, how has your focus shifted?
Early on, after making partner, my focus was transitioning clients from prior partners and earning their trust. Now, four years later, my focus has turned to developing our team (including the “team” members on the client side).
What advice would you give others who are entering the field intending to be a partner one day?
I recommend being a life-long learner and prioritizing the CPA exam. Although biased, I’d also recommend starting with a more regional firm to get a wide breadth of experience early on before having to specialize or choosing to be a generalist.
Are there leaders in the industry or leadership traits that you admire? Who or what are they?
I admire my peers in a number of different roles: those who have taken a leadership role with firms and are also innovative in the industry, those who are passionate about understanding the law and accounting standards and teaching others, and those who are tireless advocates or trusted advisors for their clients. I admire those that can do it all!
What is your leadership style, and how have your influences helped shape your style?
I try to lead by example in a spirit of positivity and service. I believe the best leaders are those who serve. Accordingly, I try to lead with a spirit of service.
What are some of your bigger challenges in your position and how do you meet them?
One of my biggest challenges is not wasting time on distractions, especially in this day and age, when distractions seem to call louder and more persistently all the time.
There are some truly busy work months in accounting. What is it that drives or motivates you during these challenging times and how do you motivate and support your team?
I am thankful to have the skills necessary to support my family and the other causes I care about. During busier times it becomes more important to remember this, and to remember all those that want to be gainfully employed but don’t have the opportunity. It is important to stay positive and thankful for our team.
What brings you the most satisfaction when working with your clients?
I enjoy immensely the feeling of being a part of a team and something larger than myself. Public accounting is instrumental to the workings of our communities as a whole, and I enjoy fulfilling the critically important role it plays for our clients.
What do you think is the next evolution in Public Accounting? How do you prepare for it?
It seems that intangibles like good stewardship of the planet and taking good care of each other are becoming more valued. I’d like to think the future in public accounting is working towards the common good of all, regardless of one’s race, country of origin, economic status, etc.
Let’s get a little personal. What are some things you enjoy outside of work that bring your life balance?
For me, I love religious studies which I feel bring me closer to the divine. I get great peace and joy in studying the Quran and the Bible. I’m about 1/3 through memorizing the Quran the first time through (believe me it’ll take many more repetitions). I also enjoy exercise as a celebration of life and as a form of thanksgiving.
What is life like at Bregante + Company LLP? What do you enjoy most about the firm?
Life at B+Co is full of challenges and opportunities to grow without having to sacrifice the rest of what gives life meaning, whether that is a passionate hobby, family, religion, or other. B+Co provides a nurturing environment to grow both in the profession and outside of work as well.
How do you find purpose in your work?
I find purpose in serving clients, our colleagues, and by extension, our community at large. I believe the greatest of us is the one who is of the greatest service.
What has been the proudest moment on your path to Partner?
The proudest moment on my path to Partner was probably early on when I discovered significant tax savings for a client. It is always a great thrill to discover tax savings that make a difference.
Anything else you would like to share?
My wife is Senegalese and so our family seems to keep one foot in both Senegalese and American culture! Senegalese culture is so different from an American culture that I wish more could experience it to give them a fresh look at their own culture. One day, I hope to have a large enough home in Senegal to be able to host those who want to visit.