Getting to Know Alan Sobel
The New Jersey Society of CPAs welcomes Alan D. Sobel, CPA, CGMA, managing member of the firm at SobelCo, LLC, as the 2020/21 president beginning June 1, replacing outgoing president Kyle Sell, CPA, MBA, audit partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP.
Most members of the NJCPA know Alan Sobel as a hard-working advocate for small and midsize businesses in New Jersey who led the charge for the passage of the Pass-Through Business Alternative Income Tax Act, which allows pass-through businesses to pay New Jersey income taxes at the entity level instead of at the personal level. With his passion to assist businesses taxed as flow through entities in the wake of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and its state and local tax deduction cap, Alan worked tirelessly with New Jersey legislature and the NJCPA to inform Governor Murphy’s office about the importance of the bill to business owners. This initiative is poised to collectively save New Jersey business owners between $200 and $400 million annually. Governor Murphy signed the bill into law on Jan. 13 and it is effective starting with the 2020 tax year.
But there’s another side to Alan. Like most CPAs, he carries a strong service mentality to help others in the accounting profession — those needing encouragement to become CPAs and those current CPAs needing inspiration. “Accountants tend to be doers,” he explains, noting that in his role as the NJCPA president he sees it as a priority to inspire members to “bring forth their collective know how for the betterment of our economy. We need to inspire people within our profession.”
Whether CPAs are in public practice and deal with external clients, or are in industry, nonprofit, government or academia, the goals of the CPA are very much the same, he adds. “We should be positioned as trusted and reliable advisors. People talk about my passion for helping businesses, but it is the passion of all CPAs to help businesses, nonprofits or individuals. Most successful CPAs are not selfish people; they believe their well-being is best served when they are serving others. It’s a service mentality.”
Improving networking, he says, is one way to move the needle forward engaging accountants and helping them to be that trusted advisor. Networking, he adds, is crucial for growing businesses and advancing careers, as well as the profession itself. “The usefulness of networking has never gone away; people who don’t see the value in it are not necessarily doing it effectively.” However, what used to work 15 years ago clearly is not working today, he says. “We have to find other ways to engage CPAs. I don’t care where they work. Their values and integrity are the same and they have the same commitment to lifelong learning.”
Adapting to new technological advancements can also help keep CPAs inspired. The more the profession embraces new uses of technology, the more opportunities exist for participants already in the field and those who may want to enter it. But he notes that technology can’t replace the human element that’s still needed to get, and keep, people engaged.
So, what can CPAs do to get more engaged? “They can speak up,” he says. “CPAs are incredibly smart people. They have the insight and intellect for problem solving. There are tremendous amounts of good ideas trapped inside CPAs as they go about their day-to-day work,” he explains. “If you have a good idea and don’t speak up about it, then it’s just an idea. Change can happen. New Jersey can benefit greatly by the collective wisdom, ideas and intellect of our CPA community.”
Similar to Alan’s quest in moving the pass-through entity legislation forward, he recommends others follow his efforts and voice their opinions. “I would encourage everyone to provide their input. NJCPA has the resources to help. Everybody can make a difference, even at a small level, in the way our state succeeds,” he explains.
This article appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.