Staff Discuss “The Naden/Lean Difference”

This tax season, several staff members provided insight into what makes Naden/Lean a great workplace and how the firm provides exceptional value to clients. Read on for their perspectives on “the Naden/Lean Difference.” Bookmark this page to read new interviews as they’re added.

Janet Higgins

Teresa Sowder

Bruce Caulk

Stephen Kadin

Vera Roslyakova

Laura Kordek

Q&A With: Janet Higgins, Accountant

The Naden/Lean Difference:

Our approach to tax planning can be broken down into one question: “Where are you in your life right now?” The answers to this question, [whether it’s a new job, moving, new business, new baby,] gives us a big-picture view of their life based on their tax return.



What is your role in the tax planning process?
 I support the client organization: looking at prior year tax returns, especially for new clients, check for accuracy and possible missed deductions.

What are the most missed tax deductions?
Major medical expenses and moving expenses. When you moved, did you donate anything, and did you keep track of it?

When do individuals typically owe money?
Two situations to be careful of: either they made more money than the year before or they didn’t have enough withheld.

How do you manage your time during tax season?
Maximum efficiency. I take a project-based approach to breaking down work. I ask myself “what is on my daily list and how can I get this done in the most efficient way possible?”

How would you describe tax season?
Tax season is like putting together a puzzle. With each project or client, you have lots of tiny pieces and when you’re done, you can see the bigger picture.

What do you look forward to each tax season?
This is my 25th tax season, and the fifth or sixth at Naden/Lean. I enjoy the continuity of clients.

Learn more about Janet’s role and contributions here.

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Q&A With: Teresa Sowder, Accountant

The Naden/Lean Difference:

Tax season isn’t considered fun for most people. I make a “not so fun” task a little more bearable.



What is your favorite part of your job?
 Definitely the client interaction and getting to know them, which also enables me to more effectively service their needs.

If clients could describe what it’s like to work with you in a word or phrase, what would it be?
Easy to work with.

Why do you enjoy working at Naden/Lean?
It’s a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Yes, accountants like to have fun, too!

Learn more about Teresa’s role and contributions here.

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Q&A With: Bruce Caulk, CPA

Commercial Partner

The Naden/Lean Difference:

We strive to enable our clients to reach their best definition of success in all aspects of their lives.



What is your approach to tax planning?

At Naden/Lean, we ask clients to close out 8 to 9 months of activity. They have an easier time projecting year-end with only one quarter remaining, and our full tax projection will be ideally within a small margin of the actual return. We run several scenarios, project business income and all available deductions, evaluate retirement scenarios and other tax saving strategies, and build in the individual component. It is a “give and take” with the client, and at the end of planning the client is well-educated in regard to their tax position and strategies necessary to achieve the intended results.

We offer professional relationship services, not mechanical transaction services. With planning, the client knows what their tax return will look like months in advance, but we want to make sure that clients actually understand the return. To do this effectively, we need to understand the client. Proactive communication from both parties accomplishes that. The biggest value in any professional relationship is education, for both of us.

We are not the only professional advisor that may benefit our client, so we also pull in other resources, in the legal, investment advisory, and other professions to best serve our clients.

What’s the biggest tax planning secret?
You always want to pay taxes … at the most reasonable rate possible. If you’re not paying taxes, you’re not making money, and that means we need to have a serious discussion on how to change that!

Why do clients love you?
I’m genuine, straightforward, and stay in touch. I’m a constant resource and clients know well that they can reach me via text, phone call, e-mail, or even to stop in.

Describe the most interesting recent client.

I advised a non-Maryland resident who was selling his local business and attached real estate. We reached out to one of our professional resources to develop the best creative solution for the client. We did this proactively, before the client even knew he needed a solution to a large tax bill.

Why do you enjoy working at Naden/Lean? 

Naden/Lean fosters a professional, comfortable atmosphere with close-knit employees and clients. It’s why many clients have been with us for 20-plus years. We have a service-first principle that matches the market. Communication and dialogue are our keys to success.

Learn more about Bruce’s role and contributions here.

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Q&A With: Stephen Kadin, CPA


The Naden/Lean Difference:

Educating and presenting clients with opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise known about.



What is your approach to tax planning?

The first step is learning the client’s core business and business model before looking at how they’ll be affected by taxes. A better understanding of their day-to-day processes lets us provide better value.

How do you ensure clients get the best refund?
Consistent communication throughout the year. We ask appropriate questions to generate responses that lead to additional deductions or better projections. You have to ask the right questions and maintain consistent, direct conversation.

How do you help clients if they owe money?
We have two ways to help. One is to develop a payment plan with the IRS that can extend over 3 or 5 years and spread the cash flow out. The second way is to help them better prepare before year-end through quarterly accounting work and tax projections.

What is your favorite part of the job?

When I can educate and present clients with opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Whether it’s tax projections, cash flow, or growth strategies, new clients especially are surprised when they learn they can lower their tax liability and grow their business.

What are some of the most interesting tax returns?

To me, start-up businesses are very interesting. I get the opportunity to see the business at the ground level, you’re seeing the tax return from Day One.

Learn more about Stephen’s role and contributions here.

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Q&A With: Vera Roslyakova


The Naden/Lean Difference:

Tax planning is the art of implementing strategies to help clients reach their goals, and planning to reduce taxes is a critically important piece of the process.



What is the benefit of tax planning?

Financial and/or tax planning is the art of implementing strategies that help tax professionals to reach clients financial goals. You can get as close as possible to the actual tax liability, so there are no big surprises at the time of filing. As we all know taxes are probably the biggest expense over the long haul for successful businesses, therefore  planning to reduce taxes is critically important piece of the process. By October or November, you should have a good estimate of your tax position for the year. That’s the goal.

How do you ensure clients get the best refund?
The cure is to plan overall transactions with taxes/strategies in mind and avoid making impulsive moves. We send clients estimated tax vouchers, so they know how much to pay throughout the year. With new clients, we have a different approach. We ask lots of questions to get the most amount of information. Without it, it’s harder to plan.

What is your favorite part of the job?

I like everything! I like interacting with clients, being on-site, and communicating with them. I enjoy the social part of client service.

Why do clients love working with you? 

I’m always kind and I try to be as specific as possible. I provide clear instructions and try to read their mind before I talk to them, so I can anticipate their needs. I try to give examples of my questions for new clients, like here is the form you need. The more information and clearer instructions I provide, the easier the process is for everyone.

What is the most interesting tax return you worked on recently?

I worked on a corporate tax return recently where a grocery store owner sold his business. There was special treatment for the tax transaction, we did our research to find the best approach, and it was a great learning experience.

What do you enjoy most about working at Naden/Lean? 

Personal satisfaction is very important to me. The partners notice when you do a good job, and the people are great.

Learn more about Vera’s role and contributions here.

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Q&A With: Laura Kordek

Accountant, Dental CPAs

Laura Kordek

The Naden/Lean Difference:

Naden/Lean has a great team of employees that work together to get the job done.



What is your approach to tax planning?

My approach is to learn as much as I can about the client and their lifestyle. I have conversations throughout the year with them about events that have changed or will change their tax situation. A change in job, purchase of a home, marriage, or birth of a child are just a few events that can change a client’s tax picture.

How do you ensure clients get the best refund?
I have regular conversations and tax planning prior to year-end so there are no surprises.

How do you help clients when they owe money?

I help the clients set up payment plans with the government, and I can also set up estimated tax payments to avoid large payments due at filing time.

What is your favorite part about the job?

I really enjoy working with clients and getting to know them.

Why do your clients love working with you?

I’m friendly and easy to work with.


Learn more about Laura’s role and contributions here.

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