Partner

David Heilich, CPA, AEP®

Tax
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Bio

Meet David

David is a partner in Armanino’s Tax practice who provides trust and estate services and tax planning services. With more than 25 years of experience, David serves individuals, families, closely held businesses and executives, providing comprehensive tax and wealth management services. His expertise includes estate planning; family business consulting; business succession planning; advanced planning; income tax compliance and consulting; and estate, gift and trust compliance. David's experience in individual, partnership, estate, gift and trust income tax-related issues benefits a wide range of clients.

Prior to joining Armanino, David was a partner at Brown Smith Wallace LLP, where he led the Family Wealth Planning and Family Office Support Services practices. He began his career working with wealthy individuals and closely held business owners, in addition to providing estate, gift and trust work for a local corporate trustee, Mark Twain Bank. He has experience delivering services to a prominent St. Louis family office.

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Experience

Professional History

Associations

  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants (MOCPA)

Community

  • Board of the Estate Planning Council of St. Louis
  • American Red Cross Planned Giving Advisory Council, Member
  • St. Louis County Library Foundation Professional Advisors Group, Member

Education

  • Saint Louis University

Experience

  • Brown Smith Wallace LLP

Q&A

Q. What is it about accounting and consulting that first drew your interest?

My mother always told me I was good at math, so I started in the public accounting profession because of the numbers. However, it has since become so much more than that.

At my first job, we did a lot of work for Mark Twain Bank Trust company in St. Louis, Missouri, which is how I got my foundation in estates, gifts and trusts. I was really drawn to that work because it was the most practical way that I could help people. Everybody needs an estate plan, and everybody needs to know how to title their assets and determine who to leave them to. It would be a unique and individualized way that I could add value to people’s lives, and it’s also proven to be a forever challenging and rewarding part of accounting and consulting.

Q. Make a prediction; describe your vision of the future of the general business environment for your area of expertise or the industries you serve.
The nature of tax law is constant change, but we instill in our team to take advantage of those changes and make them work to benefit our clients. Tax laws are always going to be shifting and evolving, and as a result it’s important to put together plans that are flexible. For example, for the first time in history, the lifetime exemption is likely to be retracted. That’s something that has never happened before. As such, it’s important for people in my role to be ahead of changes whenever we can. I tell my team to always prepare for more work in the future than we have today because tax laws are only going to get more complex, but hopefully those complexities will allow us to continue to find new ways to better serve our clients.
Q. What law or regulation in the accounting industry would you like to see changed?
It was always interesting to me that, from a capital gains standpoint, you were never able to carry back your capital losses. So, when you think of the technology bubble, there were huge capital gains and then massive losses, and those losses carried forward. If you don’t use them before your death, they just go away and never get utilized. I would like to see some type of carry-back of capital losses regime would bring more economic balance to that part of the tax law.
Q. Without naming names, tell us about your favorite client and why you enjoyed working with them.

I have had a lot of rewarding client experiences and am grateful to have many favorite clients. My favorite client experiences have been ones where we were able to improve family relationships that had been fractured by wealth challenges. We helped our clients learn how to better communicate with their family members and be more transparent about their estate planning decisions.

Making a difference in our clients’ lives on such a personal level is such a gratifying experience and makes me proud to be their trusted advisor.

Q. Please tell us one fun fact about yourself.
I am the oldest grandchild on both sides of my family. I am fortunate enough to have memories of all my grandparents and six out of eight great-grandparents. Family is so important to me, and so few people get the opportunity to meet so many of their grandparents, so I really treasure the time I was able to spend with the Greatest Generation.
Q. Describe your work style.
I challenge people to be their best and do things they think they can’t do. So many new accountants are just focused on the technical side of the profession, but I want to make sure the people on my team learn a lot and know that it’s not only important to be a good accountant, but it’s also important to become a client’s trusted advisor. It takes time and tenacity to nurture that relationship, and I act as a resource to make sure my team learns the nuances of both the accounting industry and managing relationships.
Q. Who is (or was) the most influential person in your life

My grandparents. They made sacrifices that we truly can’t understand; it was just a totally different time. My paternal grandfather was in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and on June 20, 1944, his plane collided with another U.S. plane. Everybody in the unit died except for my grandfather. He was rescued by some Danish fishermen and was captured by the Germans, who made him dig a grave, which he thought was for himself but was for one of the men in his unit. My grandfather spent over a year in a German prison camp. Upon his release, he spoke with the pilot of the other plane in Nuremberg.  Despite going through such a harrowing experience, when he returned to the U.S., he became a committed father to eight children, and, along with my grandmother, taught his children to work hard and to do what is right.

My grandparents instilled in me the value of working hard and respecting others, and their influence molded me into the person I am today.

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David's Thought Leadership
Blog articles
Article
Take these points into consideration before making a final decision on whether to accept or refuse a bequest.

August 19, 2020