Karen Stern, CPA

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Meet Karen

Karen has more than three decades of experience in public accounting and takes pride in working closely with her clients, providing tax consulting and accounting services in various industries, including manufacturing, service, distribution, retail, restaurants, insurance, construction, franchisors/franchisees and health care.

Prior to joining Armanino, Karen was a partner and served as the practice leader for Brown Smith Wallace’s Entrepreneurial Services group. Karen began career at Brown Smith Wallace, where she helped her clients ensure their small businesses ran smoothly. She focused on offering outsourced accounting services, including check writing, cash management and budgeting, among others.

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Professional History


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


  • University of Illinois


  • Brown Smith Wallace LLP


Q. Without naming names, tell us about your favorite client and why you enjoyed working with them.
There was a startup that I worked hand-in-hand with, as the company was extremely small. Throughout the years, they grew and became a franchise and ultimately sold to private equity. We were there from the beginning and saw everything that went into the business, every sacrifice to achieve this ultimate goal. To be a part of my client’s journey and see them sell for millions of dollars was extremely gratifying. You celebrate their victories with them.
Q. Describe your work style.
I am team-focused and listen to input from others. I’m not afraid to make a mistake, because that is the only way you learn. You have to pick yourself up and stay the course.
Q. What’s your proudest moment?
Professionally, becoming a member of the executive committee and Best Women in Business with the St. Louis Business Journal. I’ve been an integral part of our women’s initiative, The Bridge, where we encourage women of all career stages to come together, network and learn from one another. To be able to mentor the future women leaders of this firm has been a highlight of my career.
Q. Who is (or was) the most influential person in your life
My parents. They are truly salt of the earth people. I learned the value of hard work and family, and that you don’t have to choose between the two.
Q. If you could pass on a nugget of wisdom to aspiring accountants or consultants, what would that be?
Have fun. Find something you love to do and understand that the decisions you make today aren’t always permanent. There are multiple paths to achieve your end goal.
Q. What do you love most about your work?
Public accounting is always changing and challenging you to think differently. You are constantly learning new ways to overcome obstacles. Being able to collaborate with others while learning new things makes the work meaningful and enjoyable.
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