Partner

Susan Van, CPA, MST

Business Management

Find the niche that you want to pursue and learn how to make yourself stand out.

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Bio

Meet Susan

Susan has more than 20 years of experience in accounting, with more than a decade working with clients in business management services. She specializes in the taxation of individuals and entities in the entertainment industry.

Throughout her business management career, Susan has worked on the tax returns of Hollywood legends, with a client base including writers, producers, directors, actors, studio executives, talent agents and managers, musicians, rock bands, international DJs, professional athletes, professional gamers and high net worth individuals and families.

Susan began her public accounting career in 2002, performing audits of nonprofit organizations and preparing their respective informational tax returns. Six years into her public accounting career in the United States, she accepted an opportunity to work as a GAAP expert in Shanghai, China, for a prominent European public accounting firm with a significant international presence. After working in Shanghai, Susan returned to Los Angeles to work in business management.

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Experience

Professional History

Associations

  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • California Society of Certified Public Accountants (CalCPA)

Community

  • The Bridge, Board Member

Education

  • Golden Gate University
  • University of California, Los Angeles

Experience

  • RBZ
  • Mazar

Q&A

Q. What was it that drew you to Armanino?

The culture. Armanino encourages community involvement through the Armanino Foundation, and I valued the firm’s commitment to being a responsible company and community partner. I was also excited to learn about The Bridge, which encourages women to build relationships and achieve the highest levels of their career goals. I became a board member of The Bridge and have embraced the chance to connect with people and engage with the community beyond my daily job description.

Q. What is the toughest decision you have ever made?

Whether to pursue becoming partner. I have two young daughters, and I struggled with the prospect of balancing my career and being a mom at the same time. I initially considered becoming a stay-at-home mom or letting my career take a backseat until my daughters were older, but I knew it would benefit our family in the long run if I stuck with my career goals. Though pursuing partnership and balancing that journey with motherhood was certainly a lot of hard work, I quickly learned how to work smarter. I realized that the road to partner wasn’t just about clocking hours. It taught me to brand myself both internally and externally and helped me realize the value in advocating for myself.

Q. Without naming names, tell us about your favorite client and why you enjoyed working with them.

An entertainment client came to me when she was relatively unknown in the industry. She was very low-key, had a modest income and needed some help organizing her finances. Throughout the years, she has climbed her way up the entertainment ladder to achieve a seven-figure salary and an Emmy nomination. Watching her career flourish and learning how to shift my business practices to best serve her evolving needs has been such a rewarding experience, and I’m so glad I was able to help her in some small capacity on her career journey.

Q. Describe your work style.

I’m very flexible; I am quick to adapt to the situation and figure out how to make it work for my client’s needs as best as I can. No matter the problem at hand, I work closely with my clients to find a solution that works best for everyone and produces the best outcome available.

Q. Who is (or was) the most influential person in your life?

Ken Coelho, who leads Armanino’s Business Management practice, has been instrumental in my career. When I was working in my previous job, I saw his strong leadership and knew I wanted to join his group. He gives his employees the freedom to think and empowers us to bring different ideas and perspectives to the challenges we face.

Q. If you could pass on a nugget of wisdom to aspiring accountants or consultants, what would that be?

Think about your brand from the start. Find the niche that you want to pursue and learn how to make yourself stand out in that particular area. Branding yourself in a specific industry or expertise that you’re also passionate about gives you a leg up on your competition and ensures that you’re crafting a career path that is meaningful to you.

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