Meet Managing Shareholder Tom Princewphungerford
How many tax seasons have you worked?
This will be my 35th tax season; the only job I’ve had since graduating from Calvin University.
What industries do you specifically work with and what are your areas of specialty?
Manufacturing, Construction, and Distribution.
Where did you go to college?
Calvin College (now University), 1987 – Bachelor of Science in Accountancy
Grand Valley State University (GVSU), 1994 – MBA
Did you have other career aspirations other than what you’re doing now?
I started as Pre-Med at Calvin. I didn’t really enjoy the classes. We were encouraged to take classes outside of our major for Interim and I took “Accounting for the Non-Business Major” and then I switched my major to Accounting.
When did you know you wanted to be an accountant?
After switching my major, I met with my new academic advisor, who was a CPA. I quickly decided that’s what I wanted to do for a living.
What was your first day at Hungerford like?
That was too long ago to remember the specifics, but I do know that most of the training was “on the job, as you go!” As a new project came in, whoever needed you to do it sat down with you and showed you how they wanted it done and often it was done the
“same as last year.”
How has your career evolved since your first day?
I knew I wanted to be a partner someday, so I asked to get involved in management opportunities whenever possible. This evolved into my taking an active role in the Human Resources (HR) areas of the firm. I was involved in developing many of the HR policies and programs we have today.
What is your leadership style as a Managing Shareholder?
I am a consensus builder. It’s not possible to please everyone and get everyone to agree, but I think by doing the proper research (by reading and/or asking questions and actively listening) I can arrive at the best decisions for the firm.
What do you like about working at HN?
For me, the people I work with has always been more important than what I’m doing each day. I enjoy coming to work because of the people I get to work with.
What were some of the toughest aspects of your job/career?
It’s never fun to let someone go. That’s what I hate the most.
What are some achievements of which you are most proud?
I passed all four parts of the CPA exam on the first try. Back in 1997 when I took the exam, you took all four parts over a three day-period, and I only had to do that once. I’m also proud that several of our current shareholders on my team are people I recruited as either interns or brought in as staff, and then helped them grow in their careers. Additionally, I’m proud that my fellow shareholders have the trust and confidence in me and respect me enough to have elected me as Managing Shareholder.
Are there any organizations you volunteer with or serve on a board that you want to highlight?
I’m currently on the board for ICCF (Inner City Christian Federation). While the growth of Grand Rapids has been great for businesses such as ours, it has resulted in a shortage of affordable housing, so I’m glad to partner with ICCF to help with this problem.
I was on the Board of Trustees of Grand Rapids Christian Schools (GRCS). I am a product of GRCS and sent all three of my daughters through the system, so I felt it was important to be involved.
For anyone looking for a way to get involve in the community, I spent many years coaching my girls’ youth softball and soccer teams. It was a great way to spend time with them, make connections and give back to the community. A win/win/win.
What made you want to be a shareholder?
I wanted to own my own business. But I decided I wanted to stay in public accounting. I liked the variety of the work.
What do you see for the future of your industry and the firm?
The future of both the industry and our firm is diversification. We can’t just rely on traditional tax and audit services. They remain important, but advisory, including technology and wealth management, are the direction for the future.
Who are some people that influenced you and your career?
I learned a lot working closely with Dan Carter and Jerry Nichols.
What does the DEI initiative mean to you and what is the importance to the firm/field/community?
First, there is an abundance of research that proves that the most successful organizations have embraced diversity in the workplace, and people that live in diverse communities are happier and the community thrives. But I think the acronym should be reversed. I think it is important to first create an inclusive environment, thereby making sure that everyone will be treated equitably, and that will lead to your ability to not only attract but also retain a diverse workforce.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Worry less about things that really don’t matter and have more patience in changing things that do.
Any inspirational quotes you would like included?
My favorite Bible verse is Micah 6:8 – What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.
“Management is about today. Leadership is about tomorrow.”
“A clear conscience makes a soft pillow.”
“Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due.”