The Journey Back from Stroke with Rich Kane
Episode 132 of The Unique CPA features an inspiring conversation with Rich Kane about his experience surviving a stroke at a young age. Rich talks to Randy about his harrowing stroke story and recovery journey, including the lingering effects it’s had on his daily life and career. Both of them discuss the emotional impact the stroke has had on their lives. For accounting professionals, this episode highlights the real-life challenges stroke survivors face and promotes greater awareness of risk factors, with Randy and Rich discussing how to identify stroke symptoms through the BE FAST acronym. Overall, it’s an insightful look at overcoming adversity through the lens of two stroke survivor CPAs.
Today, our guest is Rich Kane. Rich is a CPA. He’s actually Director of Business Services for a firm in the Chicago suburbs, and he is a QuickBooks guru. I think he’s been a QuickBooks Pro advisor for 25, 26 years now, top 100 for at least six years on the QuickBooks Pro advisor side. Rich and I have a few things in common: We are both CPAs, we are both in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and we are both stroke survivors, which is going to be a theme of our discussion today. But before we get into that, Rich, welcome to The Unique CPA.
Well, Randy, I wish we could be talking about a different subject today. But it’s kind of important. But yeah, you’re part of a club that I guess not many people really want to join. But there are people out there that unfortunately do suffer a stroke. And there are a lot of survivors out there.
Yep. Which is good that we have survivors. I know, you probably have heard this before, but you know, if people say, well, he’s a stroke victim. I go no, no, we’re survivors. We’re not victims. We did, we got through this. So before we get into the stroke talk, though, I gave you a quick intro, anything you want expand there? I know the QuickBooks side of things, I think is pretty impactful and important to you. But other things, anything else you want to highlight there?
Oh, I love the networking. I love meeting people, whether it be in the accounting phase, I’m a QuickBooks guy. I go out to parties and stuff like that. I like to talk to people and kind of get to know them. And it’s been really good for me on that aspect.
Yeah, and you and I actually met kind of at a party for the first time. That was our live podcast last August (2022). That was a lot of fun. And I’m glad I got to meet you there. That was great. And I and I know you specifically wanted to meet Scott Scarano there and you got to do that, right?
I did. And he was one of my idols there, you know?
Yeah, he’s a great guy, Scott and I are—I’m on his faculty for Accounting High this year. So not sure what that means, but we’ll find out shortly.
He’s got a great sense of humor, and a great way of doing things. He’s just great to talk with.
Oh, yeah, he definitely is. Alright. So the reason we’re talking “stroke” today is actually yesterday was World Stroke Day, which is an important day, you know, recognizing stroke and stroke survivors and stroke awareness. And so I did an episode like this about three and a half years ago, where I talked to another CPA who was a stroke survivor. And we did this in May, which is Stroke Awareness Month. And and I’ve always wanted to do this around the World Stroke Day too.
So let’s get into this. And I think the best place to start is, just tell us your stroke story. You know, what happened? And how did you know, I guess, and the whole thing—you know how to tell a stroke story. We all do. All survivors do.
All survivors do. And interesting enough, I have some family history. My father suffered a stroke, and I think he was about 68 at the time. His sister had one, he had a massive stroke, he was an attorney and practicing, and one day he just couldn’t get up, and my mother rushed him to the hospital. And he had suffered a stroke where he lost his speech, per se, his speech, his walking capabilities. He was a real mess. So I was very familiar with the stroke side.
And when I’m in my 40s, you know, you never think of this, you know, you thought you know, your dad had a stroke, alright, I gotta be worried when I’m in my mid 60s. And I was about, I think, was about 44 years old. And to my recollection, being in the Midwest, there was a snowstorm. And it was one of those heavy wet snows. And it really took a lot out of me to do the shoveling. And a couple days later, I developed a headache. And I’m prone to migraines, and no big deal and you know, you take something for it, and it just doesn’t seem to want to go away, alright?
So then two days, three days into this, this headache is not releasing, you’re starting to get concerned, you know, abnormal for you. And so you call the doctor and he prescribed something for you and two days later, this headache is not going away. And then I wound up going to the urgent care, they had at that time, it was first thing in the morning you could see a doctor at your doctor’s facilities, and I was there and they tried something else. And they tried something else again, and I ended up back at urgent, you know, the urgent care again, there was something that was just not right. This headache was absolutely not releasing.
And it was a Tuesday morning, And I had a client to see, and it was also tax season.
Yeah, I was going to say.
Yep. And I’m trying so hard to put in those hours to get some of the work done. And it was in February. So it was really the start of it. And you’re pushing, you just can’t take the time to relax, because you’re pushing to get your accounting work done. So I was leaving to go for a client, I needed to stop and get gas. And I pull up to the tank, and I try and open, you know, the gas tank knob. And I’m realizing, there’s something wrong here, you’re not opening, there’s something wrong here. Something’s not happening right. So I noticed, alright, I’m a little bit, I’m right by the house, and I drove home and immediately called one of my friends. And she knew right away what was going on. And I was slurring my words. And she says, you’re able to walk? She goes, open the front door. And I went and I opened the front door. And I can just tell you within four minutes, the paramedics were there.
Somebody who knew what was happening, and was astute enough to do the exact right thing.
Yep. Yep. And that’s so important.
And then you, so you got to the hospital quickly. What was that like?
It was interesting. I was still slurring my words. But, you know, I was, you know, the funny the paramedics walked in, and I walked out to greet them. It was like, oh, you’re walking here. I’m not knowing what’s going on. My friend drives over and goes with us to the hospital. It’s probably my first ride in the ambulance. So they got me there. But they started giving me some sort of intravenous in my arm and stuff like that right away on the trip there. And it was frightening to me not knowing what was going on. I couldn’t talk. I could walk, but I couldn’t talk. It was just so strange to me. And trying to communicate, you know, if my friend Susan was not with me, I would not have been able to iterate. It’s a very scary feeling. And then they take you in for an MRI. And that’s, hey, when you’ve really never been sick, you really never had even, I’ve never had a hospital stay before. That’s like, okay.
I’m in the emergency room. But as the day started to progress on, my wording, my speech started to come back, you know? So I was beginning to start to talk again. And in the emergency room, you know, they’re taking me for a CAT scan, an MRI. I still have an intravenous in me. You know, it gets crazy in an emergency room. I had a pee. I got up and there was a urinal and I walked over to the urinal to compete with just my natural thing and some nurse yells, hey, what are you doing? What are you doing? And then she gives me this thing like an egg carton finished peeing all over the place like, no, why don’t you just let me finish being like, oh, no, you’re not supposed to, you know, you’re not supposed to be doing that you’re supposed to be laying down.
And I was at a hospital that didn’t really, wasn’t a stroke center. So they didn’t really explain to me what was going on. But they said we’re going to need to transfer you to a different hospital. So at that point, I did hear them say the words flight for life. That was scary. Get the helicopter. All right. That’s not That’s not good. All right, not good. But then they said I seem to have, my vitals seem to have regulated and I was able to take up a private ambulance to another facility where they specialized in strokes.
Alright, so you got to the right place.
Got to the right place. And at 11:30 at night had another CAT scan. And the first thing in the morning they did an angiogram with me. Okay, kind of check to see what was going on. So the neurologist came in and basically said, I had heard that someone said something like a TIA.
Yep. That’s a mini stroke is what they call it. And that’s what they originally thought I had as well. But I think because your age—because I was 51 at the time, probably 44—that’s just what they think they think, okay, you’re too young to have a stroke. And in reality, you know, TIA basically leaves no damage in the brain where the stroke does leave damage in the brain.
And so how did they figure out it was actually a full fledged stroke?
Some of the tests that they did the neurologist came in and said just letting you know, you had a stroke.
Flat out, you had a stroke. So, and it was called a dissection of the carotid artery. So on my left side of my face, you know, like when you’re in a fitness class, and they say, okay, get find your carotid artery, right on the left side. And it split.
Yep. And I believe like I said, I got the headache two days after the shoveling of the snow. So to my thinking is, who was the shoveling of the snow and putting all that pressure on that, unfortunately, snapped the artery.
But it wasn’t in a place where they could they felt that to do surgery that it would heal on its own, so I was very lucky with that. I had a start on a blood thinner routine. They put me on Coumadin.
Oh, wow. Yeah, that’s that’s the strong stuff.
That was the strong stuff. And having to get regulated and get all these tests, you know, three times a week to check the levels. And I’m not a guy that likes medical needles is one of my favorite.
Yeah. You need to get used to it, though, at some point. And that’s what I did. I didn’t like ’em either. But man, I got poked and prodded so much. Needles don’t mean anything anymore to me, which is, I guess a good thing.
Right. So I was in the hospital for like, three days, and they sent me on home being on Coumadin and a regimen and I do recall hearing a swishing sound in my ears, a thumping sound in my ears. And I was a little concerned—that frightened me as well.
Oh, yeah. Yeah, I mean, after and I’m assuming and probably jumping ahead a little bit. But after the stroke, every single little thing you feel in your body you think is about to be another stroke, at least for me, and I see you nodding along and the same thing. So let’s talk about that three days in the hospital, then. Tax season, February, how quick did you go back to work?
I didn’t go back to the office until the end of March.
Okay. But still tax season, so.
Still tax season, and the great company that I worked for, very supportive. And they felt, you know, after I’m home a couple of weeks, and I’m starting to adjust again, they brought me some work to try from home.
It was a slow go.
Yeah, for sure. What about, you know, when this happened, you couldn’t speak it sound like you could move but couldn’t speak. Did speech come back pretty quick?
Yeah, speech came back about three, four in the afternoon.
Okay, and how about other deficits? Was there other things?
So, you know, right away, I did kind of notice that my balance was not great. And that’s been the way since the stroke happened. I can’t be on a, let’s say, you’re gonna give me a balance beam to walk on. Wouldn’t do so good. Or a straight line, or just something and when I go for some work with a personal trainer, we tend to sometimes work a lot on balance, because let’s see—the stroke was on I think my left side. So, I just on one side, I’m better at balance than the other. So that’s one of the things that has been a residual.
Another residual that I have is I’m more perkier, I’m better mornings than I am in the evenings. I can read the newspaper in the morning really good. My mornings tend to be good, but by seven, eight o’clock at night, I can’t really read. My attention span is just not great in the evenings.
Okay, so kind of a long term fatigue issue with the post stroke and which is not uncommon either. So segue into a couple things, but first, based on what you just said, I assume you try to front load your high concentration work in the morning because it sounds like, is this something that’s been a change you know, post stroke for you from a business standpoint.
Okay. Let’s talk about that. How does this affect your professional life? I mean, you took about whatever you know, you had it end of February, you went back end of March, but you know, that’s the immediate thing. Overall, other than the timing of when you work on projects, how has it affected your professional life?
I’m very lucky in that it hasn’t affected it greatly, although the type of business that I deal with is the small business when you bring me up to the bigger boys and stuff like that, too much numbers can get to me, charts and graphs and stuff like that, you know, interpreting Key Performance Indicators and stuff like that, it can be a little rough on the brain. In general, that part of the brain seems to be working fine—I’m great with clients, I remember a lot of stuff. It’s other than the work stuff, I forget a lot of stuff, I’m noticing that too.
So memory issues.
Some memory issues or something like, you know, you forget, oh, I need to grab this and this at the store. And you get to the store, what was on the list? What was I was supposed to get? I’ve reminded myself like six times.
Or I’ve got that, the phobia where you, I go in from one room to go get something in the kitchen. And then along the way, you have to stop to do something else, and you get somewhere else, and you’re waylaid because of that, and you don’t get to your original thing. That’s what I have.
So when this happened, this is not the current firm that you’re working at now, that you were working at the time. So I feel comfortable asking it, how did they react to it? Were they supportive? Were they…?
Very supportive, especially when you deal with a firm that’s kind of, you know, got some people in there. Everyone wants to kind of you know, work and give you a hand, right? It’s not like something that was just a two person, or you’re working for yourself, and then you’re really kinda screwed if you happen to run into some sort of issue like that.
Right. So okay, so support. And that’s so important. I had that with work as well and with family and everybody else was supporting. But even with that support, and we kind of talked about it a little bit: There’s an emotional aspect to this, a mental aspect to being a stroke survivor, because, I mean, I say this to people all the time—when you have a stroke, you’ve got like ten million things running through your mind at the same time, like, how did this happen? Will it happen again? You know. Am I going to die when I feel a twinge in my head next time? I’m not you know, all these things. And for me, that was a huge part of recovery. Was the emotional and mental aspect, a big part for you as well?
Yes, very much so.
And can you kind of explain that to us?
Every time I get a headache, you know, it’s like, oh, is this causing a problem, or I get a pain in the back of my head where it was part of the headache problem when I had the stroke, uh oh, you know, am I having an issue? Having a bad day, where at night, you’re just so tired and it keeps reminding you of the stroke. I so badly want to learn to play the guitar. But I’m finding, it’s just too difficult for me because of the stroke, because you have to do four things at once. You need your right arm to do the strumming, or your right hand. Your left hand to do the finding of the chords and the place on the bar. You need to be reading the music is three. And then if you have a metronome going to keep you in your time, it’s just way too hard for me. Way too hard. So I have given up on that. But basically, because of the stroke, I can’t do those things which come easy to people.
Right, well, not to me. Never did. I have played guitar—that’s about as far as I can say, because I’m not good at it. But I haven’t—that was pre stroke, too—it wasn’t good. But that’s good. How about other things? I mean, you’re tired in the evening, forgetful.
Right. And sometimes you get depression. It just, I guess goes along sometimes with the territory or somebody else has a stroke. You understand, that especially somebody young. You know, it’s like, you’re too young, like, why would you want to join my club? And no, it’s just not right. It’s, you just have this empathy for other people that have suffered it, and you know what they’re going through. And you’re kind of attuned to the, you know, the signs of a stroke, and items like that.
Yep. I think it’s really important for us, as survivors, to, you know, create awareness. I try to talk about this as often as I can, when I’m very fortunate, I get to go out and present a lot. I don’t do it as much as I used to, which I really should. But I’ll go through the whole acronym of identifying a stroke. And that’s I think, for me, and I’ve talked about my stroke story on this before and we didn’t go over it much. But for me, I also got to the hospital fast, or quickly, I should say. And the reason that I did is because I recognized the signs of a stroke when it started to happen. And I was actually with my brother, which is very fortunate, because as soon as it started happening, I looked at him, I said, I’m having a stroke, get me to the hospital. By the time he got to me, I lost the ability to speak and my whole left side went dead.
And so the reason then I knew that I was having it, because there’s an acronym out there—at the time it was called FAST. FAST still exists—but there’s BE FAST now. They’ve added a couple more letters to the acronym, no longer a four letter acronym, now a six letter acronym. But we were familiar as a family with this acronym, because my grandmother six months earlier had had a stroke. And so we all kind of identified the sign.
So the acronym to be aware of and now obviously the BE FAST is, all of them stand for something: B is for “balance,” and you already mentioned your balance is off. So if somebody just suddenly, their balance is just not right, there’s a sign that they may be having a stroke. The E is for “eyes,” if you just have a time, a bad time focusing your vision has gone blurry, that’s potentially a sign you’ve had a stroke, or are having a stroke. F is for “face.” If you look at somebody on one side of their face is drooping, sign they’re having a stroke. A is for “arms,” as somebody put their arms up, and if one of the arms can’t stay up, and it drops, another sign they’re having a stroke. S is for “speech.” If somebody’s speech is slurred, obviously like you and I had, or inability to speak, sign they’re having a stroke. And T is the most important thing. And T stands for “time,” because for both of us, the time was a huge aspect. Time to get to the hospital ASAP. So time to call 911. That’s the biggest tool as somebody who is with someone else having a stroke, or if you have the ability to call 911 while you’re having a stroke, that’s the biggest tool you have.
So BE FAST: balance, eyes, face, arm speech, time, time to call 911. So that’s just, you need to remember that, because I can’t remember the percentages, but I think it’s somewhere as much as high as 25% of us at some point in time will have a stroke in our lives. Now, somebody should verify my numbers because—someone needs to audit that because I’m not sure that’s the number. But it is a significant number. So awareness is important. And I really appreciate the fact that you’re good at telling your story because that awareness is going to help people. Sorry, I rambled there for a little bit.
That was good, though. I got several of them.
Exactly, exactly. So let’s go back because you reached out and I appreciate it, to me about this because you had been on a webinar where I had been talking about, you know, mental health awareness, which is so important. And hopefully one day you and I can do something like that together. Have you specifically gone out and seeked help on the mental aspect of recovery?
Yes, very much so.
Okay. Talking to counselors?
Yes. Does help. And in terms of one thing that is since the stroke, I have taken 81 milligram aspirin a day. So that’s kind of, I stopped within six months of the Coumadin regiment that I had the stroke.
So they’ve kept me on the 81 milligrams and aspirin. And you know, this doctor says, you know, you read in the paper you’re not supposed to be taking it. I said it to my doctor, and he says, you know what, you want to live? Take the pill.
Right. Yep, I’m on Plavix, which is a very, you know, nowhere near the level of Coumadin from, you know, I don’t have to get tests or anything, but I take one Plavix a day it’s, I think, supposed to be somewhere I could probably go to the the low dose aspirin as well, but my cardiologist is the one who recommended that.
And so for you, the other thing I think is important to point out because one of the questions that we all have is why. And for you, probably the shoveling the snow, the dissection, obviously the dissection is, but where did the dissection come from? And probably shoveling the snow. For me though, the why, and for most, about 50% of strokes, they’ll never know why. It just, you know, they can’t discover. For me, I had a hole in my heart, called a PFO. And they think that the clot formed on that hole. And rather than getting filtered through my lungs, it went straight up to my head and caused a block. A stroke is basically one of two things: a bleed in the brain, or a blockage in the brain. And for me, it was a blockage in the brain. And when oxygen can’t get to the brain, it causes damage.
So anything that you want to add to the whole stroke story, the recovery, the effects on the business, awareness, anything else?
I have become aware of a couple of organizations: One is obviously the American Stroke Association. I do give some good charity to them. They, when you know, you have a stroke or you need some guidance or some whatever type of materials or something, medical supplies and stuff, they’re there for you. So that was definitely a pro to me. And then you would introduce me to another organization that if you could elaborate on little bit, that would be great.
Yep, I would definitely. So after my stroke and again, I assume you did the same thing. You just want to reach out to somebody you want to find answers you want to, there’s all these questions we have run it through your head. And so the organization that I found that really helped me the most, and American Stroke Association is I have given to them I’ve supported them, I’ve been part of them. In fact, we, as an organization, that helped me the most is called Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other. It’s a mouthful. It’s SSEEO.org, is the website.
And when I had my stroke, I just found that they had so much information and so much help. I reached out to them and when I reached out, the director, the president of the organization, and one of the board of directors members reached out to me, and just we met. You know, the three of them and I. And they were just so helpful. And I started getting involved. I ended up a few years later was on the board of directors. I think less than a year after being on the board of directors, I was president of the organization. And it’s been a great organization. I actually introduced a gentleman to the organization on the board, and he’s also in the accounting profession, and he is now the president, he took over for me about that, oh, man, I don’t even know if it was a year and a half ago. I think that’s it.
But they’re a great organization. You know, I hosted a conference a couple of months ago, which I got to see you there again, which was great. And we had them as one of our nonprofit sponsors—we gave them a boost so that we could raise awareness for stroke awareness. And so SSEEO is a great organization. It’s grassroots. But we’ve actually even teamed up with the American Stroke Association now to install some of the programs that we have developed at SSEEO into the American Stroke Association, as well. So that organization has been great for me. Thank you for asking that.
Yep. And I’m trying to get myself more involved in that one.
Okay, well, I will make that introduction or between you and David.
It’s nice to know that there are resources out there.
It definitely is. So I think we need to wrap up, but before we wrap up the stroke side of things—no, let’s wrap up the stroke side of things, and then I want to ask you a couple of final questions. But you know, you just kind of did your wrap, I’m going to do mine. Again, stroke: Just be aware that this can happen to anybody. There’s a program out there, what’s it called—”stroke can happen at any age,” because it can.
It can! I was 44.
I was 51. We’ve had people that we supported in SSEEO that are in their teens that had a stroke. So this is not—and the funny thing was when I went to the hospital, I’m in the whatever, the neurology floor, whatever floor it was the acute care floor, I can’t remember what it was called. But they were saying, well, why are you here? You’re too young to have a stroke. And they even said that, and that’s something that’s not true. You can, a stroke can happen at any age. So don’t just think I’m 80 years old, that’s where I have to think I’m gonna have a stroke. It can happen anytime. Sorry, you were gonna say something?
That’s a true statement, because my doctor said, you were too young—he never thought that it would be a stroke symptom.
Right. Exactly. And that’s fortunately, at least when I went to the hospital, they did the MRI pretty quick. So they did, because they even said it in the hospital—well, we don’t think it’s a stroke. I’m going, it was a stroke. I know it was a stroke. And my speech came back while I was in the hospital. So I was very fortunate for that. Like you, we had a similar experience, but I tell them it was a stroke. They came in after reading the MRI, okay, you’re right, it was a stroke. I knew it.
Exactly. And so so just be aware of that beware of BE FAST, you know, seek it out, do your own research because if it’s not you at some point in time somebody you know is going to be affected by this and so if you can be prepared if you can be that that person if you can be the hero like my brother was to me to get me to the hospital quickly, that is so important because time’s the biggest thing you have. So anything you want to add to that Rich?
No like they say, if you’re somebody that knows the BE FAST like my friend Susan, she did, and boy, I’m glad that happened.
Yep, we both have heroes. Alright, so the final couple of things. Here we talked about this pretty heavy topic here today, stroke and all that. And you mentioned a few things already that you do outside of work, outside of being a stroke survivor that you do for fun, which is you know, trying the guitar, but being out with people, what are your outside of work passions, other things you’re into?
I do. I actually follow a European soccer league, the Premier League, and I am a big Man City fan. They were doing well, the last couple of years, we’re having a little trouble this year. But it’s still, it’s a nice passion. Soccer keeps my attention. It’s a game that moves fast, there’s no really start-stops. And in two hours, the games are over. And that keeps, it’s right in that attention span length for me.
Oh, okay, so good.
I can’t do long three hour movies, college football is almost three and a half hours. It just, the mental aspect, just can’t do that anymore. So this is one of my passions is following the Premier League.
Now, were you doing that before the stroke?
Oh, really! So it’s a new passion.
A new passion.
Alright. And then if anybody wants to see anything more about you, or reach out to you, what’s the best way to find out more about Rich Kane?
There you go. I noticed this morning. I don’t know why. But we were not connected on LinkedIn. So I sent a request this morning. So we’ll take a look at that. And we’ll connect.
Alright, Rich. Well, I am glad—I am not glad you went through a stroke—but I’m glad you’re a survivor because you did go through a stroke. And so I really appreciate you sharing your story and helping others. And if we can affect anything in a positive way, obviously, it’s well worth it because I’d rather be here talking to you than not being here talking to you.
I agree. And I’m glad I met you because you give me more inspiration and more resources that I didn’t know was there. So thank you for all you do for this topic.
You got it. I appreciate it. Thanks, everybody, for sticking with us today and listening to this very important topic to us, but to everybody, and I hope none of you ever have to go through this. But if you do, remember: BE FAST.
About the Guest
Richard Kane, CPA, is a client accounting and tax specialist and a member of the QuickBooks Pro Advisory Group. He has been honored by Intuit for being a QuickBooks Pro Advisor for over 25 years, and has been a Top 100 QuickBooks Pro Advisor for six years running. He suffered a stroke at the age of 44 and has a remarkable story of recovery.
Rich currently serves as the Director of Business Services for Northshore Professional Group in Northbrook, Illinois, a role he has served in since 2019.
Meet the Host
Randy Crabtree, CPA
Randy Crabtree, co-founder and partner of Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals, is a widely followed author, lecturer and podcast host for the accounting profession.
Since 2019, he has hosted the bi-weekly “The Unique CPA,” podcast, which ranks among the world’s 5% most popular programs (Source: Listen Score). You can find articles from Randy in Accounting Today’s Voices column, the AICPA Tax Adviser (Tax-saving opportunities for the housing and construction industries) and he is a regular presenter at conferences and virtual training events hosted by CPAmerica, Prime Global, Leading Edge Alliance (LEA), Allinial Global and several state CPA societies. Crabtree also provides continuing professional education to top 100 CPA firms across the country.
Schaumberg, Illinois-based Tri-Merit is a niche professional services firm that specializes in helping CPAs and their clients benefit from R&D tax credits, cost segregation, the energy efficient commercial buildings deduction (179D), the energy efficient home credit (45L) and the employee retention credit (ERC).
Prior to joining Tri-Merit, Crabtree was managing partner of a CPA firm in the greater Chicago area. He has more than 30 years of public accounting and tax consulting experience in a wide variety of industries, and has worked closely with top executives to help them optimize their tax planning strategies.