Anthony G. King, CPA

BY JIM ROMEO AND PAUL BONNER

Principal, King, King & Associates PA, Baltimore

I’ve been in this profession basically since I was 16 years old, along with all four of my brothers and sisters, in the footsteps of our late father, Benjamin L. King. At some point all of us have worked in the family firm. My two sisters, Pamela King Smith and Kara King-Bess, and I currently own and manage the firm.

My father never told us we had to study accounting, but he did provide the opportunity—with an incentive. He would dangle the car keys. At age 16 if you wanted to get your driver’s license, he’d say, OK, fine, and I’ll help you get a car. But you’re going to pay for it, and here’s a way to do it: Come down to my office after school and on Saturdays and holidays, and you start working.

He was a pioneer, also, becoming in 1957 the first black CPA in Maryland and the 38th in the country. In 1972, he founded the Baltimore chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. I remember participating in some of the local chapter activities while in college at the University of Baltimore in the mid-’70s. Today, I chair NABA’s Division of Firms.

Because of my early introduction to the business world, I really wasn’t interested in being a history major or an engineer in college, where I arrived already knowing how to prepare financial statements and do tax returns. After college, I moved into corporate accounting for the next 15 or 16 years. For several years I worked for a food service management company, then spent four years in New York in the executive office of Touche Ross. We were the accounting department for the accounting firm. Then I worked, also in New York, for an insurance brokerage firm that owned insurance companies as well. I came back to Baltimore in the early 1990s and rejoined the family firm.

When NABA was founded in 1969, there were fewer than 150 black CPAs in the United States. Today, the number is still statistically dismal, approximately 1% to 2%. There are many factors contributing to these statistics, and these issues are of concern to NABA. There’s a strong effort to bring the students in, keep them in and see them through the whole process. The 150-hour rule may discourage some, or they may prefer to try for higher-paying jobs in IT or finance. At Howard University in Washington, D.C., accounting professor Frank Ross and the Center for Accounting Education, of which I’m on the board of advisers, also are addressing this issue.

My father similarly sought to create a legacy as a longtime adjunct professor at Morgan State University here in Baltimore. A lot of people across the nation recognize the influence he had on their education as well as having assisted probably dozens of minority CPAs who could trace their success directly to him.

I try to do the same thing with the accounting students involved with NABA, as well as entrepreneurs who have a sincere desire to learn more about their accounting and business functions. I participate as an instructor in some of the Baltimore city small business development resource centers, where I present seminars two or three times a month on accounting for nonaccountants. To relax, I play tennis. I’m a huge fan and very passionate about the game. I play competitively and just for fun. I also love listening to jazz.

Facilitating the entry of minority youth into the profession begins at the high school level. My sister Kara speaks often at high schools for the Maryland Association of CPAs. The times that I have done it I think have been very informative for the kids, whose idea of what an accountant is may be limited to filling out tax returns. I tell them to think of a CPA as a businessman’s doctor.

My advice to the rising stars in our profession is to persevere. Expect to be challenged by your peers and superiors, and if you are not being challenged, ask for it. Seek out the difficult assignments and move out of your comfort zones. Make yourself noticeable and stand out from the crowd.

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