Senior Audit Manager Justin Betyar has been with LLME for 12 years, joining the firm after graduating from San Diego State University with a Master’s in Accounting following an early career in sales. A college athlete and avid fantasy sports team participant, Justin discovered a surprising benefit to working at LLME. Curious? Read on.
How does your experience in private industry help as you work with clients as an outside auditor? What about that experience has proven to be most valuable?
I began my career in sales after graduating with a business degree from the University of California, Riverside. Interacting with so many different companies as I traveled around San Diego allowed me to observe how businesses really work on a day-to-day basis. I learned how to listen to people and discover what issues and concerns were important to different groups. I still use those people skills in my practice at LLME.
What type of clients and situations do you work with? Are there any industries or areas of practice you focus on?
I work with all types of clients, industries, practices and situations. Due to my sports background – I was on the UC Riverside NCAA Division 1 tennis team, where I played doubles with my brother – I was initially attracted to LLME because of the firm’s extensive practice serving professional athletes. I worked quite a bit with those clients while I was with the tax department. Since moving to the audit department around eight years ago, I’ve worked with everything from mom-and-pop businesses to companies approaching or exceeding $1 billion in revenue. My clients currently include companies in manufacturing and distribution, technology, real estate, agriculture and the not-for-profit world. I really enjoy the variety of industries and company sizes that I get to work with. What I’ve found is that working with smaller businesses can be more challenging but also very rewarding. You tend to see more “Aha!” moments.
What advice can you give to businesses preparing for an audit?
The most helpful advice I can give is to prepare for the audit in advance; don’t wait until the auditors show up or call to arrange a meeting. Reach out to your auditors ahead of time with any questions you may have about potential business transactions. As you’re closing the books and making final adjustments at the end of your fiscal year, think about what the auditors will need. Try to remember the kinds of questions they asked in the past. Make sure you have good support for schedules and accounts – accurate reports that tie to the financials. Having those schedules ready for the audit team prior to fieldwork will likely lead to less of your time being needed once the audit begins.
During the audit, expect lots of questions. As auditors, we know that everyone in the client’s business has a day job, but we do need to ask for documents and discuss procedures to do our job well. Think of us as advisers rather than adversaries. We do all have the best interests of the business at heart.
What made you choose accounting as a career?
After deciding that sales wasn’t the career for me, I was advised by my aunt, who is also a CPA, to explore accounting and tax in particular. The more classes I took, I discovered that I enjoyed the work. My aunt, a friend and former colleague of Bob Lofgren (one of our firm’s founders), introduced me to Bob. I knew LLME was a great fit right away. I interned here and then joined the tax team after graduation.
Anything your clients would be surprised to learn about you?
It’s not exactly “The Office,” but I am half of the first official “LLME couple.” I married tax manager Rachel McQuade in July 2018. We first met when Rachel was an intern and started dating when she went back to school prior to being offered a full-time position. Among all the relationships I’ve developed, that one is clearly the most meaningful, and our days now consist of not only the accounting work we still do, but also raising our two daughters, Lily and Summer, who were born in 2020 and 2022, respectively. To add to the chaos, we have three rescue dogs named Casper, Roxy and Scout who we’ve added to the family since the time we got married.
As LLME’s “ambassador of fun,” can you describe the firm’s company culture? What types of events are on the horizon for 2023?
Something that drew me to the firm from the first days I started working here was the mindset that when it’s time to work, we get the job done, but when that is over, we also have fun as a team. Prior to the pandemic, that consisted of things like softball, volleyball and kickball leagues, the occasional random happy hour just to bond with friends/co-workers and one-off events like movie nights with the audit department. As we finally return to normalcy, we will start to pick those events back up, but in the meantime, if there are any sports betting pools to speak of, I’m generally involved. Whether it’s NFL, World Cup, LLME bowling or NCAA pools (football or March Madness), there is always something fun to get involved in to allow some bonding and office trash talk. We all work hard, but we also like to have a good time with those we work with. From a firm standpoint, we recently attended a Padres game, had our holiday party on a San Diego Harbor cruise and will likely be visiting the Rancho Bernardo Inn and attending the Del Mar races following the conclusion of our busy season for some well-deserved R&R.
Any hobbies or strong interests outside work?
Aside from time with the kids and our rescue pups, when I’m not busy with my day job, I’ve become an avid BBQ enthusiast. During the pandemic with two young kids, time away from the house was few and far between, so I spent a lot of time outside with my smokers and grills. At this point, if I’m not out there a few times a week (BBQing brisket, ribs, pork, bacon, etc.), it’s abnormal. Additionally, I am generally involved in various fantasy sports leagues as referenced above.
Any new year’s resolutions you’d like to share?
In the same vein of BBQing, my wife recently allowed me (yes, allowed me) to get a woodfired pizza oven, so I look forward to honing that craft for family dinners when busy season isn’t in full force.