Applying tactical accounting and tax planning expertise to support clients’ business strategies
Jane Scaccetti is the CEO of Drucker & Scaccetti, P.C. (D&S), an accounting and tax advising firm headquartered in Philadelphia. For over 25 years, D&S has provided specialized financial consulting services to entrepreneurs as well as private and public corporations and family-owned businesses. The firm refers to its team members as Tax Warriors, emphasizing their discipline, tactical prowess, and passion for vigorously defending clients’ wealth and assets. A preeminent figure in her field, Jane is an accomplished executive, CPA, and community leader. She was the first woman to tax partner of any Big Eight firm in Philadelphia, and has sat on the boards and audit committees of organizations and businesses such as Temple University (where she also taught as a professor), Salus University, Penn National Gaming, Mathematica Policy Research, and The Pep Boys. She is also an influential member of Philadelphia’s 2016 DNC Host Committee and a former host of Money Matters TV. Her numerous honors include the Take the Lead Award from the Girl Scouts of Eastern PA (2016), the Temple University Hospital Diamond Award (2014), the Philadelphia Business Journal Outstanding Directors Award (2013), and the PA Best 50 Women in Business Award (2006).
Jane Scaccetti spoke with Don Foster, Chair of Offit Kurman’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group, for this interview.
DON FOSTER: What does it mean to be a Tax Warrior?
JANE SCACCETTI: We adopted the name “Tax Warriors,” after we worked for a not for profit once and they said, “You need to name your team.” Someone came up with “the Tax Warriors.” A few years later, our IT guy told me that I needed a domain name. I had no idea that domain names would be something that were visible—I just thought it would be something behind the scenes. I didn’t think people could easily spell Drucker & Scaccetti, so I said, “Why don’t you just use Tax Warriors?” We did, and then a few years after that, Reese Paley—a client and friend—wrote the mantra of the Tax Warrior. The concept there was that, over time—whether they would be samurais or archangels, or whether it was King Arthur—it was always someone who would try and control the governors so that you didn’t have unbridled power. [Reese] saw that as the Tax Warriors: people who studied hard, understood the tax law, and would represent people before taxing authorities. We liked that concept; that’s exactly what we were building in our firm.
Our culture in our firm is that we want to be a small big firm. We all came from a national background, at least the founders did, and what we saw was the real benefit of hiring very smart people and giving them opportunities for training. We pay for our masters in taxation for most of our employees; I would say “all of our employees” because that’s what we do do—I guess we reserve the right to maybe someday not—but we really believe in education, especially in the masters in tax program. Our culture is that what we do is serious, and it’s important, but it’s not life-threatening, so we like our people to have fun when they’re doing it. We want them to be inquisitive. We want them to ask questions. We want them to be enthusiastic. In order to do that, you have to give them the tools that allow them to be that.
Q. What kinds of questions do you encourage your employees to ask?
A. When we look at a tax return, when we’re working with someone that’s new to the firm, we’ll ask them the questions: “Why do you think they did what they did? Why do you think they sold this business? Why do you think that they haven’t made enough money? What is this tax return telling you when you look at it—do they have a strong income statement, which is about the tax return, but what is their balance sheet? Are they saving? If they’re not saving, are there ways for us to talk to them about it?”
So, you start to grow this culture where you’re always asking the questions, finding out more information, processing that information—from being well-trained and then giving back value looking for those opportunities to continue to grow and help your clients grow. That’s the culture and we have a lot of fun.
I mean, accountants are people that like to count numbers, so recently we did a “state of the firm” video that was to be the prelude to me giving the state of the firm address, to tell them what happened in 2015 and set the stage for 2016. In the video, we had a lot of fun with it. It starts out somewhat serious and it says we had a 120 new clients, we had a 11.6% growth, and then it tells you how many complaints to the IT department, how many requests for help—and we computed every number—and it goes on to say, “How many cups of coffee?” So we counted all the K cups that we purchased, how many dinners we gave… And it just went on and then how many new clients in some of the areas that we specialize in, which were law firms and LGBT clients and professional athletes, so we gave them all a sense of things that they’ve done. And it ended with “…and how many firms are like Drucker & Scaccetti?” And it said zero. I think our people believed that, I think we right now have a really, really passionate group of people who love to do taxation, who love the law, but aren’t constricted by just the law. They really are interested in their clients, they like to see it grow, they want to know more about what we're doing. I think those two qualities—to be both enthusiastic and to be curious—they’re part of our core values. It’s part of what drives the culture at the firm.
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