Updated: Jul 7
Ed Mofrad, CPA owner of Mofrad Financial Solutions, started his practice in April 1996. He and his associates have since strived to provide the most reliable tax and financial services for their clients. Over the years, Mr. Mofrad has worked ceaselessly to upgrade the professional services to accommodate evolving needs and niches of the community.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
I was working with the IRS as an internal revenue agent. An IRS agent may not prepare tax returns for pay, since that is construed as a conflict of interest. Therefore, although many IRS agents have become experts in taxation, they are barred from becoming practitioners while still associated with the Service.
In my case, upon leaving the IRS I started my practice – at first as a part-time concern while starting a new teaching career. Fast-forwarding to 2010, the practice had grown so much, I knew I was at the career cross-roads again, since I could no longer treat the practice as my “side-gig”. Therefore, I left teaching and have focused on the practice on a full-time basis since.
How did you deal with the fear and doubt? What was the most challenging part?
I had a specific principle the day I decided to go the entrepreneurial route: have the fear, but do it anyways. Fear is reasonable because it keeps us from being foolish, but have the fear, check yourself logically – and if it makes sense do it anyway. Even if you make a mistake, so what? Life is trial and error.
In the formative years of the practice, there were a lot of growing pains. I faced some of the classic issues starting entrepreneurs typically come across – most notably: money coming in wasn’t always equal to/greater than the expenses. To make ends meet, I was often left with the only (painful) choice of pulling money out of my teaching retirement fund. Then, there was the related issue of non-paying (often highly trusted) clients. In the typical learn-as-you-go pattern business owners go through, we were too trusting at first, without a lot of internal control procedures to deal with such instances. Fortunately, we are not bogged with those issues now.
What has been your favorite part while running your own business?
Coming from a teaching background; the greatest joy has been watching our associates learn, grow, mature, develop, and reach for higher goals. We emphasize from the outset that we are an “entrepreneurial firm”, and constantly reinventing ourselves on a personal and firm level is a requirement for the job. Associates are given as much freedom as possible to perform their tasks. We have several success stories of talented people joining us out of undergraduate/graduate school and over the years setting further goals and accomplishing them. These individuals show their gratitude by not dissociating from the firm over the long haul but keep their affiliation even through working remotely when life has made it necessary for them to move away. The tangible degrees such associates have accomplished (while working full time with us) include CFA, CFP, EA, and MST. We have also sponsored motivated noncitizens for work visas – on their paths toward US residency.
We believe each individual holds enormous potential, and at any given time is only manifesting a fraction of what they are capable of. Personally, I feel it part of my duty to help individuals who associate with us see/achieve the unlimited power they hold within. It is human nature to at first be scared to even acknowledge their own abilities, because then we are tempted to take risks to bring out the best in us. This is where overcoming our fears becomes functional.
Further, given my own international background, I enjoy traveling, meeting, and working with people from around the world. Since US Expatriate Taxation is one of our focus areas, I have had the pleasure of traveling to other countries and meeting their people, while promoting our firm’s expertise: best of both worlds.
What is something you were never willing to compromise with your business?
Quality of service, not losing sight of our end-goals. For instance: we pride ourselves in the services we provide – perpetually stiving to discover and utilize underserved niches. While living in Thailand for nearly four years, I realized how under-served Americans were in other countries with their US tax needs. By federal law, US persons from anywhere on earth must file taxes yearly. Preparing/filing your taxes correctly is a challenge when you are in the US. Now imagine being in a land where nearly no one knows anything about it. What help is available is usually very costly “Big 4” type assistance geared towards fortune 500 companies present in that country. We are set up to help the small/medium sized guys/companies overseas with their tax needs. The challenge there is reaching our target market – since US persons abroad encompass the entire planet! However, we don’t even let a monumental challenge as such stomp our path, as we have found effective ways to reach Americans in various countries around the world.
What separates your company from the rest?
We never become complacent – constantly looking for ways to re-invent ourselves to serve the ever-changing needs of our community. For instance, prior to same-sex marriage becoming the law of the land, we handled Registered Domestic Partnership taxation. This is a very intricate area of tax law, due to California being a Community Property State. The way the two sets of laws combine is very particular, requiring special expertise. We did what we had to in order to truly become experts at it. However, once same sex marriage became legal, a majority of our RDP clients then got married, rendering RDP a somewhat obsolete – though still a valid and legal area of taxation (and since 2019 open to all union-minded couples, not just the same sex ones). Thanks to our constant outward vision, we managed to adapt by making other up and coming expertise our own (RE, wealth/retirement advisement, business valuation, etc.). Another factor that sets us apart from the rest is our international make up, evidenced by the number of languages we collectively speak: English, Spanish, Tagalog, Persian, and Chinese.
Mofrad Financial Solutions is an entity that has progressed over time and has largely kept the same team intact for the past decade. Apart from the image of the typical accounting firm, the vision of the firm is unique in that we are entrepreneurial, ever changing, adapting, reinventing to meet the realities of the world around us They do not view our people as “employees”, but as team members in training to be the entrepreneurs of the future. They are sincerely interested in the career development of our associates and invested in their success.
Ed Mofrad (the founder), who immigrated from Iran at 13, is a self-made proprietor. Through the experiences he went through in his life, he is now in a stage where he wants to help others go through similar struggles. Luqman was once asked: How did you learn great manners? He responded: from observing those with poor manners: what seemed unpleasant, I saw not to repeat. Taking this philosophy to heart, he saw not to repeat the bad treatment of his former managers/jobs (through decades of experience) for his associates in his practice.
Unsurprisingly, despite starting the firm from a small room at his home, it has grown to the success we see today – and today is only the beginning of the future. Wealth is not greed; you can not take it with you, but with it, you can make this world a better place.
Mofrad Financial Solutions is a company that has progressed over time and has kept the same workers for the past decade. That is because the company's owner differs from others in his position. He does not call his team “employees” to him; they are his “associates.” He is also earnest about helping them grow and be their best. Ed, who immigrated from Iran at 13, has built himself up. Through the experiences he went through in his life, he is now in a stage where he wants to help others going through similar struggles. He has made it one of his life goals to support all communities and groups best and ensure they receive the same assistance. He continues to work hard and improve upon himself. Unsurprisingly, despite starting the company in his room, it has grown to the success we see today.