“When you’re a small business owner, you quickly learn that there’s no job too big or too small.”
That’s one of the most important lessons Paula Bindert, CPA, gained from her years of owning her public accounting firm.
And she brought that hard-earned lesson, along with 27 years of public accounting experience, to her new role as a Wealth Advisor — in which she looks forward to helping other small business owners plan for their financial future.
Business Banking Manager Jeremy Keckler believes Paula’s experience makes her a valuable asset to other business owners looking for financial planning services.
“It’s important to surround your business with trusted advisors — including an attorney, business banker, CPA, and financial planner,” he said. “Paula’s experience from owning her own business makes her that much more equipped to help other business owners plan for their financial futures.”
Paula doesn’t exclusively work with business clients in her new role, but her 10 years of experience as a small business owner have made her more knowledgeable and understanding of the challenges other entrepreneurs face.
The story begins during the spring semester of her senior year at Northwestern College in Orange City, IA:
At the time, the Parker, SD, native was interning with the accounting firm Henry Scholten & Co LLP, located — ironically — on the third floor of our Downtown Sioux Falls building.
“I grew up about 25 miles west of Sioux Falls on my parents’ farm,” Paula said. “I could always see myself staying around the area. It seemed like a great place to start a family.”
And, as it would turn out, the Sioux Falls area was also a great place to start a business — but the story isn’t there quite yet.
That fall, Henry Scholten & Co LLP offered Paula a full-time position.
Over the years, Paula continued her career at Eide Bailly LLP and then at Lamfers & Maas LLP. It was there that, in 2011, the opportunity arose for her to start her own public accounting firm with Shelly Fossum.
The pair opened Fossum & Bindert LLP in Canton, SD.
Along with sharing the responsibilities for the administration of her own firm, Paula provided her clients with tax planning, consulting, and preparation services through many life and tax events: getting married, having children, starting businesses, sending those kids off to college, and preparing for retirement.
“I loved that I was able to own my own business,” Paula said. “Business ownership was a great sense of accomplishment, and it gave me a broader perspective to help my clients in their own businesses.”
While Paula enjoyed many aspects of business ownership, she also experienced the challenges of owning a small business.
“Like many other small business owners, staffing was one of the biggest challenges we faced,” Paula said.
In public accounting, extra staff is needed at peak times during tax season. When there wasn’t enough staff available, the additional work and hours became the responsibility of the owners.
Over the years, it became increasingly difficult for Paula to maintain a work-life balance — something many entrepreneurs can relate to.
So, when opportunity knocked again in 2021, it was Paula’s turn to plan for her retirement from public accounting.
During the transition of Fossum & Bindert LLP, our Wealth Advisory Manager, Don Rahn, reached out to Paula about a new position on his team.
Rahn asked Paula to consider coming to the Bank as our newest Wealth Advisor, and just like the other great opportunities that came across her desk over the years, Paula couldn’t turn this one down.
“One of the aspects that I loved most about my time in public accounting was working alongside clients to help them with their tax planning,” Paula said. “And now, as a Wealth Advisor at First National Bank, I can continue to bring that tax perspective to our clients’ financial plans as we help them prepare for their financial futures.”
And so, 28 years after she began her internship with Henry Scholten & Co LLP, Paula moved into a fourth-floor office of the same building in which she started her career.
This time, though, she has experience in both public accounting and owning a small business, and she expects to use that tax expertise and knowledge of business ownership to help clients with their financial planning.
“There is always a tax perspective that needs to be considered when working through a financial plan, so I hope to be that resource for our clients here,” Paula said. “And I’m especially excited to help other business owners plan for a successful financial future.”
If you’re looking for a trusted wealth advisor to help support your business, reach out to Paula — she’d be happy to assist you with your financial planning needs!
For any of your other business banking needs, reach out to Jeremy to see how our Business Banking team can help.