King Chan ’82 knew what he wanted to do from a young age. Impressed by his parents’ accountant, who had a nice house and a new car every two years, Chan decided early that he wanted to be an accountant, too. His parents, who had immigrated from Hong Kong, owned a dry-cleaning business in Providence, RI, and hoped their son would go into medicine. But Chan had made up his mind. “When I pick a plan, I usually stick to it,” he says. When it came time to enroll in college, Bryant was the obvious choice for its nearby location, and the strong reputation of its accounting program.
One thing he wishes he’d learned more about in school, he says, is human psychology. “Academics and the real world are different,” he chuckles. Even in a field like accounting, which seems logical and straightforward, he says, “you meet all kinds of people with all kinds of idiosyncrasies and issues.”
"Success is finding something that you enjoy doing."
But he learned to listen closely to understand how to meet his clients’ true needs and recommend the right strategies. His philosophy stresses honesty, integrity and professionalism.
His firm, Chan & Company, based in the Los Angeles area, focuses largely on the real estate industry. Though many of his clients are local to the Southern California region, they work with clients from all over, including a number of overseas companies and U.S. companies expanding abroad.
Early in his career he worked for Big Four firms, but now he prefers that his own company, started in 2015, remain small so that he can be hands-on and closely control the operations and quality.
“I want to have fun, I want to work with the type of clients I prefer and I want to do it in a small firm where we can provide the best possible service,” he adds. His advice? “Success is finding something that you enjoy doing.”
Having invested heavily in IT and related security in an effort to reduce the amount of paper they needed to generate and store, Chan was well positioned to go remote when COVID hit. Though business remained strong, he says cash flow suffered because of the financial pressures his clients experienced.
Accounting is usually the last function to get any love or attention, he jokes. “But the most rewarding thing about my profession is that when I do a good job, I can tell by the way my client reacts. The icing on the cake is when I send a bill for my services and they pay it — that’s a wonderful feeling!”