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Meet Alice Cherng of AMC CPAs & Consultants in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alice Cherng.

Alice, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Arcadia at the age of 8 with my parents and brother.

My dad was the CEO of his multi-million dollar, international logistic business, and my mom did accounting for his business. At around 13-years-old, my dad lost his business and had to declare bankruptcy, leaving our family with no savings. A combination of years of stress and the blow of losing his empire, my dad became severely ill and could not work. As such, my mom started looking for work to support our family. With a language barrier and no college degree, my mom was only able to get office jobs through her friends. To make ends meet, she self-taught accounting, so she can vie for better-paying accounting positions. This is when I was about to go to college and decide what I wanted to major in.

Having gotten into UCLA and having had exposure to a career only in accounting, I set my sights on getting an accounting degree from Day 1 of college. I put myself through college with financial aid and work study, attended numerous career networking events, was elected as an officer of the Student Accounting Society, and kept my grades up. Essentially, I did everything I needed to ensure that I would secure a job with a Big 4 accounting firm.

I started my accounting career with PricewaterhouseCoopers, which taught me immensely about how to be a professional. It was truly the training ground for shaping a college student into a high-performing corporate professional. This is where I got my CPA license. I enjoyed the challenges, but didn’t enjoy the cut throat competition. After two years, I quit and got a job as Senior Financial Analyst at the Walt Disney Company, where I learned about corporate finance and financial analysis, something that will eventually set me apart from other accountants down the road.

After a year at Disney, I moved to the east coast for a relationship. I lived in a small college town and worked at a small non-profit as Business Manager, which meant doing everything admin, accounting, and office-related. That was how I got exposed to small business accounting, and I love it. I loved how hands on it was. I saw first-hand how accounting can truly impact a small organization. It provides clarity and confidence that an owner needs to successfully run a business. The experience was day and night compared to PwC and Disney, but equally valuable.

I moved back to Los Angeles in 2011. While living on the east coast, I became a vegan and had gotten certified as a natural chef. I was feeling stuck in my accounting career, so I wanted to explore a career in restaurants. For the next 2 years, I worked at a vegan restaurant called Cafe Gratitude, where I worked from a cook, to a host, to a bartender, to a server, and eventually to a manager. I fell in love with the restaurant industry, but it was an exhausting job with very little financial reward.

Having jumped from a CPA to a cook, I had to find more ways to make money, so I started taking on side bookkeeping jobs. Over time, my job as a restaurant manager became more demanding, while my part-time bookkeeping job became more lucrative.

So in 2013, I quit my restaurant job and decided to focus full-time back to accounting, but it was different this time. I was calling the shots. I decided when I will work and who I will work with. I created my own systems, looked for new clients, built my own brand and website, hired people, and just kept building my team and client list.

Since I had 2 years of restaurant operating experience, I started specializing in restaurant and retail clients. With my unique background in corporate finance, small business bookkeeping, and retail experience, I was able to build an accounting practice that is considered an expert in the industry. I love serving local restaurant and retail owners. Working with these passionate entrepreneurs and seeing how their businesses are growing with financial transparency remind me everyday why I do what I do.

Oh, btw, I also own a vegan ice cream shop in Hollywood called Cocobella Creamery. Just opened it 4 months ago.

Has it been a smooth road?
Biggest struggle for me so far is learning how to hire and train people. Hiring and training take a lot of time and money. When I didn’t know how to hire the right people and train them properly, my client work or relationship would suffer. I almost lost a couple of clients because of poor performance of my staff. At the end of the day, I am fully responsible for their work, so I have learned over time how to hire the right people and to develop fail-proof systems to prevent major mistakes.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with AMC CPAs & Consultants – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
My accounting firm, AMC CPAs & Consultants, is based in Hollywood, CA. We specialized in bookkeeping and tax services for restaurants and retailers. I am most proud of the system that I have built based on both of my experiences as an accountant and a restaurant manager.

My bookkeeping system is efficient and accurate. We use many cloud-based software to streamline and automate our client data to minimize human errors and to free us up to focus on more technical issues.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love how many restaurants and boutiques that are sprinkled around Los Angeles.

Every spot is unique and interesting. As a foodie personally, I really enjoy trying out new places to eat. You just can’t beat the variety and diversity of what’s available in LA.

Traffic is an obvious one to dislike, but seriously, why is it always congested??

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