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Tim Cox – Driving Positive Change

The CPA designation has helped many professionals reach their personal goals. For Tim Cox, it’s also the vehicle that allows him to help others reach theirs.

It was a car that drove Tim Cox to accounting.

He was just a kid when he saw it, his neighbour cruising down the street in a snarling sports car. In Essex, Ontario (a small suburb of Windsor) where Tim grew up, car culture is close to sacred, and he just couldn’t resist — he needed to know more. “So I asked him what he did for a living,” Tim says. The man explained that he was a partner at a local accounting firm. And that was it; Tim was hooked. “Having no idea what an accountant was at the time, I knew that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up,” the CPA laughs. “All based on my neighbour’s car.”

Today, Tim is Senior Manager of Tax, at PwC in London, Ontario — and the proud owner of a 2010 Shelby Mustang GT500. But while accounting has been the vehicle that’s helped Tim reach his childhood dream, it’s helping others achieve their lifelong goals that continues to fuel his drive.

"I’ve had the opportunity to work with great clients from start-ups to public companies, and even rock stars and professional athletes,” Tim explains. “Some of my favourite clients to work with, though, are the ones where I have a direct impact on them achieving lifelong goals. Those are the situations where we’re helping sell a company that was started from scratch so the founder can now retire, or helping employees buy out a corporation that they helped build for years."

"Some of my favourite clients to work with, though, are the ones where I have a direct impact on them achieving lifelong goals"

It’s a sentiment that winds through much of Tim’s work outside of the office, as well. He spent years volunteering for his local CPA Association in Windsor, eventually becoming President. As President, his goal was simple: “I just wanted to bring CPAs together,” he says. By organizing a variety of networking events, like golf and volleyball tournaments, and including other professions, like lawyers and engineers, that’s exactly what he did.

He also became interested in sharing his insights with up-and-coming CPAs, teaching accounting principles and theory as an instructor with Nipissing University and St. Clair College. “My entire family is teachers, so I suppose it’s in my blood,” he says with a chuckle. “But I like the idea of passing knowledge on to the next generation of CPAs. Some of my former students are working for firms now. It’s always great to see their progress.”

And while Tim acknowledges that tax is something many people just don’t want to think about, he knows how vital it can be for others. There are those who stand to gain much from a tax return. It’s why Tim’s been so committed to CPA Ontario’s Tax Preparation Assistance program.

“It’s not something that a lot of people think of as a significant way that accountants can give back, but filing a tax return isn’t the easiest thing to do and getting someone to prepare it isn’t exactly cheap. Yet so many great government benefits programs are tied to filing a tax return,” he says. From GST credits to the child tax benefit, the return from these government offerings can be the difference for many members of our communities. “As a volunteer tax preparer for this program, you meet wonderful families who are so appreciative of your time,” he adds.

With this passion to give back, it’s no surprise that Tim jumped at the opportunity to join the advisory panel of CPA Ontario’s inaugural Community of Interest, Emerging Leaders. He was kind enough to give us a few minutes of his time to discuss his views on teaching the younger generation, what inspires him, and where that love of cars was born.

Tim Cox on…

On driving positive change — through tax

“Tax is a necessary part of doing business which can be complicated and many of our clients just want it taken care of. They also want to trust that it’s done right. I like being able to help out clients with this necessary task. Through tax consulting, I can help drive a positive change in a business through things like a restructuring or, in certain situations, providing solutions that improve a company’s cash flow.” 

 

On community involvement

“I was always interested in what was going on at a local, provincial and national level in our profession. So the best way was to get involved with the local CPA Association. I was a council member for a number of years before becoming VP, then President. It was exciting to get together with the other CPAs on council, just to see what everyone is doing and to help plan events for our local membership. I was saddened to resign as president of the Windsor CPA Ontario Association when I moved to London, but I know the council there is doing a great job. It also opened the door to continue volunteering with CPA Ontario as a member of the Emerging Leaders Council on a provincial level.”

 

On what inspires him

“I’m fortunate to have several inspiring professional mentors. From the proprietor of the first accounting firm I worked for in university to all the partners I work with at PwC now, they’ve all shown me how to become a trusted business advisor to clients and a leader in the office and the community.  But as far as heroes who continue to inspire me daily, it’s my parents.  They’ve always supported any endeavour I wanted to try and never pushed me down one path or another. ‘Be respectful, be supportive, and leave a positive impact on the people you meet in your life.’ That’s what I’ve learned from my parents and what I try to emulate.”

 

 

On why his love of cars is a Windsor thing

“I grew up in the Windsor area, where a lot of people work in the automotive industry and have a fun, summer car — a muscle car. When I was 16, the first car I bought was a ’91 Mustang. I drove that until it died and bought another one. There was even a point where I tried drag racing in Grand Bend. That was a lot of fun. Getting the 2010 Shelby GT 500 was a big check off my bucket list. I wouldn’t bring that car to the track for fear of wrecking it. I’ve always been a Mustang guy — despite the fact that I worked for Chrysler for a couple of years. As a car enthusiast, working for Chrysler was really cool. I got to see all the new cars — the Challengers and Vipers — in the parking lot and the display area. I’ve just always found cars very interesting.”

 

On fulfilling a childhood dream

“Like a lot of Canadian kids, my earliest career goal was to be a pro hockey player. That didn’t go very far, but in 2017 I had the opportunity to play in the Fiat-Chrysler / Detroit Red Wings alumni hockey tournament to support the United Way. I got to play with former pros Jimmy Carson and Petr Klima. Scoring a goal for my team on NHL ice and hearing it announced over the Joe Louis Arena loudspeakers was something my 10-year-old self would have only dreamed of. It was a great tournament, and we raised a lot of money for charities in the local Detroit area.”