10 Years of Trent Baeckl, a Tax Accountant with Drive

Golfing is fun; accounting is boring, or so young Trent Baeckl believed. Now a CPA and tax senior manager, Trent reflects on his ten years with the firm and the path that brought him to Perkins & Co.

When Trent’s college professor suggested accounting as a career path, he thought ‘No way!’ Though he’d always had a good head for figures, he also had a great golf game and planned to be a professional golfer and instructor. However, being a golf instructor while living in Michigan meant working 70 plus hours in nice weather and being rather bored during the long, cold winters. What’s fun about that?

So, instead of a career on the green, after graduating college Trent found himself working in a three-person accounting department of a small local company. To his own surprise, he really enjoyed the work. So much so that he went back to school to study accounting. Not only did accounting fascinate him, but the schedule suited him perfectly. Though he was slammed during spring and fall with tax deadlines, summer was mellow and allowed time for golf and tennis (another favorite hobby of his). After working two busy seasons in a small accounting firm, Trent was certain he’d found the right profession. He also knew he was ready to leave Michigan to pursue work at a bigger firm.

Finding His Niche

Trent set his sights on Portland and interviewed at a handful of firms in the area. He was especially interested in Perkins because of its client profile. Trent wanted to focus on tax work, not audit, but he wanted complex tax work, more than just a seasonal rush of 1040s. Once at Perkins Trent was assigned to the real estate niche, and right away he felt he was in his element.

A cool and reserved guy, Trent gets visibly excited talking about multi-partner LLCs and tax planning for the real estate industry. Real estate development is notoriously complicated. The landscape is always changing, and there are a multitude of beneficial tax provisions to consider and often many parties involved.  The nature of multi-partner LLCs means a single engagement can produce upwards of 30 different tax returns. “The key,” says Trent, “to keeping a project on track that involves so many different entities and tax returns is communication.”

Accounting as a Team Sport

Trent is not the first leader of our real estate niche to extoll the importance of communication. Kimberly Woodside, a co-leader of our real estate practice group, shared similar sentiments when she was interviewed her for her anniversary post earlier this year. Among all the real estate niche leaders, clearly communication is highly valued; managers meet every week; planning for tax season starts in the fall, and everyone knows what everyone else is doing—when and where each domino needs to fall. “The stereotype of an accountant being boring, solitary, just one socially awkward person formulating spreadsheet equations and banging out numbers on a 10-key is totally wrong,” says Trent. “Accounting is collaborative. It’s a team sport.”

Working on a team with really smart people is what Trent enjoys most about Perkins & Co. He never feels like he’s on an island. There are always other people to discuss issues and problem solve with. In particular, Trent looks to Tim Kalberg, shareholder and a co-leader of our real estate niche, as a mentor. “Tim,” Trent says, “has an incredible gift of recall. He sees parallels between cases and can remember exactly which section of the tax code or specific client return to turn to for reference. His memory is encyclopedic and he is a great teacher. Tim has been instrumental in shaping the real estate niche at Perkins and everyone on the team benefits from his expertise.”

We all benefit from Trent’s expertise too. Whether he’s in the office or on the golf course we’re happy to have him on our team. Congratulations on 10 years with Perkins!