If taxes are one of life’s certainties, then you might as well make the best of it and hire the best accountant. These trained professionals can ensure that your taxes are done correctly so you can cross “worry” off your list of things to do.
Working in the Bay Area since 1973, Sandy Stadtler knows his clients well. A principal accountant with Rothstein Kass, he understands that “money is a very important thing for people” and sees his job as helping to keep it safe. Stadtler also has a degree in Hebrew literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
Always good with numbers, Steven De Graff became a CPA and moved to the Bay Area more than 35 years ago. De Graff prides himself on the amount of time and effort he spends on every client. The personal relationships are one of the things he enjoys most about the business. Clients “come in and we spend time checking out the family,” he says. “It’s a very, very pleasant experience.”
CPA Barry E. Goldstein won in the East Bay region.
Barry E. Goldstein
Steven De Graff
Becoming a lawyer is something many Jewish mothers recommend, and for good reason. Lawyers help people. These Readers’ Choice winners clearly have earned the respect of their clients.
With her background in social work and psychology, Barbara Moser decided she could put her skills to excellent use as a lawyer. “I just have a way of counseling and strategizing with people that comes from my psychology background,” she says. Moser, who specializes in family law, recently was voted one of the top 50 women lawyers in Northern California. She recently co-chaired a gala for the organization Kids’ Turn, which provides support for children whose parents divorce.
Wayne Lampert went into law school not sure whether he even wanted to be a lawyer. After he started working in the field, though, he realized how much he loved practicing law. Now in private practice and working primarily with individuals, Lampert enjoys the personal interactions that come with the territory. He believes one of his roles is to reduce clients’ stress. “I find solutions that people wouldn’t find themselves,” he says. “I’m directly helping people.”
Tax law and estate planning are two of the many areas Paul Roskoph is active in. In addition to running the Paul H. Roskoph Professional Corp., he remains very involved in the community. Roskoph has served on numerous committees, from Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills to his alma mater, Ohio State University.
Barbara W. Moser
Wayne A. Lampert
Peninsula/ South Bay
Paul H. Roskoph
When you need help deciding how to earn, save and invest your money, these folks will listen and help you figure it all out. A good relationship with your financial adviser is a must.
Guy Ben Ari, a financial adviser with Edward Jones, is proud of the personal relationships he develops with clients. “I know my clients on a personal level,” says Ben Ari. “I’m not sitting out of a cubicle making calls to people I don’t know.” Some of those bonds continue outside the workplace — Ben Ari has even been invited to some of his clients’ social events.
In its current form, ELM Advisors is only six years old, but the group has maintained its strong clientele ever since principal Elana Lieberman’s father, Mark, started providing financial services 30 years ago. “Many of our relationships span decades,” says principal Lorne Abramson. Lieberman and Abramson started in the institutional investment world, but they like working with people on a personal level. “We take great satisfaction in working with individuals,” says Abramson. “I enjoy getting thanked by clients for helping them meet their goals.”
Guy Ben Ari
Peninsula/ South Bay
Real Estate Agent
Looking for a new home or interested in selling your existing one? Want to get a place in the suburbs to raise the family or find an artist’s loft in the city? It’s time to call a real estate agent and figure out your next move.
Buying or selling a home usually is the biggest financial transaction in people’s lives, and they should have a real estate agent focused on taking care of their needs. Debbie Herzfeld is that agent for many happy clients. Herzfeld’s family has been a presence in San Francisco since 1898, and she has been working in the city for almost 30 years. “The best part of my job is helping people make changes in their lives and making it a smooth and easy transition,” she says.
Deborah Lopez has been helping people buy and sell homes in San Francisco since 1976. Lopez, who is also an attorney, persistently advocates for her clients. “I help people achieve their real estate goals,” she says. Lopez’s greatest joy is in helping people find the home of their dreams. “I love having my clients call me and tell me how happy they are with their new home,” she says.
Dana Cohen has been a real estate agent in the East Bay for 10 years. “Seventy-five percent of my business is referrals,” she says. The business is in her blood: Her mother was a real estate agent, too. Cohen gets the most satisfaction when she sees “the joy and look of a first-time homebuyer when they get the keys to their home.”
Celia Concus has worked in Bay Area real estate for almost 20 years and has become an expert at listening to her clients and meeting their needs. “The best parts are finding the right property for a buyer or getting a seller’s home ready” for prospective buyers, she says.
Shirley Kraus has been on the Peninsula for 17 years, making a special effort to understand what her clients want and need so they feel comfortable. “Everybody I work with is interesting, because everybody has their unique desires and goals,” says Kraus. “My main priority in the way I conduct my business is service.”
Known as the “Wine Country Realtor,” Mara Kahn enjoys “meeting people and telling them about the area that I live in that I love,” she says. Based in Sonoma, Kahn has worked in real estate for four years and says the job’s challenges satisfy her natural curiosity. Most of all, she likes to work with others. Being a real estate agent “is a good way to get to know people,” she says.
Paragon Real Estate Group
Deborah Lopez, Paragon Real Estate Group
Dana Cohen, The Grubb Co.
Celia Concus, Marvin Gardens Real Estate
Shirley Kraus, Intero Real Estate Services
Mara Kahn, Wine Country Group
You’ve finally found the house of your dreams. Congratulations! Now how are you going to buy it? It’s time to talk to a mortgage broker and learn about your options.
For 30 years, Susan Thomas has been helping people buy homes. She believes strongly in efficiency and follow-through. “We keep our word,” she says. Thomas values her work. “You make a difference in people’s lives,” she says. “For a lot of people you make a difference in whether they can own a home.”
Some mortgage brokers might focus more on the numbers side of the business, but Alan Garber places high value on the relationships he forms with his clients. As a member of the Garber Team in Larkspur and a mortgage broker for 20 years, he makes applying for mortgages and loans a simple and painless process. “I enjoy the opportunity to speak with folks and help folks,” Garber says.
Sheryl Klein won in the Peninsula/South Bay region.
Susan Thomas, La Salle Financial Services
Sheryl Klein, Crescent Capital
Alan Garber, The Garber Team
The commercials ask: Wanna get away? The answer is: Yes! The question is: How? With the help of these travel agents, that’s how. If you want to go, they can help you get going.
A love of history and a passion for travel led Andrea DeGraff to her long career as a travel agent. For 31 years, her goal has been to create memorable trips designed for each client’s needs. She’s helped plan vacations to such exotic places as Madagascar, Brunei and Timbuktu. DeGraff, who once taught history in middle school, also leads trips to such locales as Argentina and Peru.
The increasing use of online booking for vacations doesn’t faze Les Burger, president and co-owner of Menlo Park-based Ladera Travel with his wife, Nancy. “The Internet will never replace the service side of the industry,” he says. The agents at Ladera have deep knowledge of destinations and can get customers the best deal and the best location. “Our business has grown almost completely by referral,” Burger says. “We have great clients who are a delight to work with.”
Customer service is the foundation of Tamalpais Travel in Larkspur. “Our clients come back to us and refer us frequently,” says president and owner Cindy Prosterman. Along with her associate Michal Ron Reihanian, Prosterman and her staff book vacations, tours and cruises to such locales as Bhutan, New Guinea and Botswana. The best part of being a travel agent, she says, is when customers return feeling thrilled about their journeys. “People frequently call me and tell me what a great trip they had,” says Prosterman.
Andrea DeGraff, Travel Wizards
People worry about their stuff; it’s only natural. Insurance agents play a special role in relieving that worry by making sure everything that matters to you is covered.
The Jaffe family has helped people with their home, life, business and auto insurance for 80 years, ever since Adam Jaffe’s grandfather founded Jaffe-Schlossberg, Inc. “We’re service-oriented,” says Jaffe, company vice president. “We always put our clients’ needs first.” The staff enjoys getting to know the clients they serve. “The best part is helping people,” says Jaffe.
A desire to work and live in the same community led Ruth Stroup to become an insurance agent, a career that combines her business and financial skills. Stroup enjoys helping the community she knows and loves. “I care about my clients,” she says. “I really think about how the insurance supports people’s financial lives.”
The winner in the Peninsula/South Bay region is Rick Gross. He provides professional advisers and their clients with life insurance for estate and business succession planning, sale of existing policies, policy reviews, IRC Section 1035 exchanges and charitable gift planning strategies.
Ruth Stroup, Farmers’ Insurance Group
Richard A. “Rick” Gross, Life Insurance and Charitable Services