Respect. Loyalty. Trust.

wanted to create a practice, grow it as best I can, and es- tablish a long-lasting, re-spectful relationship with my clients.”

Sheppard Avenue and Yonge Street in Toronto is a mix of suburban and downtown space, of wide open streets, gleaming glass skyscrapers and luxury condominiums. It takes forever to walk across the intersection and rush hour is a nightmare, but there are stores and theatres and a Starbucks on every block. As you walk north along Yonge Street, Korean writing symbols appear on many of the signs and advertising, like sub- titles in foreign films. This is the southern edge of North York’s Koreatown, a pop- ular neighbourhood with many new Can- adians, especially so with recent im- migrants from South Korea. Here, on Sheppard Avenue West, is where you’ll find the firm of Younghee Monica Kim, CGA.


Monica was born in Korea and came to Canada more than 30 years ago. She was in her 40s, a stay-at- home mother with three children, when she entered the CGA program of professional studies, so the opportunity to study on a part-time basis while she worked full-time was understandably appealing. “Pretty good” with numbers, she had taken a few ac- counting courses at Humber College, and saw the CGA program as giving her the confidence and commanding the respect that she needed to pursue a career in professional practice.
“I was working for a mid-size public accounting firm of about 40 people. My boss was a CGA, Anne-Marie Nichols [now with the Law Society of Upper Canada], and she was my mentor. She was really, really helpful, building up my career, my training, everything.” At the same time, Monica was learning the tricks of the trade, watching how a professional practice was run. She laughs sheepish- ly when recalling that, when she was admitted into membership in 1993, “the firm gave me a hundred dollars,” but says that her former employers were very accommodating in giving her the time off that she needed to complete her studies.
After rising from internal accountant to controller, Monica began to work on client files, and started bringing in clients from the Korean community. “The clients will be yours,” she recalls saying to her employers, “but I will be responsible for their files. They accepted my idea and promoted me, and we had a big open house for the community. It was very beneficial to their business, but the practical experience helped me out as well.”
Nevertheless, she points to several problems that eventually led her to strike out on her own, in 1996. “In my opinion, the fees they were charging were too high for the type of clients I was
bringing in. And from my point of view, I did all the work and I still needed to get my work reviewed by the partners. That was the agreement, but it took so long, and the fees were so high, that my clients started to complain.”



“When I started out I was a one-woman show. I was nervous, but I had the skills of my CGA training and the experience of knowing how a practice worked from the inside. My clients were loyal. They followed me from my former firm, and I brought in a credit union as a new client. I made money from the very beginning, though in that first year my revenue was only $50,000.”
12 years later, the firm of Younghee Monica Kim CGA is a success, serving approximately 300 corporate and small business clients, preparing more than 1300 personal tax returns, and earning annual revenue of more than $400,000. Her clients are not only from the Korean community but also from the population
at large, ranging from Windsor to Ottawa to Sault Ste. Marie.
Monica markets her business through advertisements in the Korean Daily News and on Korean community cable television. She employs a staff of four full-time employees, one of whom is a student in the CGA program, and she proudly points to two former employees who became CGAs. Like many CGA practitioners, she tempers her enthusiasm for professional practice with words of caution about long hours and the challenges faced by CGAs.



“I do accounting work for two travel agencies,” explains Monica. “Now, the Travel Industry Council of Ontario requires financial statements with a review engagement or auditor’s report signed by a licensed public accountant, regardless of the agency’s size. I could easily do the financial statements but I cannot, and the public accounting firm charges more than I do.” She sighs. “It’s very upsetting. There is no competition. But my clients have stayed with me because of service. They trust me.”
Still, when asked if she would pursue a public accounting licence when CGA Ontario becomes an authorized designated body, Monica is fervent. “Oh, definitely. I want to become a public accountant before I retire. That’s my goal. That’s my dream.”
She goes further. “It would be better for the Korean community as well, because not all public accountants have the practical experience that CGAs have.” For Monica Kim, the issue of service to her community is inseparable from her own aspirations, like so many of the residents at Yonge and Sheppard in Toronto.

Younghee Monica Kim, CGA
Toronto, Ontario