Finance and accounting is a huge industry – in fact, the finance/accounting industry global market value is projected to reach $93.2 billion by 2028. Within this sector, there are several very different aspects, few more different than nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses. For a finance expert to be able to navigate both is a huge accomplishment.
Ting Song knows that better than most. She’s a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) based in California, and is a quickly emerging name in the accounting field. She has an impressive blend of expertise from both ends of the spectrum. She’s been serving as a director at First Republic Investment Management, and her journey is powered by ambition, perseverance, and adaptability.
Song’s career in the accounting industry started at the University of Liverpool, where she pursued her Bachelor’s in Accounting and Finance. From there, she traveled halfway across the world to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, earning her Master of Science in Accounting. These formative educational experiences laid the foundation for a successful career marked by stints in various accounting roles.
Song’s early career saw her working at a few public accounting firms in Los Angeles, preparing tax returns and conducting audit work for various non-profit organizations. This initial exposure to the non-profit sector allowed her to cultivate a deep understanding of the unique financial landscapes and regulatory requirements nonprofits face.
Yet, her commitment to the non-profit sector didn’t wane. While studying at Loyola Marymount University, Song worked at the budget department at the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. Here, she had an opportunity to blend her financial acumen with her dedication to public service, managing accounts reconciliation, auditing travel expense reports, and even training staff in accounting software use.
Later, Ting moved on to work at Jones & Associates where she provided accounting and consulting services to numerous big name non-profit organizations.
“Accounting needs for nonprofit organizations significantly differ from for-profit businesses due to their unique operational characteristics and regulatory requirements,” Song explains. “Nonprofits primarily rely on grants, donations, and fundraising activities, which means they need specialized accounting practices to track and report revenue from different sources, each with its own stipulations.”
She adds that nonprofits must demonstrate fiscal responsibility and transparency to their donors, constituents, and regulatory agencies. “So nonprofit accounting involves meticulous tracking of funds to ensure they are used for the intended purpose (fund accounting), compliance with various financial reporting standards like FASB ASC 958, and preparation of specific financial statements such as the Statement of Functional Expenses,” Song states. “This is in stark contrast to for-profit businesses, which focus more on income, expenses, and profitability to maximize shareholder value.”
Transitioning into the for-profit sector, Song joined First Republic Investment Management. Rising rapidly through the ranks from Senior Associate to Director, she led and supervised an accounting team managing alternative investment assets. Her role involved a wide spectrum of responsibilities, from oversight of accounting and operations for alternative investment funds to managing investor data and records.
“In moving from nonprofit to for-profit accounting, you transition from a mission-driven to a profit-driven paradigm,” Song says. “It’s not just about learning new financial protocols but also adapting to a different organizational culture. Understanding the objective of financial reporting in each sector and the differences in regulatory requirements is critical.”
Song is skilled at implementing new systems and procedures to streamline operations. Under her leadership, her team continues to excel in handling various accounting and operational responsibilities for alternative investments funds.
Song’s ability to effectively blend her non-profit and for-profit expertise is a testament to her adaptability and broad knowledge base. Her experience across the two sectors has equipped her with a comprehensive understanding of different regulatory environments, accounting practices, and financial management strategies.
“My mantra is stay calm, stay loose,” she shares. “A resilient and determined mental attitude is a key differentiator in the business landscape. It empowers individuals to face adversity, make bold decisions, and adapt to change, enabling them to excel and thrive in the competitive and dynamic world of business.”
In a world where lines between nonprofit and for-profit sectors are increasingly blurred, professionals like Ting Song, who can navigate both with ease and expertise, are an invaluable asset. Her journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring accountants and financial professionals. It’s a testament to the fact that with a resilient attitude, adaptability, and a commitment to lifelong learning, one can thrive in any sector they choose to venture into.
“Accounting isn’t just about numbers,” Song says. “It’s about understanding the unique financial landscapes of different organizations, ensuring compliance, and contributing to their overall growth and success.”
And Ting Song, with her blend of nonprofit and for-profit expertise, is doing exactly that, leaving an indelible mark in the world of finance and accounting.