Monica Uscategui is a managing partner and lead of the tax department at Greenlight Financial, an accounting firm located in Miami, FL that has been around for over 16 years. In fact, Monica was the second-ever hire for the company where she quickly made a name for herself as a tax guru.
Monica attended the University of Miami with the intention of landing a career in the music industry; working as an associate at a local music shop assisting customers with sheet music and instrument purchases. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Business and Entertainment Industries. During her senior year, she interned at a local digital media music company.
In this role, Monica was able to apply her education to the work, dealing primarily with music royalties. As she quickly absorbed the role and took on more responsibilities, she crossed paths with Gerry Mujica who would eventually acquire her for his company, Greenlight Financial.
At the time, Monica had no idea that is where her career trajectory would begin. In her first few years at Greenlight as a bookkeeper, she focused on building a book of business that led the company growth in its first decade. Soon she would be included in client tax meetings where she learned all the intricacies of tax code and being an accountant. She attributes working with other CPAs to providing her with a new perspective on how she approached her job.
It became evident that Monica had a propensity for data analysis and understanding and interpreting financial data, particularly within the income statement and balance sheet. As a bookkeeper, she recalls that as she would review financials, she would notice herself asking questions about what could trigger an audit or if there were any additional tax strategies to save money.
Monica highlights that part of being a great accountant is being aware that there is always something new to learn. Unlike bookkeeping, tax laws are constantly changing, so staying up-to-date on those changes by consistent education is imperative to one’s success in the industry. Because of this, Monica stresses the importance of having a good strategy when it comes to working on an individual’s tax return. “No two clients are alike,” she says, “and you have to think critically and plan ahead.”
As leader of the tax department, she also spearheaded a new sector within Greenlight that focuses specifically on tax planning and corporate structure. Because one of her strongest skills in finance is asset protection—identifying red flags and restructuring a client’s assets to protect them from creditor’s reach—she was able to easily assume this role. Now, tax planning has become an essential aspect of Greenlight’s services portfolio, helping many high-earning individuals lower their tax liabilities as much as possible to save them the most amount of money possible. This is one of Monica’s proudest accomplishments in her career.
Monica’s experience in music business, continued education in various industries, and accounting skills have enabled her to broaden the abilities of the Greenlight Financial Tax department. The tax team is able to approach tax planning, preparation and recurring transactions with a customized strategy. Today, Greenlight Financial specializes in financial services for the following niches and more:
Over the years, Monica has grown the tax department exponentially and manages a mostly all-women team of bookkeepers and CPAs. She believes one should never be afraid to speak up and ask questions, that’s how she got to where she is today. Monica also attributes her success at Greenlight to a major factor: value. She says “whatever you end up doing within the broad realm of accounting, make yourself valuable to your clients and your peers. If you can prove to your clients you are adding value to their business, they will never leave you.”