Rachel Needham, CPA
Rachel Gillilan (NC License Number 41419) is the kind of person who doesn’t let a perceived weakness prevent her ability to succeed. In fact, when she joined our fraud and forensics team in 2019, she shared something personal–she’s always had horrible vision, wears contacts 24/7, and was so affected by this that she seriously considered becoming an optometrist.
While she’s not a doctor, peering into the eyes of others for clues about how to help them, lucky for us, she’s chosen an accounting career that involves looking closely as fraud and forensic cases. As a certified public accountant, she gathers evidence for our fraud and forensics cases, then analyzes it all so we can piece together “puzzles”, including criminal cases. A classic Type-A personality, Rachel brings serious motivation and drive to her job, along with a high attention to detail, an innate sense of curiosity, and an ambitious apporach to the projects and clients she’s given.
Prior to coming aboard Adam Shay CPA, PLLC, Rachel worked as an assistant controller for a construction firm in Wilmington, playing a support role in everything from processing, payroll to preparing financial reports, paying taxes, managing Quickbooks for the company’s charity and much more. Before that, she was at Assurance Staff, EY in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she gained auditing experience with international clients in addition to domestic public and private companies in the pharmaceutical, medical and biotech industries. Raleigh si also where she attended North Carolina State University, earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting.
Outisde of work, Rachel is and “island girl” at heart. Originally from Wilmington, she has many fond memories of being on her family’s boat, readin ga book with her dad fished, or finding clams in the marsh, then cooking them up with cherished family or friends. Aside from beach and boat time, Rachel honors her health and wellness, committing regularly to her Orangetheory workouts, which she says are tough but totally worth it–and that reminds us of her attitude here with us. No doubt, an accounting career in fraud and forensics can be quite the feat, but as Rachel is discovering, getting to the bottom of a potential crime or probliem solving for clients nets major rewards. And she’s totally up for the challenge!
Rachel’s Why: “Seeing how ‘solving’ a financial crime can have a huge effect on a client, and specifically, helping that person or organization prevent loss or recover huge sums of money.”
Chris Massey, CPA
Chris Massey, CPA (NC License Number 39147) grew up on a farm right outside Newton Grove, NC. His dad taught him from an early age to always work with two hands—in other words, if you aren’t always using both hands you aren’t being as productive as you could be. After all, working smart is just as important as working hard.
His work-smart attitude has stayed with him throughout his life and paid off, playing a role in his professional success. After earning his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Accountancy from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and a Master’s of Accounting from North Carolina State University, Chris landed at Ernst & Young. Here, he learned best practices of the accounting profession and invested countless hours serving high-level clients, dealing with extremely complex and technical tax issues, and managing the tax provision review of large financial statement audits through which he gained a number of skills outside the normal tax-return preparation realm. The experiences there were invaluable, but aspiring to be more of an advocate for his clients, Chris made a shift in his career and came to Adam Shay CPA, PLLC.
With us, Chris prepares business, trust and individual tax returns, engages in strategic tax planning for individuals and organizations alike, provides virtual CFO services. With his clients, he goes beyond simply doing what they ask of him—he tries to empower them with understanding around their financials, particularly because he feels the education system does very little to teach people about financial management and the valuable decision-making skills that support those best practices he’s learned. Consequently, Chris acts as an advocate for clients, going beyond the call of duty to watch out for their needs and help save them money. In fact, he believes that saving tax dollars of any magnitude is what matters, as does delivering equitable tax planning services for a broad base of clients.
As part of our CPA team, Chris brings this wisdom to all of us and regardless of the demands of the day, he’s willing to lend a hand when needed and happy to answer questions. A big fan of curiosity, he’s inquisitive himself and is always making an effort to learn more, seek truth and find answers no matter how challenging or elusive they may be. His positive perspective on life opens doors and puts clients at ease. And what we’ve found is with Chris, we’re better able to provide a continuity of service and care—and that’s important because it makes our business more successful and sustainable in the end.
Chris’s Why: “I love using my skill set to help clients make the best of their tax and financial situations and being a client advocate.”
Olivia Clark, CPA
Olivia Clark (NC License Number 43242) knows her mission in life: to create a positive impact on everyone she encounters. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and then a master’s degree in accounting, both from the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she graduated with honors, she immediately demonstrated to Adam Shay CPA, PLLC that she has the academic fortitude to complement our accounting team. Yet what’s equally if not even more impressionable about Olivia is her service-oriented skills and smarts. She’s a people person, meaning before she dives into any work aspects with her clients, she takes the time to get to know them—whether that’s a bit about their personal lives, profession, business or goals. Building connection up front opens doors to understanding how she can better help and even problem-solve for her clients. Intuitive, empathetic and organized, Olivia has proven she can quickly earn people’s trust, solidifying relationships that enable her to have that positive impact not just on her clients’ needs and goals, but their lives as well.
Since joining our firm, Olivia has ambitiously embraced her responsibilities, which include developing and implementing tax planning strategies and remaining current with tax law through continuing education. She’s also filing client tax returns and then goes the extra mile to helps clients understand those returns, serving as an advisor and educator in that way. For Olivia, one of the best moments on the job is when clients really lean on her for advice and discover the value of her recommendations.
Prior to her career in accounting, Olivia honed her advisory skills and others talents by working in service-oriented jobs, everything from managing a coffee house to tutoring orphans in Brazil. Well-rounded, she’s known for being funny and often the “life of the party.” Yet friends and associates say she also has a serious side—she’s responsible, focused and very determined professionally.
Olivia grew up playing with lots of neighborhood kids, fishing with her dad, and spending time at the family condo in North Myrtle Beach. She loves to bargain shop and tap her right brain, designing and creating invitations, monograms and logos. But above all, Olivia heads to the water whenever she can. Spending time on a boat, on the beach, and by the sea—that’s her true happy place away from work, one that is only made better with her two labs as well as her fiancé, who, by the way, proposed to her in the middle of the ocean during a deep-sea fishing adventure.
Adam Shay CPA, PLLC is delighted to have Olivia on the team. Known for always having Goldfish and Mountain Dew on hand in her office, she’s a solid addition for countless reasons (no pun intended)!
Olivia’s Why: “People + Service. My mission in life is to create a positive impact on everyone I encounter. This profession allows me to combine my love of learning, problem-solving, and innovation with my passion of serving people. I love being able to take something I am good at and create a positive impact on other people. I love helping clients, especially business owners, establish goals and develop strategic plans to achieve them.”
Meridith Belcher, CPA
If you’re looking for an industrious CPA, you’ll find it in Meridith Belcher, CPA (NC License Number 40370). From the time she was a little girl, Meridith set her sights on ambitious, creative undertakings, launching along with her twin sister a play business called “Anything You Need.” Through this undertaking, Meridith pretend-sold mostly cars and houses they spotted in free magazines available in the grocery store racks. Yet, as the company name indicated, she was capable of providing people with anything. Working in partnership, she and her sister conducted interviews, had board meetings, and ran the “company” like a tight ship. And it’s through this childhood business that she first cultivated her love for numbers and record keeping. Later on, she further nurtured those skills, doing the financials for her dad’s auto repair business.
Today, Meridith is an accomplished CPA who brings remarkable perspective and enthusiasm to her industry. After earning a bachelor’s in finance from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), she worked in several fields, building her competency in sales, customer-service and even business management. But seeking “greater fulfillment” in a career, she dug deep and discovered she felt called to accounting. In response, she returned to UNCW to earn her accounting degree and joined Adam Shay CPA, PLLC in 2012.
Since coming aboard, Meridith has proven to be a valuable partner for her clients. She gets energy from meeting new people, sourcing their challenges, and helping them problem-solve to understand their financials and achieve personal and professional goals. What’s more, Meridith views her relationship with clients more like a partnership—and brings that same lens to her role here with us. Because she’s so collaborative (and a self-confessed “Chatty Cathy” who has no problem being the butt of a joke), her favorite part of the day is in the morning. That’s when we have team meetings and get a chance to connect, share successes and offer solutions around any challenges we may have.
Speaking of solutions, Meridith gets a big kick out of contributing new ideas and solutions because she’s a giver at heart. In fact, she has such a generous tendency and passion for sharing that if she had all the money in the world, she says she’d spend it all helping others. She’d pay off the debts of those close to her, buy them cars, homes and other necessities, build a cushion for emergencies, donate to charities, and adopt and provide for animals in need, making room, of course, for her biggest hobby—her three Pomeranian dogs.
Here at Adam Shay CPA, PLLC, Meridith makes a daily contribution, too, by being her smart, hard-working and compassionate self. Having her with us is a triple win. Clients get to experience the her years of experience and the benefit of her partnership. We enjoy her “we-centric” mindset in our workplace culture. And Meridith gets to do what she loves—and feel the daily reward of a job well done.
Meridith’s Why: “Understanding income taxes, how the system works, and IRS or state rules and regulations can be complicated and overwhelming. I really enjoy helping the client understand these areas as well as navigate through all of it!”
Adam Shay, CPA Managing Partner
To be an effective leader, you’ve got to be driven and focused on growth and goals. You must also be a team player—someone who can relate to and motivate your clients and your people while remaining reflective of possibility and innovative in terms of solid solutions.
Adam Shay, CPA (N.C. license #35961) is all of that—and more. As the firm’s managing member and team leader, he’s undoubtedly an accountant who is committed to helping clients make smart financial decisions and legally minimize tax liability. But he’s also a proactive partner in making their fiscal obligations and understanding of that a positive, empowering experience. Among other things, Adam is dedicated to providing efficient and accurate traditional CPA Firm services. Yet he’s equally, if not more, enthusiastic about engaging with clients, especially those who are entrepreneurs, through the firm’s cloud-based accounting solutions and other forward-focused tools and services, such as its Virtual CFO program. His easy-going, open-minded personality puts people at ease, whether they’re meeting with him face-to-face or Skyping with him from another part of the country and world.
Adam earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Virginia. He then went on to get his master’s in business administration from the University of Maryland. In terms of volunteer work, he currently serves on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Aquarium Society and as treasurer of the Supper Optimist Club. He has previously served as an entrepreneur in residence, doing accounting for the SeaHawk Innovation Funds and helping with the Cameron Executive Network at UNCW. He’s also been the treasurer and an executive board member of Surfrider Foundation’s Cape Fear Chapter as well as a board member of the Cape Fear Economic Development Council. Adam attends Port City Community Church and, in his spare time, he enjoys cooking, various outdoor activities, and family time with his wife Sarah, their sons, Wagner and Garrett, and their dog, Echo. No surprise, Adam is an invested, devoted parent who thrives off coaching and supporting his children in their sports, including soccer, basketball and baseball.
Adam’s Why: “It’s simple: I love to help people achieve their full potential. This is reflected in all aspects of life, everything from my work to my family and community service. I believe there is a better way to do accounting and business, yet most entrepreneurs of small to mid-sized companies are under-served in terms of guidance and support. As an experienced entrepreneur, I still get a rush from seeing businesses grow and succeed. This is a huge motivator for me…it keeps things fresh every day and makes it fun to get up every morning.”
Richard Pasquantonio CPA/CFF, CFE, CFDA
There’s no doubt that Richard Pasquantonio, CPA/CFF (N.C. license #33577), CFE, CDFA takes his job very seriously. As one of the firm’s in-house forensic accountants, he is one of only 4,500 such professionals worldwide who provide this highly specialized genre of accounting expertise.
In his complex, yet fascinating work, Richard’s primary role is to assist taxpayers and litigants in gathering the necessary information to resolve their disputes with the government, business partners, employees, family members and/or other parties. Like other fields of forensics, the work is often a painstaking process, requiring Richard to practice patience, uphold integrity, and maintain accuracy and strong ethics on behalf of his client, himself and the firm.
That said, while Richard’s professional niche is rather weighty and serious in nature, you’ll find he is anything but that in person. Among his co-workers, he’s the firm’s “class clown” who regularly provides a good dose of much-appreciated humour, cracking jokes and even playing an occasional office prank. What’s more, in reflecting on his career, Richard often laughs about how it may have been inspired by his curious childhood obsession with TV game shows. In fact, he likes to view each client case less like a problem and more like a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, with all the pieces mixed up and the box was thrown away long ago. Richard’s job is to complete the puzzle, identifying any missing pieces and what the picture would look like if they were there. He analyzes all information, applying relevant laws, regulations and precedent court cases in combination with his education, training, skills and experience. Then, he presents his findings either orally or in a report.
Richard’s experience and puzzle-solving abilities give our professional accounting and tax services a competitive advantage throughout the Southeast and beyond. However, his creativity, passion for solutions, collaborative skills, and incessant sense of humour make him a prize find for the firm, too. Committed to meeting his clients’ needs while demonstrating clear value, Richard is a perfect complement to our talent at Adam Shay CPA.
Of note, Richard holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Pittsburgh. He has volunteered with the North Carolina Association of CPAs as a member of the Young CPA Cabinet, serves as President of the Cape Fear Chapter, and is a member of the NCACPA Fraud Conference Task Force. He also volunteers for the AICPAs as a CFF Task Force member representing North Carolina.
When away from work “puzzles,” Richard likes to think about what else he might become whenever he grows up. Meanwhile, he enjoys free time with his family, his wife, two children and dog, Chance. Some of their favourite pastimes include hiking, camping, fishing, and, of course, playing games whenever the occasion arises.
Richard’s Why: “I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of puzzles and storytelling. So in a sense, forensic accounting is a professional win-win for me. I get to piece together what sometimes seems like an impossible puzzle. Then I tell the story of what happened and how I got my answers. It’s incredibly exciting for me and is a way of sustaining truth in our world.”
Caroline Montgomery, CPA
There are people in life who get their energy and sense of purpose simply by helping others. Caroline Montgomery, CPA (N.C. license #39017), MSA is one such person. While she has all the education and credentials to work as a CPA, she’s truly gifted in her ability to listen to her clients, hear any concerns or fears, see the big picture, and efficiently help them with their needs. This is a talent that’s innate to her; in fact, when she was young, she wanted to be a doctor because of a deep desire to help and heal. Today, she says she’s still helping people, just in a very different way.
Part of what makes Caroline so effective in her job is that she gets that most people don’t like doing and dealing with their taxes and financials. Yet that’s where she shines. In particular, her passion for tax planning and enthusiasm for minimizing client angst and “pain”—both in the form of tax liability and the shear time and effort required to prep and file properly—inspire her daily performance. When it comes to stepping in, rolling up her sleeves, and getting the job done, Caroline excels. She’s not afraid to go the mile to get her clients what’s needed to make their lives better. What’s more, she delivers heartfelt, customized experiences and proactive solutions with a smile.
She’s also an astute problem-solver both for her clients and her team. She supports clients in making informed decisions, whether that’s related to taxes, monthly and year-end financials, bookkeeping or payroll. As well, she thrives off participating in the “Daily Huddles” at work, when her team gathers to discuss current work, challenges, and potential solutions. In the office, she genuinely enjoys lending a helping hand however she can, whether that’s giving tax advice, troubleshooting software, or sharing a bright idea. She’s well balanced when it comes to her technical and personal skill sets, so Caroline’s a great resource for the team.
Caroline earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting from East Carolina University (ECU) and graduated from her advanced studies in 2010. She worked for eight years at Wesley M. Measamer, CPA, P.A. in Greenville, N.C. In 2014, she moved from Greenville to Wilmington, where she worked for another local firm. In July 2015, she joined Adam Shay, CPA, PLLC.
Caroline is a “Carolina girl” at heart…her fondest memories including trips to the breathtakingly beautiful Outer Banks. Today, she still loves going to the beach, as well as attending ECU football games, boating, fishing, travelling and cooking. Also, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Mike, and her dog, Mason.
Caroline’s Why: “It’s rewarding to help people achieve their goals and especially with a process they most likely don’t enjoy doing themselves! I also love the people I work with – this is a great work environment, one that functions like a real team and works together to improve daily, not just do our jobs.”