Alumni Spotlights

Joseph M. Falbo Jr., ’91: Advocating on Behalf of NYS’s CPAs

February 4, 2015 by Lisa McMahon, M.A.'09

For Joseph M. Falbo Jr., CPA, CGMA, ’91, accounting is “far more than number crunching.” He views it as a caring and giving profession, and is determined to promote it as such during his term as president of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants.

“I think this is the greatest profession with the biggest hearted people,” he says. “The amount of things that CPAs do for their communities, the volunteerism and what they give back, goes very much unnoticed. They just do it because it’s a part of who they are and what they do.”

This opportunity to lead one of the nation’s largest state accounting organizations––the first NU alumnus and only the second member from the Buffalo Chapter to do so––also gives Joe the chance to reach out to the younger CPAs and invite them to take an active role in an organization that has served as Joe’s “professional home” since he graduated from NU. He notes that his membership over the years has contributed to his professional success and enabled him to take on leadership roles within the organization, including secretary/treasurer and vice president.

“It’s good for their firms, it’s good for the companies they work for, it’s good for the other younger professionals to have someone to look up to,” he says. “One of my goals will be to engage the younger professionals and let them know that there is a place for them.”

Joe’s initial interest in accounting was born of a desire to run his own business. Both his father, a carpenter by trade, and his mother, a hairdresser, had owned their own businesses, and Joe was inspired to do the same. He found he had an affinity for bookkeeping during high school and decided to pursue accounting at Niagara because he thought it would enable him to pursue his entrepreneurial goals.

It did. By the time he was 30, Joe was a partner in a Niagara Falls-based accounting firm owned by NU alumnus George R. Armitage, CPA, ’54.

Because of its proximity to Canada, Joe found himself serving an increasingly international clientele. He became intrigued with the differences between the U.S.’s tax system and those of countries around the world, and how it significantly impacted the world’s economy. In 2008, when he decided he wanted to focus more deeply on this niche practice, he joined Tronconi Segarra & Associates LLP as a partner. He’s been there ever since, and now works with clients beyond Canada, including Germany, Israel, Great Britain, and the Netherlands.

While Joe acknowledges that there is obviously an element of number crunching to his work, he emphasizes that the opportunity to help business owners successfully manage and grow their businesses is what motivates him each day. “The really good days are when you have interaction with clients and they tell you how much they appreciate what you’ve been able to do for them, how you’ve helped them achieve their goals,” he says.

It’s something that was instilled in him by his parents, who “never let an opportunity to help somebody else pass by,” and strengthened during his years at Niagara and in his professional life.

“So many people gave me opportunities and helped me out along the way,” he says. “It feels good to help someone else. If you miss an opportunity to help someone, you’ve wasted the day.”

This philosophy also led him to run for president of the NYSSCPA, where he can serve the interests of its 29,000 members as well as the public. He is quick to point out that his colleagues at Tronconi Segarra & Associates made it possible for him to take on a role that requires a substantial commitment of time.

“Nothing of significance is achieved without the help of others,” he notes.

During his yearlong term, which began June 1, 2015, Joe is looking forward to advocating on behalf of the profession, as well as mentoring future leaders as a way of paying forward the experience he has enjoyed as a member of NYSSCPA.

“The last six or eight presidents of the society showed an interest in me personally that enabled me to get prepared to do what I’m about to do,” he says. “I hope I can discharge my duties successfully and adequately inspire another person who will come up behind me to accept the challenge.”