Published August 19, 2014
Volume 22, Number 8

Accountant Focuses on Important Aspects of Career and Life

By Zoe Francis

Dan Thompson learned at a relatively young age that there is far more to life than amassing wealth and possessions.
The successful certified public accountant credits a missionary trip during his college years with keeping him focused on family, friends, faith and travel as he carefully managed his career.
Dan Thompson“It gave me a lot of perspective on life,” Thompson said of his missionary work in Bolivia. “What I saw down there is that they have so little and yet they have so much joy. Their families are so rich with relationships. What I learned is that I want to pursue that in my life. I don’t want to live a materialistic life where things are my treasure. I want God and relationships to be my treasure.”
It is that philosophy of life that has guided Thompson as he kept his accounting business focused on individuals and small businesses that allow him to develop relationships with clients.
“It’s the relationships that I value the most,” he said. “You get much more involved in the lives of the people running the business. When you’re talking about their finances, you talk about their lives and you really get to know them.”
Thompson was born in Santa Barbara, but grew up in several small towns in the East Bay, including Danville, Concord and Pleasanton. His family settled in San Ramon, where Thompson’s parents still live.
While living in San Ramon, Thompson graduated from Berean Christian High School, located in Martinez at the time.
Religion ran deep in the family, which followed the Plymouth Brethren faith. After graduating from high school, Thompson moved to Chicago for a year of Bible school.
“I had a year of trying to find myself,” he said. “I came back and spent a couple of years at Diablo Valley College. Then I went back to Chicago and went through a training program to do volunteer work for a Christian mission in LaPaz, Bolivia. It’s in the middle of South America.”
During his two-year missionary stint, “we worked with an interdenominational Bible school and a local church. It was really cool. We got to travel throughout the country and visit other churches.  You’re really idealistic when you go into a third-world country. You think you’re going to help people, but then you find out they’re helping you way more than you’re helping them. It was a wonderful education.”
Thompson was captivated by the people, culture and landscape of Latin America. That led him to major in Latin American studies when he returned home to study at California State University, Hayward (now East Bay).
“I thought I might end up spending my life down there (in Latin America),” he said. “But after the first quarter or two, I began to realize that this was a lot of fun, but it was more like I was making my major a hobby. I wasn’t really learning any skills. I took an accounting class to test the waters. I really did enjoy it. I realized that I could learn a skill that could be marketable.”
While in college, Thompson met his future wife, Kim Marie, a Livermore native majoring in nursing at California State University, Humboldt. The couple married in 1980, after Kim Marie had graduated and while Thompson was still in college.
“Before we had kids, I still had this dream of living in Latin American,” he admitted. “I took her down to Columbia where some friends were living. We had a great time, but she knew and made it very clear that she could not live in that culture.”
They compromised on letting Thompson’s adoration of Latin America inspire a passion for world travel throughout their lives.
“We’ve been to a lot of places, which is fun,” he said.
The couple lived in Hayward before buying a fixer-upper in Dublin, staying there a couple of years before moving to Pleasanton in 1986 to the house they still call home. Along the way, sons Stephen and Brian were born.
Thompson graduated in 1981 with a degree in business administration with an emphasis on accounting. He quickly landed a job with the state department of health, auditing hospitals and health clinics throughout Northern California. It was a job he held for nine years while also becoming a certified public accountant (CPA).
He turned down a promotion that would move the family to Sacramento, opting instead to work for a small computer and accounting practice in South San Francisco.
“I worked there for about eight years and did the horrible commute,” he said. “It was brutal. At the time, not only was the commute tough, but the long hours and being away from home so much was taking a toll on the family.”
Thompson became friends with another CPA, Matt DePretis, when they both attended Valley Community Church. The two professionals were looking for a change in life, so “we decided to throw our hat into the ring and start our own firm. We started that about 14 years ago.”
Thompson & DePretis took off, employing a staff of a half dozen people with a few more during the busy tax season.
“It’s a lot of work, but there’s something special about it when it’s your own,” Thompson said. “You can make the business however you want it. It’s definitely more work and more challenges. Matt used to reference it to a roller coaster. It’s exciting and scary at the same time.”
While the business was successful, the partners had different visions for the future. DePretis wanted to pursue bigger firms and more high-income clients while Thompson remained focused on the smaller, personal touch.
“We found it increasingly difficult to pursue both visions in the same firm,” he noted. “We decided I would spin off and do my own business. Matt is a great guy. He’s a friend for life. It was a very harmonious parting of the ways.”
Dan Thompson Accounting Services, Inc., opened in Hacienda in November 2013, affording Thompson the ability to maintain the personal relationships he relishes in his career and life.
“It’s been great,” he said. “It’s fun to have a client who comes to you as a new client and after awhile, they evolve into being a friend. It’s really precious.”
Not only does Thompson provide skilled accounting services, but he treasures the role of relieving stress from a client’s life.
“Usually, people who are looking for a CPA are experiencing some kind of stress,” he said. “They’re paying too much in taxes, or they’re having trouble with their bookkeeping. What I like to do is relieve the stress. It’s the relationship and the stress relief that I enjoy.”
Along the way, the family started attending St. Innocent Orthodox Church in Livermore.
“I love history, and I found more of a historic connection with the Orthodox church,” he explained. “I felt drawn.”
Thompson and his wife continue to travel, most recently taking a three-week excursion to Spain and Portugal.
“We loved the people, the food, the wine, the history, the beauty,” he said. “It’s all intoxicating.”
Their travels have taken them to South Africa, Italy, France and even Moscow, where Thompson visited his eldest son while he was studying abroad. They enjoyed a Mediterranean cruise for their 25th wedding anniversary, which included a stop in Istanbul.
Locally, the family enjoys camping, hiking and generally spending quality time together. Thompson credits it all to his missionary work from his younger days.
“The whole experience gave me an awareness of how important relationships are,” he said. “I’ve carried that through the rest of my life. (My goal) is to experience God in every dimension of life, which includes family, work, travel. Faith has been really key throughout my life. I feel very blessed to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He’s made a huge difference for me.”
The website for Dan Thompson Accounting Services is under construction. The firm’s phone number is 925-425-9307.

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