CPA advocates for up-and-coming entrepreneurs
Story by Richard Massey
The rapidly changing demographics of Austin inspire Eric Pierre '03. The metroplex's population is now at an estimated 2.3 million and counting, growing by more than half a million residents during the past decade. Famous residents like cyclist Lance Armstrong and singer/songwriter Willie Nelson are now joined by business magnates like Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, who recently moved the electric vehicle and clean energy company's assembly plant and battery factory to the Texas capital.
Like Musk and Pierre, many of those moving to Austin are emigrating from California. And it's that demographic — young, affluent, entrepreneurial and mindful of their enviable bottom lines — to which Pierre wishes to appeal.
First and foremost, Pierre is an entrepreneur. And it's in that role, as CEO of Pierre Accounting, that he hopes to achieve his biggest accomplishment — serving the needs of his clients while also inspiring minorities to pursue and achieve careers in accounting, finance, law and other distinguished professions.
"I believe Austin is positioned to be the next super city with all the movement from California, New York and other states with high state income taxes," Pierre said. "As the Texas capital continues its metamorphosis, we hope to fill the role of trusted advisor for those moving to Austin from out of state. Like them, some of us have relocated, so we know what it's like to be the new kid on the block."
At 6 feet, 8 inches tall, he may be among the more imposing certified public accountants in the nation. Having endured the struggles of 2020, when his business, like so many others, suffered from COVID-19, Pierre is now fully seasoned by, and aware of, the ways of the world: pivot, be patient and good things will come your way.
Coming to SFA from Katy, Pierre had the size, and possibly the talent, to play basketball for the Lumberjacks, but fear kept him from trying out. He eventually found the courage to follow his dream, and after graduation played for the American Basketball Association for a brief period. He said not following his dream sooner is his biggest regret.
Don't compare yourself to others, and embrace the process. Being an entrepreneur is going to stretch and challenge you. - Eric Pierre '03
Pierre, now 41, spent more than a decade working for large companies like Deloitte, McDermott, Abbott Laboratories and Team Industrial Services. He didn't like the pace and said the politics could be toxic, so he decided to start his own business.
"I believe my purpose is to be similar to what John the Baptist did for Jesus — prepare the way for someone greater," Pierre said. "I do believe that being successful will help encourage and raise people from my community to do even bigger and better things than I have. I hope someday to be able to read, or watch on TV, someone saying, ‘Eric Pierre's success inspired me to get to where I am today.'"
Pierre's inspirational mission started in 2014, when he opened his own accounting firm serving clients part time in Houston. Today, he's devoted full time to his business, which has grown to include offices in San Diego, Los Angeles and Austin, with Pierre toggling between California and Texas.
The son of Haitian immigrants, Pierre draws his inspiration from the Bible and the Haitian Revolution, a successful 13-year slave rebellion against the French empire. He has traveled the world, visiting Mexico, Iceland, Egypt, Jordan, Japan, China, Taiwan, Australia and Europe, witnessing firsthand the vast differences in cultures and economies. He quotes civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights activist Malcolm X.
He most admires his parents, Les and Rose, who came to the U.S. with nothing. "I learned my work ethic from them," Pierre said.
Les, also a CPA, and Rose, who worked odd jobs and later stayed home to raise two children, sacrificed so their children could have a better life. "They paid a heavy price for me to be where I am today," Pierre said. "It's easy to sell yourself short because of insecurities and wondering if someone will do business with you. I learned I needed to believe in myself and God almighty to attract clients, and if I did that, I would appeal to the right kind of people."
Pierre Accounting is a 10-person firm specializing in, as Pierre likes to say, "the protection and growth of a client's financial legacy by providing expert navigation, an abundance of leverage and a solution to the problem of time."
Pierre was recently included in a list of 100 "must follow tax Twitter accounts for 2021" by Forbes.com.
Due to the pandemic, the firm utilized both the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan to help navigate the recent economic turbulence. It also pivoted to offer advisory services, a move that is paying off. Pierre said he's in the process of partnering with Advisors Equity Group to enter into life insurance and investments.
In addition to diversifying his business, Pierre points out that diversity among his staff members also is important to the firm's success.
"Varied perspectives are crucial when we need to develop solutions and ideas," Pierre said. "By employing people from different ethnicities, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds, we're able to serve clients around the world. A member of our team is likely to relate to you beyond the surface level."
Relating to people is a top priority for Pierre, especially when it comes to encouraging others to seek out and live their entrepreneurial dreams.
"I've learned not to let anything stop me," Pierre said. "You must accept that some failure is likely, and you won't be an overnight success. So, surround yourself with the right people. Don't compare yourself to others, and embrace the process. Being an entrepreneur is going to stretch and challenge you. You will become a different person, and that's good for you. Learn to take enjoyment in your journey."