Speaking Your Language: Multilingual Weiss staff connect with clients
Sometimes speaking English alone isn’t enough to make complex business and tax topics clear to clients.
That’s why Weiss & Company LLP offers bilingual services in several languages, including Spanish, Polish, Hebrew, Hindi, Korean, Russian, Romanian, Turkish and Kyrgyz. In fact, over a dozen of its staff members are bilingual.
“We don’t make clients fit in a box,” says managing partner Dan Fortman. “Accounting is a language of its own, and our clients come to us to help decipher that language. We want to make it as easy as possible for them.”
Translating documents from Spanish
Having a native speaker who understands cross-cultural issues to help with business and tax services is key to creating successful outcomes for clients. For senior accountant Yesenia Malagon, who was born in Mexico and moved to the Chicago area with her family when she was 12, speaking Spanish with clients is a way to make them feel comfortable. She will often help translate documents or instructions and has used her bilingual abilities to translate across borders.
“With many Spanish-speaking clients, I still communicate in English, but if their company is in Mexico, I can reach out to their accountants in Spanish,” she says.
Offering business services in Hindi
That comfort level is also important in the Indian community, says Jay Patel, a senior accountant who joined Weiss in November. Patel was raised in India but has lived in the United States for 42 years. He regularly consults with clients in his two native languages — Hindi and Gujarati — helping them with business and accounting consulting services.
“Sometimes it makes a very big difference,” he says. “Speaking in their native language makes people feel comfortable and open. People in the community say, ‘Go to Jay and Jay will help you.’”
Providing tax and family services in Polish
Because at least five of Weiss’s staff speak Polish, the firm offers an array of services to the Polish-speaking community, including tax, accounting, and family office services. Magda Fitzgerald, client services administrator, was born in Poland and immigrated to Chicago with her family as a teenager. After spending more than five years in banking administration, translating rules and regulations for Polish-speaking clients, she is well-versed in making clients feel comfortable.
Eve Fugiel, CPA, a senior manager in the firm’s assurance and tax services departments, is a native Polish speaker who also speaks a little Spanish.
“There’s always a benefit to providing services in a second language,” she says. “The more people you have who speak different languages to clients, the better.”
Connecting across borders with Hebrew
Bryna Kurtz, CPA, was born in the United States but has traveled to Israel more than 40 times. She has studied Hebrew throughout her life and now, as a senior manager with more than 20 years of experience, she communicates in the language with several clients who live in Israel and have tax documentation that they need translated to comply with their U.S. tax requirements.
“It’s not only just the language — it’s translating terminology, making sure numbers are translated correctly,” she says. “You also get credibility with the client by communicating in their language.”
Making clients feel comfortable speaking Korean
Lisa Hahm, CPA, MST, was born and raised in Korea before moving to Chicago with her family as a teenager. As a senior manager, she finds that people in the Korean community often ask her for advice. But many immigrants only seek out accounting firms run by people who speak their primary language, she says.
“People should know that you don’t have to be fluent in English to connect with us,” she says. “We can provide services in their own language.”
Taking all client needs into consideration
Whether working with clients in the Chicago area or around the world, Weiss continually works to meet clients’ needs under each specific circumstance.
“Our goal is to make clients feel comfortable,” Greenstein says, “regardless of what language they speak. We give all clients the same type of consideration.”
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