As part of our series, CRE Future Leaders, we caught up with Brett Stetson, senior manager at Plante Moran. Stetson leads a team within Plante Moran’s real estate practice that offers a variety of audit and tax services for the firm’s clients.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
I grew up in Barrington, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago. I earned my bachelor’s degree in accounting and pre-business law from Ohio University. While at Ohio I walked on to the men’s swimming and diving team and was a four-year varsity athlete winner when I graduated.
When you were young, what did you aspire to be?
When I was young, I loved all things math and thought I would follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a banker. However, that changed quickly after my first college accounting course. I loved everything about that course and I have not looked back since.
How did you get your start in the industry?
Starting as a staff accountant in a midmarket firm, you are assigned to clients in various industries. During my first tax season, I had the opportunity to work with one of firm’s real estate developer clients. I enjoyed every aspect of the engagement and from that point forward, I sought out additional opportunities in the industry.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
Ira Zorn, a partner in the Plante Moran real estate group, has been a key factor to my success. Throughout my career, he has provided me opportunities to develop my technical skills and shown me the value of client service while providing numerous challenges along the way for me to grow.
What does a day in the life of Brett Stetson look like?
My day always starts early with my two sons who rise at dawn. From there, my day can vary based on the time of year. During tax season, I typically visit my clients throughout the week and work with my teams to ensure the audit work is running smoothly. Outside of tax season, I focus on mentoring our younger staff, checking in with existing clients and networking to develop relationships throughout the industry.
What do you like most about your job?
The best part about my job is the variety. Whether it is assisting clients with accounting and tax advice on buy/sell transactions, mentoring our younger staff or out networking at an industry event, each day is different from the previous. I enjoy the opportunities and challenges that I face on daily basis.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you haven’t already?
Going forward I would like to continue to grow Plante’s real estate practice and be known as an industry leader. We have a lot of bright individuals working in our group who can truly make a difference and I’m proud to be part of the team.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
My wife, Katie, and I have two little boys and third on the way. The majority of my time away from the office is spent with them whether it is swimming, playing at the park or with Legos. If I get the time, I enjoy golfing and cooking.
What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? Where do you hope to go next?
My favorite place I have traveled to is Australia. Earlier in my career, I participated in a secondment program and I lived in Australia for four months. During that time, I traveled all over the country and got to dive in the Great Barrier Reef. I’m hoping my next trip is to Olympic National Park.
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
I would like to see Aaron Tucker, of Tucker Development, answer these questions given his unique experience as a second-generation leader in a family development company.