An East Bay Accountant Remembers His Roots - Palma Financial

Compared to most Nicaraguan families, Miguel Palmas was economically advantaged. Rental income from family land enabled his mother to accomplish her primary objectives – providing milk for her four children daily, serving meat once per week, and, most importantly, giving her children the freedom to pursue an education. But when asked in a recent interview whether he was poor growing up, he fondly recalls simpler times. I may have been poor from the traditional American perspective,” Palma said, “but I wasnt deprived of a great childhood. I was able to play outdoors and share experiences I wouldnt trade for all the money in the world.

Success didn’t come easily to Miguel, and while his childhood was a happy one it was also short. At age 11, the political unrest in Nicaragua escalated into Civil War. Educated youth we’re considered a threat to the military regime and Miguel’s mother was forced to send her oldest son to the safety of her cousins home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although he was able to return a year later, the political instability forced him to the U.S. for good at the age of 14. At 16, Palma was married, a high school dropout, and the primary breadwinner for several family members who had also left their homes in Nicaragua.

Initially he took whatever jobs he could find – typically as a cleaning person or security guard – but the future was anything but promising. Still he never lost sight of his mother’s lessons about the importance of education or his belief in himself. I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant, he said, but I always felt I would be successful. Although I have to admit that, given the situation I was in, I began to wonder how that ever was going to happen.”

When his cousin’s business began to flourish, it gave Miguel both a good paying job and, more importantly, the opportunity he needed to pursue his education. By age 20, Palma had a $50,000 per year job as a controller in the family business and a coveted accounting degree from California State University East Bay.

Life was good, especially when compared to his plight just a few years earlier. But Miguel had higher aspirations and, acting on the advice of a college professor, gave up his controller position for an entry-level position at a Big Six accounting firm at half his former salary. After eight years climbing the ladder at prestigious Deloitte and Touche, he still felt like he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing and made what he calls the best move of his life. In 1998, Palma opened an accounting practice in San Jose, CA. In 2010, he moved his firm, Palma Financial Services, Inc. to his current East Bay location in Dublin, CA, 94568.

While Miguel is clearly a rare talent his accomplishments are an extraordinary example of what is possible with commitment, hard work, and sacrifice. He attributes part of his success to his ability to empathize with his clients and to what he calls, the mother-test. I look at everyone on the other side of the table from me as if they were my mother, and I treat them in the manner in which I would want her to be treated.