Spotlight On: Mary Beth Tarter, Principal, Frankel, Loughran, Starr & Vallone

Spotlight On: Mary Beth Tarter, Principal, Frankel, Loughran, Starr & Vallone

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read June 2020 Many of the nation’s largest capital operators are increasingly moving headquarters and operations to South Florida to take advantage of the business and tax advantages available in the Sunshine State. As a result, the region is starting to transform its reputation as a playground to be recognized as an environment for serious business, Mary Beth Tarter, the regional head of tax advisory and accounting services firm Frankel, Loughran, Starr & Vallone, told Invest: Palm Beach.


What main services does the firm provide in the Florida market?

We are a tax advisory and accounting firm. Our clients are primarily in the financial services industry, such as hedge funds, venture capital, private equity and distressed debt. We also do a lot of commercial real estate. 


I work on the individual side of the practice, so I work with fund principals and fund managers, helping with compliance and advisory. We look at their estate planning, trust, gifts, private foundations, all those tools that the high-net-worth group uses.


We’ve been here for three years, and we expect to continue growing, to continue expanding our staff within the next six to eight months.


What are the particular opportunities that South Florida offers for the kind of clients your firm specializes in?


Our firm has always had connectivity to South Florida, because the ultra-high-net-worth community will have vacation homes here. But it really started in 2017, with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was the most sweeping tax law change we’ve had since 1986. Hedge funds and private equity funds could stand to lose millions because of the deductions that were not allowed at the individual level, even at the partnership level. It got to the point where some of them looked at it very analytically, and recognized that moving to Florida could save them $1 million a year because of the tax situation, and so they moved.


Over the course of 2018 and 2019, I think our firm handled more residency planning for our clients than we did in the previous 24 years. Many of them did it from an analytical standpoint, while for others, it was just the impetus that they needed: they decided that now was the time.


The wonderful part of already having connectivity is that it was seamless for our clients. Now we are here, boots on the ground, and that’s very important for us. They expect a certain level of service and we did not want any disruption to that.


People are also starting to recognize that Florida is not just a playground. This is a very serious business area as well. The median age of people moving down here is younger, and that speaks tremendously to the local commerce, the lifestyles that people want for their families, for their businesses. There are so many companies relocating or expanding down here, and of course, taking advantage of the fact that it is, in a lot of cases, tax driven.


Has that recognition created a new environment for investors in Florida?


It has. New York is rebalancing its budget because Carl Icahn is moving to Miami. New Jersey is rebalancing its budget because David Tepper left. They are coming to Miami to be part of the hedge fund community there, which is amazing.


We’ve actually just created another division, with a gentleman who has been in the hedge fund community for the last 25 years. He is Latin by birth and is looking to expand and help those startup funds, even those that are coming from Latin America as well. A big part of our clientele also has international connectivity.


How do you see the reactivation of the commercial real estate industry after COVID-19 is left in the rear-view mirror?


I think the real estate industry is going to be a little stalled until people can get outside again. Then they are going to start taking advantage of the opportunities they have been denied over the last couple of months. I truly believe that for anybody who has the available cash, for the most part, our clients among them, we will see an increase of activity in both commercial and residential real estate because you weren’t allowed to do it. 


All companies, not just those in commercial real estate, need to be really thoughtful about what they do in the future, especially those people who have taken the stimulus loans, such as the PPP loans. You have certain requirements that you have to certify in order to go through the application process, but I also believe there’s going to be heavy oversight to limit the potential of fraud.


This has forced a lot of people to pivot their business model, and I think that some of the things that people have come up with are amazing, and a true credit to the ingenuity of the entrepreneur. I see nothing but positives after this is done. I really don’t see any negatives.


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Spotlight On: Ava Parker, President, Palm Beach State College

Spotlight On: Ava Parker, President, Palm Beach State College

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read May 2020 — Palm Beach State College succeeded in transferring most of its programs to a remote format to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the world early in 2020. The college is preparing the next generation of business leaders and frontline workers with business programs, health sciences career tracks, and fire and law enforcement among its most popular offerings. In an interview with Invest: Palm Beach, college President Ava Parker discussed the school’s most popular programs, its role as a stepping stone to a better life for students, and its stress on academic focus.


What are the most popular programs for the college?

As a state college, 60% of our students come here to earn an Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree and transfer to our bachelor’s programs or to a university bachelor’s program, most frequently in the state. Most of our students want to transfer to Florida Atlantic University or the University of Central Florida. Florida International University and the University of Florida are also top choices. 

In our A.A. pathway, many students want to go into business. Our entrepreneurship A.A. and bachelor’s degree tracks are popular, as is getting the business foundation needed to transfer to a university’s program.

Another popular area is health sciences. Many of our students are the first in their families to go to college, so for them, they are thinking about where they have seen people succeed, which people have improved their economic condition because of their chosen profession. Many of our students go into health sciences because that is an area where they can always find a job. The fields that are popular include dental hygiene, nursing, ophthalmic medical technology, respiratory care and radiography. Those are Associate in Science degree programs that many of our students see as opportunities to move from a lower socioeconomic status to the middle class. Most years, 100% of our ophthalmic graduates are placed right away, including at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, where we have a tremendous partnership. Our respiratory care graduates are picked right up once they pass their national boards, as are the radiography and dental hygiene graduates. And of course, our longest waiting list is for nursing. We are a sought-after solution for students, and also hospitals and doctors’ offices, because they understand that our program is rigorous and turns out great nurses. We also have bachelor’s programs in nursing and cardiopulmonary sciences for nurses and respiratory therapists who want to advance.

Our fire, law enforcement and corrections academies are also very popular. Many of our citizens rely on these programs as the primary route to entering those public safety fields. 

How does the college help students update skills to transfer to other institutions? 

Our bachelor’s degree programs are a fast lane. When I shake hands with students who are graduating with our bachelor’s degrees, most of them are in their 30s. They are folks who already have a job, and they found their way to us because they were sitting at work, and there was an HR announcement about a job opportunity that required a bachelor’s degree. 

We are ideal for those people because they can continue to work at their jobs, and they can come to us in the evenings or attend online to earn those additional credentials. We also can do that at a reasonable cost. 

How are your trade programs structured?

Regarding our trade programs, we are the workforce solution for adults in Palm Beach County. We see that as a hallmark of what we do as an institution for people who enjoy working with their hands, or people who want a shorter term of study and come out ready for work. We have long waiting lists for many of our trade certificate programs, which prepare students to become welders, HVAC technicians, machinists, low voltage technicians, electricians, automotive, diesel and marine service technicians as well as cosmetologists and barbers. Our Engineering Technology and Electrical Power Technology A.S. degree programs are producing much-needed technicians to support the manufacturing, aerospace and electrical power generation industries. In fact, graduates of PBSC trade programs can be found throughout the county, contributing to its growth and innovation. 

How is COVID-19 shaping the educational landscape?

I am concerned every day about students withdrawing. Our spring break was the first week of March, and I recall having the first conversation with my leadership team about us preparing for COVID-19. I never would have guessed that a month later most of my staff would be working from home, as well as all of our instruction happening remotely. My biggest worry, because we were able to successfully transfer most of our programs to a remote format, was related to our firefighter and police academies, because our instructors, who are first responders out there at work dealing with the situation, were not available to instruct our students. It was also considered a liability to have our Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program students out there in the hospitals doing their clinical rounds, as well as our nursing students. The hardest thing has been stressing to our students to remain focused on their academic trajectory. Some of them did not have the devices to actually make the transition, so we had to go and look throughout the college for every laptop available for our students to check out, because it is really difficult to do your homework from your phone.

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