Missy DeArk, Dean Dorton’s Dean Dorton’s Associate Director of Litigation Support and Valuation Services Business Consulting Group, was recently listed among the 20 professionals who earned a spot on Louisville Business First’s 20 People to Know: Accounting.  

Years in current job?


Years in accounting?


What particular role do you play in your organization?

I am a part of our litigation team and owner at Dean Dorton. We are the largest litigation group in the region. We are a valuable asset to attorneys, assisting with the financial pieces of their cases and providing expert witness testimony, but also to business owners, providing valuations for strategic planning and a variety of other reasons. My focus is in family law disputes, business disputes, mergers and acquisitions, forensic accounting and business valuations. As a leader of our firm, I strive to be a well-rounded adviser to individuals and businesses, helping them maintain and grow their value.

What do you wish more people understood about the work that accounting professionals do?

Accounting is not the same thing as preparing taxes — I know, I just blew your mind. Accounting has many branches of practice, one of which, of course, is tax services. Litigation and forensic accounting is an exciting, whirlwind branch that can range from alimony calculations and forensic accounting investigations (you would be surprised how much fraud happens within companies) to disposable-income and cash-flow analysis and asset tracing.

Not many accountants like it because it is very unpredictable — it is absolutely the reason I love it. Each day is never the same for me.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in your field?

The demand is currently high for certified public accountants (CPA) and there are numerous avenues one can take within the field, so becoming a CPA doesn’t mean you’ll be doing tax returns for your career — there are plenty of opportunities to become a true business adviser outside of performing daily tasks. With hard work, rewards of a generous pay scale and opportunity for advancement can be achieved. Take time to shadow someone in the area of accounting you may be interested in — learn more about what they do on a daily basis and see if it is a good fit for you. If you feel it is, pursue an internship.

What is the biggest challenge facing the accounting industry right now?

I would say this is two-fold: We are a service business — attracting talented and dedicated people who enjoy serving clients is always a challenge especially given perceptions about the accounting field. We aren’t all the “typical” accountant you may be picturing! Our team prefers to act as business advisers who really look at our client’s entire picture to provide a holistic approach and advice. Secondly as technology advances the accounting industry must advance along with it; from the way internal processes work to client information sharing along with the data analytics tools we now have access to, we are constantly finding new and innovative ways to provide services.

How would you solve that challenge, given the chance?

In regards to talent, I think educating students as young as high school about career fields and what opportunities exist can help solve the challenge. Someone who may think an accounting degree is only good for doing taxes may find interest in other avenues like I did and stay in the area because they know there are opportunities for them. Technology is continuously evolving so we must evaluate existing programs more regularly and be listening to what’s going on in the industry on national and international levels.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

I spend a significant amount of time in the family law arena. People ask “Why?” Going through a divorce is a very scary process which I can personally attest to. I enjoy being able to help families resolve their financial issues outside of the courtroom. Once your case goes to a judge, you have lost all control and judges are only able to spend a small amount of time hearing about your situation while their decision will affect the rest of your life. I like to see people control their own outcome. After the case is over, a hug and a “thank you” for assisting the client to the end is the best.

Why do you have the career that you do?

From a market perspective, financial issues and challenges tend to scare the average person. I like to help clients navigate through the difficult times and have them feel empowered when they get through the “tunnel.”

My personal success in my career has come from years of hard work and my love for learning. Prior to specializing in divorce tax and financial issues along with business valuation, I was a controller and CFO for more than 16 years which taught me to work hard for what I wanted to achieve and never stop asking “why?”

Missy DeArk can be seen presenting during the Sunday AM Workshop; “The Talk of the Town: creative strategies for cultivating collaborative practice in small communities” at the upcoming 2018 International Academy of Collaborative Professionals Forum on Sunday, October 28th in Seattle, WA.