Jody Rorick, CPA In The News

 

October 11, 1998 Asbury Park Sunday Press

A CPA Who Now Works With Elderly
by Robert Hordt

Several years ago when my mother was still alive, I remember driving an hour to her home in Bergen County every few weeks to collect her medical bills and insurance forms.

My mother, who was in her 70s at the time, had the unfortunate luck to have been in the hospital three times over the course of just a few months. The amount of paperwork created by these hospital stays was astounding. It seemed almost everyone who saw my mother, from the emergency room doctor to the x-ray technician, was an independent contractor and sent separate bills for their services.

At first it seemed overwhelming, but I eventually figured out a system of keeping track of each bill as it wended its way through the health care system.

Unfortunately, many elderly people do not have family close by who can help out. They can easily get frustrated, not just by medical bills, but by all kinds of financial matters both large and small.

Jody Rorick Varvaloucas realized the same thing a few years ago when her parents moved into her Middletown home. Her father had always taken care of the finances in his family, but as he got older he developed cataracts, which made it difficult for him to read his mail and pay his bills.

At about the same time, Varvaloucas saw a story in a magazine about people who specialize in helping the elderly take care of their financial affairs. Called daily money managers, these financial housekeepers visit their clients once or twice a month and provide as much - or as little - help as needed.

For Varvaloucas, 47, the timing was impeccable. A certified public accountant, she had worked for a Big Eight accounting firm and a bank in New York before leaving the workforce to start a family. She was ready to return to work - but not to the daily commute to Manhattan.

Two years ago, she took the plunge and started her own daily money management service.

“If I had to describe an average client,” Varvaloucas explained, “it’s a widow who has had nothing to do with finances. . . whose kids are living out of state and who has enough money to have someone do this for them.”

One of Varvaloucas’ clients - we’ll call her Mrs. M. - is 85, blind and bed-ridden. She lives in a Red Bank retirement home. Varvaloucas was hired by her daughter, who lives in Pennsylvania. Twice a month, Varvaloucas visits Mrs. M. and sorts her mail, pays her bills, balances her checkbook, makes bank deposits, organizes her tax records - she even figures out the payroll taxes and pays Mrs. M.’s private duty nurse.

Varvaloucas, who is bonded, charges $60 an hour, which she said is about average for the industry.

While she could handle more clients - she currently sees about 12 people regularly - Varvaloucas is pleased with her career choice. She credits her father with giving her encouragement. “Right before he died, he told me what I was thinking of doing was a good idea,” she said.

Robert Hordt is the business editor of the Asbury Park Press. His column appears Sundays. If you have an idea for this column, send it to him at 3601 Highway 66, Neptune, NJ 07754.

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NEWSFLASH August 1999

Pathfinder Profile

Pathfinder Profile is a new column in Newsflash dedicated to recognizing members of the New Jersey Society of CPAs who are performing work that is visionary and designed to meet the challenges of the next century. If you or someone you know is doing work that is forward-thinking and would like to be interviewed as a Pathfinder, please contact Ellen Riccardi at the NJSCPA at 973-226-4494, ext. 228, or ericcardi@njscpa.org.

Fast-tracked CPA Builds New Career as Financial Housekeeper

Several years ago, Jody Rorick Varvaloucas, CPA, of Middletown, opted out of a successful accounting career with a major New York firm to forge a new career track and to start a family. Today, she not only has that family, but also is proud to call herself a “financial housekeeper.”

In 1993, she spotted an article in Business Week, titled “Financial Housekeepers for the Elderly,” that sparked her interest in the growing field of daily money managers. Daily money-managers assist families in handling the finances of elderly family members. They also will make house calls to meet with homebound clients. Her interest in the field was spurred on by the addition of her parents in her home, as she took over managing their money as it became harder for her father to see and pay bills.

Three years later, she decided to dive into the world of the self-employed by starting her own daily money-manager business. Slowly, but surely, she built up a clientele based on referrals and word-of-mouth. Her company, Jody Rorick Varvaloucas, CPA, now serves about a dozen clients.

Trust is a huge factor in Rorick Varvaloucas’ business. She explains that her CPA designation allows her to establish credibility and earn the trust of clients in this new line of work.

“Often a client will say, “I like that you’re a CPA.” I find it also helps when talking to persons who represent insurance companies, or Medicare, or to lawyers or trust officers,” she says.

Rorick Varvaloucas describes a typical client as an elderly widow without a lot of knowledge for managing finances, whose children live out-of-state. She spends as much time as needed with her clients, providing such services as paying bills, sorting mail, setting up files, budgeting, balancing checkbooks, and following up on health insurance claims with Medicare and supplemental insurers. In addition, she also figures payroll taxes and assists in income tax return preparation. Occasionally, an overwhelmed client will hire her just for handling stacks of insurance claim-related paperwork.

“I like what I do because I feel that I am helping my clients cope, and I like being self-employed,” she says. “Not all of my clients are elderly. Sometimes they are young but busy with their own world of work, and want the service of a daily money-manager.”

Rorick Varvaloucas is a member of the NJSCPA, the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners, and the newly created American Association of Daily Money Managers. She earned her BA in English from Case Western Reserve University and MBA in accounting from Rutgers University.

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