Advisory: What is a Private Enterprise Advisor?

May 2, 2022

Meet Aaron Surkan, A Business Advisor With MNP’s Private Enterprise Practice

Aaron Surkan is a Business Advisor and Senior Manager within MNP’s Private Enterprise group

NANAIMO – Coming from a background in sports and cultural management, Aaron Surkan was introduced to the accounting and finance world during his university career. Bringing a diverse background of education and experience, he enjoys working with people to help them achieve their business and personal financial goals. Read on to learn more about this sports and business enthusiast.

Did you always want to become an accountant?

No, not initially.  I went to the University of Alberta on a volleyball scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Physical Education with a minor in Sports and Cultural Management. Through a practicum with the Calgary Stampede, I gained first-hand experience working with and managing clients in a business scenario. After a brief sting travelling to the South Pacific, I decided to enter the Diploma in Accounting Program at the University of British Columbia and later earned both my CMA, and CA designations prior to becoming a CPA.

What is your role with MNP?

I’m a Business Advisor and Senior Manager within our Private Enterprise group. I work with small- and medium-sized businesses in a range of industries, with an emphasis on real estate and construction and food and beverage retailing. My work isn’t limited to accounting and tax; I have a passion for people, so I spend most of my day connecting with clients to help them problem solve and provide solutions so they can continue to operate and grow.

How would you characterize your professional self?

Personable. I like to get to know my clients outside of their business needs so I can identify underlying issues on the personal side that may be linked to the business. I consider my relation-ship with clients as a partnership regardless of the stage of their business, and I feel person-ally invested in their success. Being proactive is important to me, so I’m always looking at how various options will play out in the future, because what happens today might not make sense in one year. I’m also a fan of beer, so prior to the pandemic I’d quite often go for a pint with a client.

How do you approach a client conversation?

I like to know the background. I’ll ask about specific issues but also, what’s new in your world? What are you seeing? What’s keeping you up at night? I like to have the conversation, take it away, let it absorb, and provide potential recommendations or steps forward to deal with the issue or continue on the road they’re on. If you want the best answer to your question, I am your guy. I am not a haphazard man, I have high expectations for myself, and I am committed to excellent service, which means I don’t give quick answers.

What challenges are your clients facing?

The big challenge is the ever-changing land-scape of business. Obviously, Covid has led to a lot of challenges, including staffing issues. In addition, I find staying on top of technology is difficult because it changes so rapidly, whether that’s accounting software or marketing platforms. I have a lot of conversations on the benefits of a specific change or how the market or industry is changing and what they need to do to keep up with it. That’s what I like about MNP—we have the specialty services, such as IT or software, that I can connect my clients to when they need expertise. I enjoy collaborating that way, whether it’s within the firm or with external experts.

What’s the number one piece of advice you’re giving clients right now?

The biggest piece of advice is feel free to call me. Whether you have concerns about some-thing that’s happening or you’re making plans for the future, starting the conversation with your advisor early is important. Changes can take time to implement and having conversations early sets you up for success.

What do you do outside of work?

I have a two-year-old son, so that’s really my world outside of work right now—watching him grow. When I get free time, my passions are mountain biking, stand up paddle boarding, beach, and indoor volleyball. I also volunteer on the board of directors for the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce. It’s been really interesting to be involved with the chamber from a networking standpoint but also from a ‘trying to make change’ standpoint. Previously, I was on the board of directors for the Young Professionals of Nanaimo.

What is the best thing about living in Nanaimo?

The people. It’s a great mix of outdoor enthusiasts within a city setting. I love the lifestyle. We have the ocean and the mountains and there are great sports communities.  In the end, I got into this business to help people and I really enjoy the people here.

Contact Aaron Surkan CPA, CMA, CA, Senior Manager, Private Enterprise Services, at 250.734.4394 or

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