Holly (Rowlas) Pantzer BS'92
Tax Partner, BKD
“I like the dynamics of working with families—helping them save income taxes or estate taxes and doing it in a way that’s meaningful to them.”
For Holly Pantzer, accounting and Indiana University are both family matters.
As a high school student in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Pantzer developed an interest in tax law while working at Geo. S. Olive & Co., where her father was a partner. When it came time to choose a college, she only seriously considered one: IU, where her father earned his degree and her sister was enrolled.
“I loved the campus, and the Kelley School of Business is one of the best business schools in the country,” she says. “IU was just a great fit for me.”
At IU, Pantzer signed up to interview with several employers through Kelley’s Undergraduate Career Services office and accepted an internship with Thomson Consumer Electronics in Indianapolis. She says the interviews were “a good practice run” for interviewing for full-time jobs.
The internship interviews were just one element of what Pantzer says was a school-wide focus on preparing students for the working world. “The Kelley School did a great job bringing firms to campus and talking to you about what it was really going to be like working in accounting,” she says. “They weren’t just teaching theory or debits and credits. I really felt that Kelley was preparing me to get a job and build a career.”
Pantzer’s first job after graduation was with McGladrey & Pullen in North Carolina. A year later she returned to Indiana to join Geo. S. Olive & Co.—which merged with BKD in 2001—and worked her way up to tax partner.
Her main focus is estate and wealth management, and her clients are usually families that want to transfer wealth to future generations or give to charity in the most tax-efficient way possible. “I like the dynamics of working with families—helping them save income taxes or estate taxes and doing it in a way that’s meaningful to them.”
She often works with financial planners and attorneys, and says that collaboration is one of her favorite parts of the job. “It’s a lot less about numbers than you would think. It’s more being on the phone with clients or in meetings, listening to what issue they might be facing that day or what they’re thinking about.” Accounting knowledge is still fundamental to her job: she gathers data, integrates it into her clients’ overall financial plan, and comes up with solutions to accomplish her clients’ goals.
In addition to helping other families, Pantzer enjoys having the flexibility to spend time with hers.
“When you’re committed and you’re meeting your clients’ needs, you can work on your own schedule,” she says. “There are times in the year when I work a lot of hours, but there are also times when I can balance my work commitments and be with my family more easily. If I want to leave early on a Friday afternoon to go to the pool with my kids, I can.”
Favorite IU hangout: The Indiana Memorial Union. “That’s where I always studied. It had a homey feel to it. You could study on the couches or sit at a desk, and still be in the middle of activity. If you took a break and got a snack, you’d run into five people you knew.”
Favorite Bloomington restaurants: Nick’s English Hut, the Village Deli, Lennie’s
Hobbies: Running, doing Pilates, being outside, and spending time with her children, Sophia and Eleni