Meet Jae Kim, Aprio’s US Investments & Expansion Leader, Korea

January 10, 2023

We recently sat down with Jae Kim, CPA, US Investments & Expansion Leader, Korea. During our
conversation, he provided insights about Aprio, his role and business trends in the industry segments
he serves. We also learned more about his personal history and what makes him tick. Let’s take a
closer look.

Tell us about your background and what attracted you to Aprio.

Jae Kim: I was born in Seoul, South Korea, but I grew up in Zimbabwe, South Africa and
Mozambique. Our family was part of an expat program in South Korea. A few multinational
companies were participating in diplomacy as the economy drove opportunities across South Africa.
That’s what brought my family there.

Then the International Monetary Fund (IMF) experienced a crisis across Asia that brought me back to
South Korea for about a year or two — just when I was applying for university — and that’s what
eventually led me to the United States.

I applied to several schools and ended up in the Midwest and went to Business School at Indiana
University. From there, I went on to get my masters and did some internships that landed me in the
accounting profession.

My first job out of school was at Deloitte in Chicago and Indiana. I decided that I was more
interested in working for a private company, so I made the move to private-sector accounting and
got a job in the consolidation group at Roche Diagnostics. After about three or four years, I was
looking for a new venture.

That’s when I met Ryan Ahn, a partner at Aprio. I wanted to join a firm where I could play to my
passions — and for me, that’s bridging cultures, which is where my diplomatic background comes in.
I wanted to work in a firm where I could help foreign companies achieve success doing business with
US companies. And that is what attracted me to Aprio.

How did you wind up serving inbound and outbound Korean companies?

Jae Kim: I started out in general practice and served Japanese companies. In the past three years,
I’ve been focusing more on Korean companies. Due to shifts in the economy, the majority of
international investments are coming from companies establishing operations and perusing ventures
in the United States.

So, these days, my primary client focus is on Korean companies coming to the United States; the
outbound sector is a much smaller playing field for me.

What industries and types of companies do you primarily serve?

Jae Kim: My industry expertise includes technology, manufacturing and distribution, and the energy
trade, especially electric vehicles (EVs). EVs are one of my passions; I’m an early adopter of them.
When I got my first Tesla four years ago, I remember thinking, why aren’t EVs a huge trend all over
the United States?

Advancing clean energy to the United States is another one of my interests. The proposed Build Back
Better Act’s infrastructure bill piqued my interest, and I have been following developments in clean
energy policy to identify new sectors and potential opportunities.

What business trends are you seeing within the companies and industries you serve?

Jae Kim: In recent years, it seems like business and policy have been shifting toward green energy
initiatives — and we see evidence of that in the Inflation Reduction Act that just passed on August
16, 2022. That massive bill includes billions of dollars in funding for green initiatives. Companies of
all sizes, from startups to large corporations, are willing to invest in the infrastructure to bring more
EVs and renewable solar energy into the mainstream.

We are currently working on helping businesses leverage these trends in policy in D.C. to do the right
assessments to identify opportunities that can grow their operations and these industries in the
States. It is an exciting opportunity to play to my passion for bridging cultures.

These laws are new to us all, but they prove more challenging for companies that are learning how
to conduct business in the US as policies shift. Now they have to learn how to apply some of the
policies in the Clean Energy Act when they come to the US to do business. That’s what makes it
complicated. Many companies I work with have consulted with law firms that focus on trade-specific
matters and how to apply them to their business strategies.

The upside is really satisfying because when we get it right, it’s a huge win-win for everyone. These
companies are investing in jobs in the US; that makes coming to work exciting.

What’s unique about you and Aprio that attracts clients?

Jae Kim: Our 31 fundamental behaviors are a differentiator. We call them “the Aprio Way,” and they
guide how we support each other and our clients every day as trusted advisors. On a tactical level, I
help my clients and their investors or parent companies with accurate financial reporting. Audit and
assurance guidance are my core bread and butter.

When it comes to what attracts clients to Aprio overall, I feel it’s a combination of two things:
First, I’m genuinely interested in helping my clients’ businesses. Second, I speak my clients’ language.
Whether it’s Korean or the language of green energy, technology and EVs, it gives me so much comfort and satisfaction to partner with clients and have honest, clear conversations that promote
understanding and establish trust. This mindset makes me so much more than an external advisor;
that’s what’s great about Aprio.

Want to learn more about Aprio’s International Services?

Schedule a consultation today.