Al-Nesha Jones ’07, ’13 MBA , CPA is using her expertise to build up the community, one small business at a time. She is also bringing her positive energy to Montclair as a mentor and a new member of the Black Alumni Advisory Council.
The 200-plus clients of West Orange, New Jersey’s, ASE Group receive much more than year-end tax preparation. Jones and her all-female team of financial professionals educate and provide year-round expertise to help business owners build their enterprises, and their community.
“My firm’s clients work hard and have great ideas,” explains Jones. “What they often don’t have, is good financial knowhow. By educating and guiding our clients throughout the year, we empower them to grow their businesses.”
When Jones founded the ASE Group in 2016, she brought considerable corporate experience as an associate manager of financial reporting at Prudential Financial and as an assurance senior at EY, where she began her career as an intern from Montclair. The pivot may have been prompted by the need for flexibility to raise her family, but it also reflected a personal sense of mission as well as what she observed as a real need in her community.
“I had a successful career working for very large companies, but I didn’t feel like I was having an impact,” she explains. “At the same time, I had friends and neighbors who were struggling to make their small businesses thrive. They knew they had to pay taxes but didn’t know how to plan for them. They needed more comprehensive guidance. I saw an opportunity to make a real contribution.”
In addition to tax, accounting and financial counseling services, Jones educates the community through free bookkeeping and tax classes and her Tea & Tax Talk blog. She also teaches a Quickbooks Online Certification course at Essex County College.
When Jones jumped off the corporate ladder to start her own company, it was not the first time she had changed course. She had thought she would attend college out of state but was offered a scholarship to attend a New Jersey college, so she began touring campuses. “I loved Montclair and liked the idea of staying close to home.”
Jones’ involvement in Montclair has continued – and grown – since graduation. She understands the power of mentorship and regularly volunteers as a mentor. “I received such wonderful mentorship from my professors and counselors,” she says. “I kept in touch with some of my professors over the years and when I was starting my own firm, they continued to inspire and support me.”
As a member of the Black Alumni Advisory Council, Jones has another opportunity to give back. “I remember what it was like, coming to Montclair as a first-generation college student,” she says. “There were so many people at Montclair who helped me create a path to success. I want to do the same for others.”