A. Gary Anderson
Graduate School of Management

A Firm of His Own

This year, Zaid Assi ’23 MPAc launched an international accounting firm catering to the entertainment industry
By Laurie McLaughlin |

Zaid Assi had already set the foundation for his own accounting firm when he finished his Master of Professional Accountancy degree at the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management in December 2023.

“I officially launched Artistic Ledger on Jan. 1, 2024, because I recognized a significant opportunity for accounting services in the entertainment industry,” says Assi. The firm specializes in serving the financial needs particular to musicians, filmmakers, actors, models, and other creatives.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Saint Levant, who is set to perform this year at Coachella,” says Assi of the U.S.-based Palestinian artist, activist, and singer. “I also had the honor of working with Oscar-nominated Ossama Bawardi, producer and CEO of Philistine Films.”

Assi initially launched the company solo, but he has “friends in finance and accounting who assist when needed,” he says. He now also has one full-time employee based in East Jerusalem, Palestine; two part-time colleagues in Los Angeles, where the company is based; and Zaid and another part-time colleague work in New York City. The firm has eight contracts with the hope of generating more than $100,000 in its first year.

“I enjoy the flexibility of remote work, but the inconsistency of project-based work and the long writer’s strike posed challenges,” says Assi, of the startup journey.

Those challenges have not kept him from growing a firm serving an industry he knows personally: “I started in the entertainment industry as a production coordinator and production accountant for the short film “Headcount” directed by Akram Al-Waara in 2019,” says Assi, whose home city is Nablus in the West Bank. “I then worked as senior financial analyst for Palestine Productions, and I was a production accountant for a Hollywood feature film, ‘The Teacher,’ filmed in Nablus by BAFTA award-winner and Oscar-nominated director Farah Nabulsi.”

A Master’s Education on the Way to a Startup

“I came to the United States as an immigrant and asylum seeker,” says Assi. “I chose to get my master’s at UCR specifically because it is a top public university in the nation for social mobility.

Zaid Assi ’23 MPA speaking at an AGSM student event

“I chose a career in accounting because I believe it is the language of business and offers space for creativity, especially in the entertainment industry.”

At UCR, Assi immersed himself in the social, service, and support programs that fuel an active and engaged community at the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management (AGSM). “Most useful were the events held by the Career Development Center, which helped me land and create opportunities,” he says. “And the fun activities were the those organized by the School of Business Graduate Student Association. In the classroom, Lecturer Daniel Almendarez was particularly influential because of his teaching style and real-world experience in accounting and taxes.”

Assi also served as a teaching assistant and was a member of the AGSM Student Ambassadors Program, a select group of graduate students who serve as representatives of the school as they host official events, participate in public service, network with business leaders, help with recruitment of prospective students, and aid new students with a smooth transition into grad school.

“During my time as an ambassador, I was able to organize and moderate a speaking engagement with Richard Tatunay, the accounting manager at Warner Bros. Discovery,” says Assi; Tatunay is also a UCR alumnus and earned a bachelor’s degree with an accounting emphasis in 2011. “All of these experiences were immensely instructive and shaped my leadership and public speaking skills.”

The Next Act

Currently, Assi is also a producing a short drama set for production in late 2024, and he is writing, directing, and producing another short film that is in the development phase. “I am passionate about storytelling, which drives my involvement in filmmaking and writing projects outside of my accounting business,” he says.

Within the accounting business, he is confidently shooting for the stars: “I foresee continued growth in the entertainment industry, with opportunities for accountants to play a crucial role,” says Assi. “Artistic Ledger will become a leader in providing accounting and finance consultation for creative professionals in the entertainment industry.”