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At Cray Kaiser, we believe in a simple yet powerful philosophy: that behind every number is a person. Our dedication to melding numbers with our clients’ narratives has been a central pillar of our ethos. And guess what? This commitment has once again been validated by our latest NPS score for 2023.

NPS Demystified

For anyone unfamiliar with it, Net Promoter Score, or NPS, is a standardized metric used across industries to gauge customer loyalty and satisfaction. How does it work? Customers are asked one straightforward question: “On a scale from 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our business to a friend or colleague?”

From the responses, customers fall into one of three groups:

The formula to derive the NPS is as straightforward as the question itself—subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

To give some context: A score above zero is already good, surpassing 50 is deemed excellent, and anything beyond 80 is simply incredible.

Cray Kaiser: Setting New Benchmarks in 2023

Comparing against industry standards and rivals provides a clear view of where a business stands. With an astounding NPS of 89 this year, Cray Kaiser has once more surged past the accounting industry’s average.

But that’s not the end of our story. Cray Kaiser’s NPS still shines when juxtaposed against market leaders across different sectors. We’re talking scores higher than industry titans like Target, Amazon, and Apple.

It’s more than just a number for us. It’s an affirmation that our clientele trusts and values the service we provide.

Here for You, Always

Your success stories are ours, too. In 2023 and the years ahead, our focus remains unwavering: to be impeccable with our numbers and unparalleled in our people skills. Cheers to another year of achieving together!


In Cray Kaiser’s Employee Spotlight series, we highlight a member of the CK team. We couldn’t be prouder of the team we’ve grown and we’re excited for you to get to know them. This month we’re shining our spotlight on Nicole Hughes-Durkin.

Getting to Know Nicole

No single day is ever the same for Nicole as CK’s HR Coordinator. Her typical activities and engagements range from attending career fairs and engaging in recruitment activities to registering staff members for Continuing Professional Education (CPE). She also provides support in the areas of employee benefits and onboarding processes.

Before she joined the CK team, Nicole attended Governors State University. She also worked at the Hinsdale Hospital in the Quality Management Department. This past year, Dr. Mark Cohen, the Superintendent at Mokena School District nominated her for the Intern of the Year award. The nomination process was facilitated by Moraine Valley Community College and she ultimately received the Intern of the Year award.

Why CK?

Nicole joined the CK team in October of 2019. What initially drew her in was the organization’s commitment to nurturing and helping their employees grow. When asked what elements of the culture motivates her, Nicole said, “The positive and collaborative culture that encourages innovation and continuous learning!” She also appreciates the support the team receives and the importance CK places on inclusivity. “The challenging and rewarding nature of my position coupled with the autonomy and opportunities for advancement have been strong motivators for me to continue my career at CK.”

When asked which core value means the most to her, Nicole answered, “The core value that holds the greatest significance for me is “people.”’ She continued, “In my role, I firmly believe that prioritizing the well-being of individuals is vital. I derive immense satisfaction and fulfillment from providing support to my team, whether it involves aiding in the search of CPE classes, recruiting new staff, or addressing any inquiries.”

Nicole’s favorite CK outing was the gathering at K-1 Speed. Since the team at CK can be competitive, she thought that it was a thrill to engage in races and compete against one another. It was an exciting post-tax season event.

More About Nicole

How do you like to spend your weekends/time off? Bonus question: what do you want to do most when tax season is over?

I like to spend my weekends/time off with my family. We love to travel as a family even if it is little weekend trips. We enjoy going out biking, hiking, and swimming. The thing I want to do the most when tax season is over is sleep in.

Tell us about your family.

For over 13 years I have been happily married to my husband Sean. Our family includes two wonderful boys, Logan (10 years old) and Parker (7 years old), as well as our beloved Shiba Inu named Kira. We cherish the moments we spend together as a family, whether it’s having dirt biking adventures or simply enjoying a cozy movie night indoors.

What was your favorite vacation?

My favorite vacation was in 2021 when we treated our boys to a memorable trip to Universal Studios and Disney. The vacation was a surprise for the boys, and their surprise when we showed up at the airport in a limo was an amazing moment.

What’s your favorite movie or tv show?

Gilmore Girls

What’s the last book you read?

Becoming by Michelle Obama

In Cray Kaiser’s Employee Spotlight series, we highlight a member of the CK team. We couldn’t be prouder of the team we’ve grown and we’re excited for you to get to know them. This month we’re shining our spotlight on Raychel Korn.

Getting to Know Raychel

Raychel is a staff accountant at Cray Kaiser. Her day is mostly filled with corporate and not-for profit audits, reviews, compilations, and employee benefit plan (401k) audits. When tax season begins, she works on preparing individual tax returns.

During her time at Aurora University, Raychel interned for the winter tax season at CK. Once she graduated, she joined the team as a full-time staff accountant in May 2022.

Why CK?

Raychel was drawn to CK because of the learning environment. She appreciates how all members of the staff, managers, and partners value continuing education and take the time to educate others when needed. It’s no surprise that the two core values that mean the most to her are Education and Care. “At CK, we all care for each other and the clients,” says Raychel. “We are always there for each other even if it is personal or work related.

“To those who are just getting started in the accounting industry, your light bulb moment will come,” says Raychel. She says every project will have its own nuances. But each engagement or project will help you gain more and more knowledge until everything just clicks.

When asked about some of her favorite times with the CK group, Raychel says Saturday games during tax season are always a blast. “We all laugh, have fun, and have team bonding! My favorite games are when it’s Team Tax vs. Team Assurance. Go, Team Assurance!”

More About Raychel

I would want to be an expert scuba diver. I think it would be cool to travel and see the different marine life around the world.

I enjoy going to concerts and music festivals with my friends. I enjoy dancing and singing to my favorite artists.

I try to always be positive. My motto is, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

In Cray Kaiser’s Employee Spotlight series, we highlight a member of the CK team. We couldn’t be prouder of the team we’ve grown and we’re excited for you to get to know them. This month we’re shining our spotlight on Tatyana Jackson.

Getting to Know Tatyana

Tatyana is one of CK’s Accounting Service Specialist/Staff Accountants. Her days are spent calculating monthly transactions on clients’ books. She also performs year-end accounting and tax compilations. During tax season, Tatyana has a hand in preparing business and individual tax returns.

Prior to joining CK, Tatyana was part of a very small accounting company located in Little Rock, Arkansas where her role was similar to the role she holds now at CK. A unique fact about Tatyana is that she immigrated to the United States from Russia in 2016. She spent nearly 7 years living in Arkansas where she received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Tatyana also holds a master’s degree in education.

Why CK?

Tatyana joined the CK team in July of 2022 and was immediately drawn to the rich culture CK provides. She was also impressed by the strong female presence within CK. When asked which of CK’s core values mean the most and why, Tatyana answered, “Education means the most. I believe in lifetime learning and appreciate that CK provides that to its employees.” Tatyana enjoys working in the accounting department because she has the opportunity to learn from the best– her team  everyday. “All CK team members are helpful and always willing to jump in and teach when needed,” says Tatyana.

When asked about her favorite CK group outing, Tatyana answered, “Our bowling event right before tax season was a lot of fun! I enjoy bowling and it was great to have outing prior to the busy season to give us all a boost in energy.”

More About Tatyana

“The Golden Mean in everything.”

Right now, the #1 place I would love to visit is the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. As for an overseas destination, I would love to visit London, UK.

“Ozark” on Netflix!

Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

In Cray Kaiser’s Employee Spotlight series, we highlight a member of the CK team. We couldn’t be prouder of the team we’ve grown and we’re excited for you to get to know them. This month we’re shining our spotlight on Sarah Gutierrez.

Getting to Know Sarah

No day is the same for Sarah as one of CK’s Accounting and Tax Specialists. Her duties range from assisting with individual and business tax returns to helping the accounting department with monthly and quarterly compilations.

Prior to CK, Sarah graduated from Aurora University, located in the same area where she grew up. During her college career, Sarah interned at CK and found her love for public accounting.

When asked what piece of advice she would pass along to someone just getting started in the industry, Sarah answered, “Be patient, be kind, and be open to suggestions and feedback. The first two years are a learning experience but it will pay off in the end. Just trust the process!”

Why CK?

After interning at CK and gaining some experience in the industry, Sarah decided to return and join CK full time in August of 2022. The CK team and culture were a deciding factor in Sarah’s return. She feels most at home in the environment and surrounded by the CK team.

CK’s core values were also important in Sarah’s decision. “CK’s core value of ‘Education’ means the most to me because I believe in empowering myself, my team, and clients with the knowledge that I have and can pass along,” said Sarah. 

More About Sarah

I love to spend time with my family. Life is too short; I like to enjoy it with my loved ones. After tax season, I am looking forward to taking a vacation and being outside most afternoons.

You only live once.

I have a wonderful husband, Dominick. I have a 9-year-old daughter, Ellaina and a 3-year-old son, Emmett. I have two dogs, Petra and Petunia, and 2 guinea pigs, Mocha and Camila. Our life is chaotic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

St. Lucia and Spain are on my bucket list. My favorite vacation spot is Cancun, as it is where I got married and we try to go every year!

My favorite show is Schitt’s Creek. I identify with Mora. I have rewatched it 4 times!

Bad Bunny, Shakira, Taylor Swift, Adele… my music taste depends on how I am vibing that day, to be honest.

In Cray Kaiser’s Employee Spotlight series, we highlight a member of the CK team. We couldn’t be prouder of the team we’ve grown and we’re excited for you to get to know them. This month we’re shining our spotlight on Matt Richardson.

Getting to Know Matt

Matt is one of CK’s In-Charge Accountants, with much of his day revolving around the many steps of tax preparation with both business and personal taxes. For businesses, Matt is often involved in reviewing clients’ accounting records and closing books in addition to executing the return itself. He also will occasionally jump in to assist with the review and audit teams to help with tax-related issues. Matt is currently a generalist but over time plans to grow into a more specialized role.

Prior to joining CK, Matt’s career looked a bit different. He studied trombone and music history at Cleveland’s Oberlin Conservatory and went on to complete a PhD in music history at Northwestern. After teaching for a few years at Northwestern and at Wisconsin, he decided to change career paths and use his social and critical thinking skills in accounting.

Why CK?

Matt joined the CK team in November of 2022 and was immediately drawn to the firm’s focus on people. When asked what about CK made him excited to work at the firm, he said, “Whether it’s co-workers or clients, I’ve always personally believed it’s important to remember that it all comes down to how you treat people, so the values at CK really resonated with me.” He enjoys the environment at CK and feels it’s one conducive to growth and learning.

When asked which of CK’s core values mean the most to him and why, Matt answered, “I think people and integrity resonate with me the most. To me, integrity means we take pride in the accuracy and quality of our work as trusted advisors to our clients. And ultimately, it all comes down to People. Nothing else we do can happen without strong relationships with the people we work with.”

More About Matt

I love trying new restaurants whenever I have a chance. Some of my favorites are Italian and Japanese. After tax season (besides catching up on sleep), I’m looking forward to a vacation. This year I’m hoping to make it out to L.A. for a weekend to catch an Angels game and a Dodgers game.

My favorite place I’ve been to is Tokyo. There are so many fantastic restaurants and cafés, and I always manage to meet so many people and discover interesting new things when I’m there. The #1 place I’d like to visit is Vienna. I love opera and symphonic music so I’d love to hear the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera.

I think my favorite movie has to be The Empire Strikes Back. I loved watching the Star Wars movies with my dad growing up, and I never get tired of re-watching them.

I’ve been working my way through some funk and soul – a lot of things like James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Billy Ocean, and Lionel Richie. And I’m always cycling in some classic 80’s Japanese pop, like Akina Nakamori, Seiko Matsuda, and Yu Hayami.

Today is International Women’s Day and we are so proud to recognize and celebrate the strong women of Cray Kaiser. These women continue to advocate for others and blaze a bold path forward for women’s equality in the world.  We are especially proud to share that 50% of the Cray Kaiser team is made up of women, with the firm being 66% women-owned.

We recognize the unique value that women bring to the workplace and we will continue to take action to drive out gender disparity until we can all embrace equity.

From all of us at Cray Kaiser, Happy International Women’s Day!

In Cray Kaiser’s Employee Spotlight series, we highlight a member of the CK team. We couldn’t be prouder of the team we’ve grown and we’re excited for you to get to know them. This month we’re shining our spotlight on Natalie McHugh. 

Getting to Know Natalie

As Cray Kaiser’s tax manager, Natalie helps manage the workflow and people in the tax department. Her days typically consist of reviewing returns and spending time consulting, whether projecting tax costs for clients, researching complex tax situations or assisting clients through a sale transaction. Her niche is estates, gifts and trusts, high-net wealth individuals and partnerships.  

Natalie is a DePaul University graduate and interned at KPMG in their personal financial planning department during her college career. After graduation, she joined the firm full-time and it was there that she found her passion for taxes, specifically personal, trust, estate and gift tax returns.

Why CK?

Natalie joined CK in December of 2013. She was instantly drawn to the CK culture, the variety of clients and having female partners at the firm. Knowing this, Natalie could see herself progressing at CK. When asked why she has stayed at CK, Natalie says, “Our clients. I enjoy helping our clients navigate through their tax situations and helping educate them along the way. I also love the variety of client work we have here. Every day there is something new and I’m constantly learning.”

To Natalie, CK’s core values of Care and People are her two favorites. She is passionate about the amount of care that takes place at CK. She says, “We value a solid work product and want to make sure our clients are taken care of.” When it comes to People, Natalie says, “Each person on the CK team has unique talents that contribute to our solid work product.”

More About Natalie

Soak it up! Learn from those around you and learn what you enjoy the most. There are many different lanes in accounting, from audit to tax to industry. Also, ask lots of questions! Your colleagues are there to help.

I spend a lot of time with family – I love to plan activities like bowling, dinners, and game nights.  My daughter plays travel softball and a lot of time is spent over the summer at tournaments watching games and socializing with the families of the team. I work out regularly to balance my sitting at the office. I also love to read and listen to books during my commute. 

I live with my husband, Matt and 13-year-old daughter, Eleanor and 2 dogs, Pepper and Stitch.  My 26-year-old daughter has her masters in School Counseling and works at a magnet school. She just moved to Wrigleyville, and we enjoy visiting her and going to Cubs games, taking walks with her 2 dogs and visiting different restaurants and bars.

I’ve become the unofficial Mexico all-inclusive travel agent for friends and colleagues. I will find them good prices and give them resort suggestions and then send them over to my travel agent who will deal with the hard work.

Mexico all-inclusives are a favorite after a tax season as there is minimal planning ahead of time. I can enjoy relaxation, socialization, reading, exercise and some Vitamin D! However, I’d like to jump across the pond and expand into Europe in the next couple of years. 

Everything!  My Spotify starts with the 1940s and contains every decade through current. I warn colleagues that I usually have Spotify on shuffle and you never know what you are going to get – some jazz, classical, hair bands, hip hop, 80’s hits, etc. 

In Cray Kaiser’s Employee Spotlight series, we highlight a member of the CK team. We couldn’t be prouder of the team we’ve grown and we’re excited for you to get to know them. This month we’re shining our spotlight on Eric T. Challenger. 

Getting to Know Eric

As Cray Kaiser’s tax manager, Eric leads the client relationship and deliverables for many of CK’s business and individual clients. This includes tax compliance and planning, along with general business guidance for clients. His primary focus is on businesses and their owners. Eric assists them from the startup stage with entity selection and implementing accounting structure to the end of the life cycle and transitioning transactions while keeping in mind the individual needs of each owner on a personal level and helping them reach their personal goals. Eric is also the tax lead on CK’s nonprofit side where he helps register and maintain tax-exempt status for all nonprofit clients. 

From a firm perspective, Eric implements much of the training for the staff at CK and is considered one of the go-to resources within the firm for all staff, from admin to partners. He leads by providing education to sharpen staff knowledge and skills, empowering them to tackle CK clients’ needs. 

Eric is a DePaul graduate and previously worked for a few other small firms before he joined the team at CK. When asked about an impactful moment in his career, he responded, “Passing the CPA exam!”

Why CK?

Eric began at CK in 2012 and was instantly drawn to the small firm feel and family culture. He enjoys the opportunity to work with different clients, and on projects and situations which keep things interesting, challenging and rewarding.

When asked which of CK’s core values mean the most to him and why, Eric answered, “Education – I probably would have been a teacher if I wasn’t an accountant. I enjoy learning something new every day, whether in accounting or on a personal level. I am always trying to be a better person and accountant. There is nothing more rewarding than passing on knowledge and watching lightbulbs go on in others.”

When looking towards the future, Eric is most excited about establishing more clients and being a part of their trusted team of advisors. “I want to be the first line of attack for clients trying to make impactful decisions, whether business or personal,” said Eric. “My goal? To be invited to every client retirement party and know I played a substantial role in getting them to that finish line.”

More About Eric

Our 50th-anniversary event. Sharing stories with clients and employees who have been integral to the growth of CK.

Spending time with family and friends and hopefully getting some golf in.

Undersell and overperform. Spend less than what you make. Never judge a book by its cover.

I’m engaged to my fiancé Stacey and we have a one-year-old golden retriever named Leeloo.

I tried learning the guitar, but only achieved mediocre abilities. However, it has translated into first class air-guitar skills!

The first time I went on an all-inclusive vacation to Cancun, Mexico with Stacey. I didn’t have to lift a finger…I was just able to relax with her. It was wonderful!

Forest Gump and Game of Thrones

I listen to varying types of music. Depending on my mood or projects I can listen to Dua Lipa, Weezer, Carole King, or John Mayer. But my all-time favorite is Metallica…I was an angry teenager!

The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey. 

In Cray Kaiser’s Employee Spotlight series, we highlight a member of the CK team. We couldn’t be prouder of the team we’ve grown and we’re excited for you to get to know them. This month we’re shining our spotlight on Noah Hogue.

Getting to Know Noah

As a staff accountant, Noah spends most of his time with the audit team completing corporate audits, reviews, compilations, and employee benefit plan (401k) audits. During the months of March and April, he lends his talents to business and individual tax prep, as well as continuing his monthly accounting responsibilities throughout the year.

Noah began his journey with CK as an intern during January of 2020 while he attended Aurora University. The internship gave him a glimpse into what a day is in the public accounting field and gave him the opportunity to get to know and learn from other interns in the program.

Why CK?

A huge motivator for Noah is expanding his knowledge in accounting. CK provides a variety of services that allows him to sharpen his skills in different areas and continue to learn. As someone new to the Chicagoland area, he also enjoys traveling to meet clients while exploring different areas of the city.

When asked which of CK’s core values mean the most to him and why, Noah answered, “Trust and education mean the most to me. We take pride and ownership in our work which leads to a reliable service for our clients. We build our confidence by educating ourselves and each other as teammates.” Noah believes there is always something to learn from or celebrate, no matter how big or small the engagement, which leads to many impactful moments.

When asked about his favorite CK outing, Noah remembers the group outing he attended at the Arlington Race Course. “Nothing gets me going like betting 50 cents on a horse with a ridiculous name,” said Noah.

More About Noah

Albert Einstein once said, “It’s not that he is so smart, it just that he stays with his problems longer.” I see that in a lot of successful people, they don’t give up.

I have a fun memory of having an awesome time touring Elvis Presley’s house in Graceland as a kid during a family road trip. I enjoy touring historical sites and feeling what it was like to live in a different time.

My all-time favorite show is Seinfeld for all the random situations the group finds themselves in. Currently, I’m really into Stranger Things.

ABC- Anything but country.