Michael Biondo, a tax manager at the Buffalo, N.Y.-basedfirm of Freed Maxick CPAs PC -- also know as as Duke Maynard von dem Steine in the Kingdom of AEthelmearc -- was recently selected as Accounting Today's newest Accountant of the Month.
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The news was posted on Accounting Today's Facebook page. Biondo's passion for recreating the chivalrous era of the Middle Ages proves that "accountants aren't boring."
Biondo has been with Freed Maxick for 12 years, but what most of his clients and colleagues don't know is that he's an armored combat fighter and has been a member of the Society of Creative Anachronism for 22 years. "I try not to vocalize it too much because I don't want them to think that I'm wacky," said Biondo. "People who do find out are amazed and they think it's really cool because it's original. When they see pictures of me in a tunic, they call it a dress. It doesn't bother me because it's part of who I am and I've been doing it for a long time."
Biondo found his calling at the age of 18 when he was a freshman at the University of Buffalo. He saw a student dressed head to toe in combat armor posting SCA flyers around campus. He attended a meeting and has been hooked ever since.
Biondo journeyed into the Kingdom of AEthelmearc, located in the western part of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. He moved up the community ladder by winning fighting awards, which earned him the title of a knight. It usually takes more than 10 years of service and weekly fencing and combat training to become a knight. "It's like getting your black belt in karate. Once you're a knight, you're a knight forever."
As a knight, Biondo was able to take on his next challenge ... becoming the king of AEthelmearc. Each kingdom has a king and queen who reign over the land for six months. First-time kings are honored with the title of count, and countess for a queen. Those who become king and queen more than once are named duke and duchess. "I've actually been a king of our kingdom twice," he said, explaining that there isn't a limit to how many times a person can rule over a kingdom - as long as they keep winning tournaments. Biondo will take another shot at the crown when he competes in October.
Given that Biondo has ruled as king more than once, he now goes by Duke Maynard von dem Steine. It's a "persona" that he picked when he joined the society. The personas are usually people who may have lived in the Middle Ages, and Biondo's persona was a 14th century German crusader. "I have German roots in my family, and I have always been interested in the northern crusades in Prussia and Lithuania."
When Biondo isn't managing tax engagements for midsized companies that are clients at Freed Maxick, he spends at least two hours a week perfecting his sword-fighting skills and training squires, young men preparing to become knights. "It's definitely a different way to spend time than on a golf course," he said.
"Becoming Accountant of the Month is a great honor. In the last few months I passed the CPA Exam and have been promoted to manager, so this was icing on the cake," said Biondo. His winnings include free registration for the Accounting Today Growth & Profitability Summit this fall and a personalized caricature.
Read more about the contest, and see our next AotM, on our Facebook page.