Archive for the ‘Mergers’ Category

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Your Future Will Be Limited

I follow John C. Maxwell on Twitter. Yesterday, he posted the following tweet:

If you’re not identifying the leaders of tomorrow whom you will train up, your potential and your future will always be limited. 

It a simple, short message that speaks volumes to CPAs working in public accounting.  Owners of firms should have heeded this advice many years ago.

Here’s another recent tweet from Maxwell that hits home with CPAs:

No matter what it costs you, the return you receive will eclipse the price. Developing leaders is the most impacting and rewarding thing you can do as a leader.

Baby Boomer CPAs, nearing retirement, have been warned over and over again but few have acted upon the advice and now, their futures are limited. For some, it is merge-up or close-up.

  • Don't let what's uncertain be what defeats you. Instead, let it be what motivates you to keep reaching toward what's possible.
  • John C. Maxwell

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

If I Retire What Will I Do?

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Baby Boomer partners in accounting firms are facing a dilemma. The big question is what to do once they retire.

This challenge causes many to simply ignore retirement and just continue working. Many actually have a great fear of retiring. They picture retirement as spending time around the house and irritating their spouse. The spouses fear this, too! You can only play so much golf.

Because they have put in so many long hours at work during the last 35 years, they haven’t developed many hobbies or other interests outside of the CPA profession.

Stop and think about it. Most CPAs nearing retirement have been involved in numerous community and charitable organizations throughout their careers. They have become very interested in, and actually developed a great passion for, some of those organizations. Devoting time to causes you care about can be an opportunity for many productive years ahead.

WalterLynnJr.LR_-1-720x400I have a wonderful example. One of my former clients and a good friend, Walter Lynn merged his successful CPA practice into another firm a few years ago. While he did stay involved for the appropriate amount of time, he began furthering his strong interest in agriculture and ranching into a great passion – soil! Yes, soil and how the health of our country’s soil should be a greater concern to all of us.

He met numerous, high-profile researchers and experts and his involvement continued to grow and keep him busy doing something he thoroughly enjoyed.

Here’s what happened recently:

In response to an overwhelming demand for regenerative agriculture education and consulting services, Understanding Ag, LLC (UA), today announced the appointment of Walter Lynn, Jr. as its Chief Executive Officer.

Read the full press release here. I am so proud of Walter for taking on something that is so much bigger than grinding out his senior years in tax season after tax season. What are you going to do?

  • Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civiliation.
  • Daniel Webster

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

My Ramblings About Mergers

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

You have observed it. In the last several years, many mid-size firms have merged-up into the Top 100 (the AICPA calls this group the Major Firms Group).

The firms in the Major Firm Group have also joined forces to form even larger CPA firms. It is an interesting time in the CPA profession. The big get bigger and many firms I have known and admired for years have disappeared.

An interesting statistic from the AICPA, almost 40% of the Major Firms Group from the year 2000, no longer exists.

This week’s announcement about Skoda Minotti joining Marcum brought all this to mind. Read the press release here. Marcum has had phenomenal growth and success under Jeffrey Weiner’s leadership.

So, mid-size firms are disappearing. However, mergers don’t always lead to a happy life once the honeymoon is over. A lot of the big mergers will result in spin-offs and smaller firms will form and thrive.

  • I always say, complacency is the kiss of death.
  • Shari Redstone

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

Flashback Friday – Mergers 2019

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

There are major changes ahead for M&A – read more here in this flashback post.

  • Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.
  • Jim Rohn

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Merging Up – Be Aware

“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” – Benjamin Franklin

As the title says, be aware. Maybe I should also add, beware!

It has always been in the back of your mind that when the time comes, you will fund your retirement by simply merging your firm “up” into a larger organization. After all, the M&A market for CPA firms has been very hot for several years. No need to worry because you have no one in your own firm that has the skills, ambition, and desire to buy you out.

Beware, because that is beginning to change dramatically. The larger firms are not so eager to acquire another compliance accounting firm. They are seeking to make their firm more diverse and to bring in companies offering complementary services such as technology consulting, technology security and data analytics.

Here’s an example from a firm I have always admired, LBMC in Nashville:

LMBC, a leading accounting and consulting firm in the US Southeast, has acquired Nashville-based Think Data Insights, a national data analytics company.

Click here to read the article.

  • Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
  • George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Merging Up? Get Ready For Some New Rules

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” – Albert Einstein

Have your merged up? Are you considering merging up? Here’s something to think about and understand.

It comes from a post by @SkipPrichard about a book written by Kevin Kruse – Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business. Read the reviews on the book. It might be one you should have on your summer reading list if you are a leader or aspire to be one.

Yes, this whole book came from a crazy Post-It Notes story. About 20 years ago I had sold my company and joined the new company as a partner, VP, and I reported to the CEO. He had me very excited and committed to the future of the new combined organization and how we would build it together. But then the CFO docked my first expense check by about four dollars. He told me they won’t reimburse my Post-It Notes because it was a wasteful expense. It was a rule—no Post It’s—that I didn’t know about. In that moment, that one rule, suddenly made it clear that this was “their” company, not mine. They were in control, not me.

Many practitioners have learned the hard way that a so-called merger is not what they thought a merger would be like. For the most part, I believe CPA firm mergers work out well. But, not always. Just be prepared for a new way of life.

  • Highly successful people take immediate action on almost every item they encounter.
  • Kevin Kruse,

Friday, May 3rd, 2019

An Opportunity Exists

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

For many years CPAs working in small to mid-size firms have been delighted when a client of a big, national firm realized they were paying way too much for services that a smaller firm could provide in a more affordable manner and with more care and attention.

Sometimes the larger firms will actually refer certain clients to local and regional firms because they were just too small to fit the big firm’s profile. A too small client of a national firm is often a very large client for a local/regional firm.

This opportunity continues, but another opportunity has been created by the merger mania within the CPA profession.

When one of your local competitors merge-up, there will be clients who do not want to be part of the larger, acquiring firm. We usually see the departure of clients after the first tax season. The “new” firm just does not provide the same, intimate client relationship as the former firm. This is partly because their key contact is retiring and a new person has been introduced and partly because the larger firm has different methods and maybe those methods are just not as friendly and comfortable to the smaller firm clients.

Make sure that any client who is dissatisfied with their current firm knows about your firm – build your brand and reputation and be visible in your business community. Even more important, always be in tune with how your own clients feel about your service.

  • Spend a lot time talking to customers fact to face. You'd be amazed how many companies don't listen to their customers.
  • Ross Perot

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

Mergers 2019

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

My firm did its first acquisition/merger in 1993. It was a fast way to grow and to enter a new market. It worked for us and the firm did several more over the years. The firm also acquired non-traditional firms such as an employee benefits firm and a TPA company when it was very unusual to do so.

Things have certainly evolved in the CPA firm M&A market since 1993. During our first merger, all we could think about was not losing clients of the acquired firm. We did not lose clients but we lost employees. We learned from that experience and for the next acquisition around 1996 and going forward, we focused on retaining talented people. It had become more important to retain people than clients.

Daniel Hood of Accounting Today recently interviewed several CPA consultants who focus on M&A. There are major changes ahead for M&A. Valuations of firms are declining. It is becoming a buyer’s market. Acquirers are more selective and do not necessarily want more compliance clients. The cost of technology, going forward, is also an issue, especially for smaller firms.

Be sure to read the interesting article. I know many of you are experiencing a succession dilemma.

  • The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination.
  • Tommy Lasorda

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

How to Become Virtual

“Mergers generate substantial synergies.” – Roger Altman

Virtual CPA firms have been evolving for many years now. Many have gained much notoriety and a substantial client following.

I enjoyed reading this article about my good friends at Beach Fleischman, a Top 200 firm based in Tucson, Arizona. The joined forces with a smaller firm to create a virtual firm, MOD Ventures, that will service both firms’ outsourced accounting services clients going forward.

Read all about it here, via Accounting Today. Maybe it will motivate you and your firm to become more creative and take advantage of virtual opportunities.

  • Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

The Problem With People

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu

I rarely repost someone else’s blog post. I have only done it with Seth Godin’s posts. His recent blog post speaks to all of us at one time or another.

Perhaps, you are new to your firm, trying to learn how to become a successful CPA. Maybe you are a new partner assessing how you can make a difference within the group. With merger mania, maybe you and your firm have been acquired by another firm and things feel very different and troubling.

The Problem With People Is That They Outnumber You

It doesn’t make any sense to spend your life proving them wrong, it’s a losing battle.

Far more effective is the endless work of building connection, forming alliances and finding the very best you can in those you engage with.

You can’t possibly know what it’s like to be someone else, but it’s also true that no one knows what it’s like to be you.

One more reason to put in the effort to find the good.

  • Life becomes easier and more beautiful when we can see the good in other people.
  • Roy T. Bennett