The Growth Partnership merges with IPA


The Growth Partnership has combined with Inside Public Accounting, bringing together the consultancy that administers the Rosenberg Survey of practice management at firms with a publication that does its own high-profile surveys and rankings of firms.

Both organizations will now be working together to provide thought leadership and benchmarking surveys centered around the accounting profession. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In addition to administering the Rosenberg Survey, St. Louis-based TGP helps accounting firms with practice management, outsourced marketing and lead generation. In 2020, Engineered Tax Services, an engineering company that works closely with CPA and accounting firms on specialty tax services, acquired TGP and its ABLE CRM platform (see story).

Carmel, Indiana-based Inside Public Accounting, under the direction of principals Kelly and Michael Platt, produces its annual IPA National Practice Management Survey, along with three internal operational surveys and corresponding reports, and publishes a monthly practice management newsletter. IPA also hosts an annual conference built around the IPA Best of the Best firms. The IPA team of five employees, including the Platts, will be working with TGP under the new partnership.

“I’d consider it a merger of two great organizations, coming together to do what each of us is already doing, and to do it better,” said Michael Platt. This is really an opportunity to help firms of all sizes improve what they’re doing.”

Charles Hylan

Both organizations see advantages in working in combination. “It’s definitely a 1+1=5, and we’re very excited about it,” said TGP managing director Charles Hylan. “The accounting world is changing so quickly and the challenges these firms are facing are tremendous, and this merger provides us an opportunity to do what both organizations are already in the business of doing, and that is to help make firms better — whether through marketing and training, or benchmarking, or sharing best practices — and we’re both dedicated to that.”

The Rosenberg Survey and the IPA National Practice Management Survey will stay separate and independent, while each continues to provide data to their own audiences. Both surveys will launch on Jan. 18.

While the surveys will remain independent, the two organizations expect to see benefits from having them under one umbrella. “Clearly, on product lines that we have in common — our surveys — there’s a lot of best practices we can learn from each other, and really bring the best of both organizations to both, while keeping them independent,” said Platt. “They serve different markets, but together, we can bring the best of both to both services. On areas where we don’t share product and services, those fit nicely together for referrals, in terms of the overall approach of what we can bring to public accounting firms. The Growth Partnership brings pieces of the puzzle, and we do, and they connect together very well.”

Hylan sees important distinctions between the two surveys. “To outsiders, the Rosenberg Survey and the IPA National Practice Management Survey look like they do the same thing, but they’re very different surveys, and firms participate in one or the other for many different reasons,” he said. “Now, all of our clients can choose either one, and we both win. It doesn’t matter to us — we want them to participate in the one that makes the most sense for them.”

Engineered Tax Services will be the parent company of the combined organizations. “ETS’ role in IPA will be very limited,” said Hylan. “It’s a little more active on The Growth Partnership side, simply because it refers clients into TGP. We’ve gotten more clients because of that. But I don’t see ETS driving people to the IPA survey or to the Prime Symposium, and it’s not going to drive newsletter subscriptions.”

Hylan and TGP managing shareholder Jeff Pawlow discussed the potential deal with the Platts, and they agreed to join forces. “We did not enter into this partnership with The Growth Partnership because of anything that ETS brings to table,” said Platt. “We’ve known Charles and Jeff Pawlow for a long, long time as friendly competitors, and we started the conversation recently about the fact that there’s a lot more that we can do together. ETS just happens to be the parent company.”

New products may be coming from the combined firms. “We are brainstorming new projects,” said Platt. “The IPA survey has been active for 30 years and the Rosenberg Survey for over 20 years — we’ve got a tremendous amount of data. The data world is extracting a lot more value out of data than before, and we’ve got a tremendous amount of data that we can deploy into accounting in a positive way.”

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