Art of Accounting: Withum State of the Firm 2022

Accounting

Withum held its 13th annual State of the Firm (SOTF) event last Monday. About 300 Withum’ers attended in person at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center theater and 1,200 of us “attended” on Zoom.

It was an exciting four and a half hour presentation and provided data about how we are doing and a glimpse into the many exciting things that are and will be happening. The meeting was run by Bill Hagaman, our CEO/managing partner.

Of special interest to many was the announcement that 17 staff members will be promoted to partner, including five who started their careers at Withum. There was also a projection of the number of new partner promotions that will be needed to be made in the next 10 years. In addition, 95 staff were nominated for eight strength awards and one special award. Each nominee was introduced with a brief description of the extraordinary efforts they expended to make Withum, our team, clients and community stronger. Truly inspiring. They are all winners.

We also had a return presentation by John O’Leary, author of On Fire and In Awe, who gave an inspiring, motivating and sometimes emotional talk that included some insights from his remarkable life. I highly recommend reading his books and inviting him as a keynote speaker.

Last summer I ran a series of joint retreats for partners of small firms, and they expressed an interest in how to create a strong uniform culture among staff in different offices. As part of the discussion I described some of what Withum does and gave them printouts of my previous postings about the SOTF meetings with links to our culture videos. A firm’s Culture (with a capital “C”) doesn’t just materialize the way you want it to. It needs focus, work and deliberate attention. Without that, there will still be a Culture, but it would not be an enviable one. A strong and firmwide Culture is important for staff, client retention and staff recruitment and communicates the presence of an important contributor to the community. It also makes good business sense. The costs (and at Withum they are quite substantial) are more than paid back with happier, excited staff, clients and other stakeholders. Building and strengthening your Culture is more than walking the talk; it needs active management and attention and a commitment by the partners.

Having a strong Culture includes a clear demonstration that the owners care. At Withum this is backed up by many unique benefits that are designed to make life easier for our team. This includes a shadow stock plan, an employee hardship fund, payment for daycare, college loans, a wellness program and fitness challenge, extra firm closing days such as the week between Christmas and New Year’s, volunteer support of 1,300 hours for 35 charitable organizations during the Withum Week of Caring and many other programs, some of which are unique in the accounting profession. It takes imagination, insight, empathy and a determination to make the firm the best it can be for everyone involved with it. And it can be done. Witness Withum’s success.

The SOTF event began with our 13th Culture Video that included appearances by 230 team members from every one of our offices. You can watch it here. Kudos to our marketing team that did a superlative job organizing the event and preparing the video.

If you want a printout of my prior columns describing previous SOTF events, send me an email to GoodiesFromEd@withum.com and just put SOTF as the subject.

This was an exciting event and I am pleased to share it with you. I hope you enjoyed reading about it.

Do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com with your practice management questions or about engagements you might not be able to perform.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People list. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” He also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. He is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where he shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. He welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 743-4582 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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