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Withum SOTF Meeting

January 10, 2017

I had a blog scheduled for today on what the investment charts tell us and a second blog for Thursday on measuring your investment performance. I am pushing the chart blog to Thursday and the performance blog until Jan 23. Next week I will write about Presidential Inaugurations. I decided to write today about a fantastic event my firm had last night and wanted to share my excitement about it.

Each year Withum has a State of the Firm (SOTF) meeting where our team members come together to get an update of how we are doing and a look at where we are going and new initiatives. The three hour presentation was presided over by Bill Hagaman, our CEO/Managing Partner. A lot is happening with us and what we are doing is a good model for other growing companies to adapt.

The program began with a first viewing of the new SOTF video. This year’s video dispelled the myth of the green eye shaded pocket saver accountant. It showed many of our staff and partners in various work hard / play hard fun activities. To view the 2½ minute video Click here.

The theme of the program was Strength in Innovation. We are developing innovative initiatives in almost every facet of our practice – in client service, staffing, growth, marketing, administrative and management. Each thing Bill told us about gave eye-opening road maps of where we want to improve or develop toward and why, where we are, where we want to end up and how far we are on the path to innovative growth.

Strength in client service is and has to be our number one objective. To better serve our growing clients our firm has been reconstituted into niche segments and cross niche collaboration. This was started a few years ago and has transformed us into major players in most of the industries we serve. The listing of these niches is many and thorough and can be found on our website, but if you are a client you already know of our strong and deep strength in your industry.

Strength in staffing is always an issue especially with a growing business. One way to handle this is to reduce turnover and increase training and opportunities for growth. To that end we have created a chief talent officer and have established staff level specific training in technical skills and client service. We also just eliminated mandatory nights and weekend work during tax season and substituted a flex time arrangement with annual production benchmarks. In our profession the tax season hours has always been a problem and this new paradigm should remove much of the “boxed in” feeling and create individual empowerment for work scheduling. Of course, client requirements and time deadlines must be respected.

Strength in growth and solutions is something every business should plan for. Growth in revenues, numbers of clients, partners and staff and profits. Bill shared with us, as he does every year, the budget and projections and where we are and how far we are from reaching our pre-set goals and what changes were made from last year’s budget. We are healthily ahead of every target that was set just a year ago and well on our way to a very successful year ahead. Bill also shared a proud graft showing 42 consecutive years of revenue growth.

Strength in marketing is essential for growth, but also to maintain existing business and to spawn organic growth from present clients. It is also necessary to help create and support the existing firm culture. We were introduced to new innovative marketing programs and the media we will be using. Part of the internal marketing is the SOTF event. I must say that I found everything about the program exciting. Further the graphics were out of this world. Our graphic designer – Jin Park – out did herself. Fantastic!

Strength in administrative support is necessary for smooth functioning of any multi office business. A professional service firm has unique issues in that almost any person in the firm can need admin support and can regularly interact with the admin people. I am happy to say that we have our act together in this area with strong people.

Strength in management growth is necessary. We have a restructured management structure with an organization chart that brings forth the best people for each essential function. We also have targets for admitting new partners for the next seven years. This year we will be admitting nine new partners. I am happy and proud to announce that two of the new partners are people I work with in my New Brunswick office. One of whom started with us as an intern and will be our youngest partner; and the other moved to our area with one year experience, so both are home grown. They will join a group of partners where about half started their careers with Withum. To me, this is the best recruiting pitch we can make. There are great and real opportunities here.

Bill presented our annual Strength awards to staff that exhibited extraordinary efforts with great results during the past year and is a highlight to see along with the activities of everyone that was nominated for each award. A client was also invited to speak about the importance of their collaboration with Withum and the benefits we brought to his company and the importance of the work we did in assisting in his company’s successful growth. We do things and we have ways to them, and this client provided the why we do what we do and the collaborative nature of our interactions.

Half of the 800 people at the SOTF event were millennials. We are a young firm with a strong 42 year history. I spoke with and networked with partners and staff from our five New Jersey offices, and our Manhattan, Boston, Philadelphia and Orlando offices. It is amazing how many people you really get to know because of these firm wide events. The event was held at the Liberty Science Center which was closed for our event and we had the museum to ourselves after the dinner that was served, but I spent my time soaking up the camaraderie with my cohorts that I do not see as often as I would like.

There is a lot more, but this is a good place to stop. Thanks for reading this blog and if you have a business, hopefully you can use some of this as a start to develop your innovative initiatives.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill McGovern permalink
    January 10, 2017 10:02 am

    Fred Withum lived in Milltown, NJ a while back. His house was behind my aunt and uncle’s. In an over the backyard fence conversation with my uncle, Fred said he was going to build a leading accounting firm. Glad to hear that you have fulfilled his dream.

  2. Ed Mendlowitz permalink
    January 10, 2017 10:05 am

    He did it in a great way! He planted the seeds.

  3. Steven Oberg permalink
    January 10, 2017 1:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing. The video was great!

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