IPA Spotlight On … Frank Longobardi, CohnReznick

Frank Longobardi

Frank Longobardi

Name: Frank P. Longobardi

Title: Partner, Chief Executive Officer

Firm Name: CohnReznick LLP

Number of Offices: 30

Number of Employees: 2,700

Accomplishments:

  • Co-founded Haggett Longobardi in 1984, which combined practices with J.H. Cohn in 2007.
  • Led the management of J.H. Cohn’s industry practice groups and was a member of the firm’s management committee.
  • Served on the Go-to-Market Committee that developed the strategy for the new firm’s industry practices and geographic markets during the J.H. Cohn and Reznick Group combination in 2012.
  • Member of CohnReznick’s Executive Board since the firm’s founding in 2012.
  • Elected CEO in 2015.

You’re about to begin serving CohnReznick in a new role, CEO, starting in October. Do you have a ‘First 100 Days’ plan or something similar?

My vision for the next four years – our “2020 Vision” – has three important pillars: growth, culture and client service. To share my vision, I’m planning to visit each of our regions over the next few months, in order to meet team members and talk with them in person. I’m challenging each and every one of them to be the best they can be, and want to do it the right way, face-to-face. I’m also working with the Executive Board to establish our strategic plan for 2016 and set key initiatives for the broader leadership team.

Any short- or long-term plans for the firm that you’d like to share?

Short-Term Plans (next 12 months): For the short term, we’ll continue to build out our financial center offices in Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, DC-Metro and Atlanta. We’ll focus on industry specialization with an emphasis on our national practices – affordable housing, commercial real estate, renewable energy and private equity. We’ll also look to grow our advisory practice, both geographically and by enhancing service offerings. Internally, we have a major strategic focus on identifying and developing future leaders along with other cultural initiatives.

Long-Term Plans: Longer term, our goal is to grow revenues to the $900 million to $1 billion range. We’ll get there by maximizing those “short-term” opportunities I mentioned earlier and capitalizing on strategic mergers, but in the end, profitable growth is more important than top-line growth. We’ll also be working toward streamlining our audit methodology and more efficiently utilizing our operations in India.

Another important priority for us is to make sure we have significant opportunities for growth for our employees. We’ll aggressively work toward becoming known as one of the best places to work in accounting for entry levels through experienced laterals.

imageb08366In which practice area do you expect the most growth over the next 12 to 18 months?

We’re looking for growth opportunities across the business, but our advisory practice should lead the way for growth over the next 12 to 18 months. I expect the advisory practice to add market share exponentially, and grow from $90 million to $120 million in the next three years.

I see the practice’s strengths in five key areas: technology and innovation, including cyber-security; valuations; business restructuring and forensic accounting; business process improvement; and transaction advisory services.

And we’ll continue to build and acquire top talent in the advisory practice and engage our people with opportunities to learn and grow.

What’s the biggest challenge your firm is facing now, and how is the team addressing it?

One of the top challenges that I’ve given myself and my leadership team is to be known as one of the best places to work in the accounting profession. That means a commitment to identifying, engaging with and developing future leaders. We’re also making it a priority to recruit top talent in every area, from client service to practice management. I’m calling for leadership transparency, and making sure that our team members’ opinions and ideas are heard and considered.

Which leadership qualities best ensure success at CohnReznick?

It all comes down to client service – providing world-class service to our clients is a given, but it is more than just words. World-class client service includes having a passion for excellence, knowing our clients’ industries, communicating effectively with our clients and providing value-added ideas to each relationship. At CohnReznick, this overall belief in client service forms the basis for our decision-making, organizational structure, recruiting strategy and all that we do.

Can you share any advice for new CPAs joining the profession?

The advice I give to all new CPAs, whether they are joining CohnReznick, or I’m meeting them at industry events, is this: Be more than an excellent technician. This profession changes rapidly. Have passion for your work by embracing change and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. To that end, make sure to join a firm that has a culture of learning, development and mentoring, and one that provides exposure to a variety of services and experiences.

Any final thoughts you’d like to leave us with?

CohnReznick, which formed in 2012 from the combination of two industry leaders, has been a wonderful success story. Through the extraordinary leadership of Tom Marino and Ken Baggett, we’ve been able to enjoy tremendous growth and opportunity. I am pleased that Ken will now be our first Chairman of the Board and that Tom will continue as a member of the Executive Board until May 2016. I am honored to have worked with them and to have their support as we begin this new chapter.

Know someone else who would make a good spotlight? Contact Christina Camara.