IPA Spotlight On … Michelle Arnold, PrimeGlobal

Name: Michelle Arnold

Title: North American Chief Regional Officer

Association Name: PrimeGlobal

Number of Member Firms: 53 in North America, 300 worldwide

Michelle Arnold

Michelle Arnold

What three words best describe the culture of PrimeGlobal firms?

Influential, Inspiring and Engaging.

PrimeGlobal member firms are very collaborative and transparent at every level of their practice. They actively participate in association events, calls, webinars and roundtables but also individually seek like-minded firms for consultation and referrals. Our firms inspire each other to grow profitably while developing leaders and community-minded professionals. PrimeGlobal firms are savvy, sophisticated and results-driven. This culture resulted in eight IPA 2015 Best of the Best Firms. I enjoy working with focused visionaries who strategically plan and execute. This environment challenges me and the staff to meet and exceed member expectations.

What do your member firms want to learn more about?

Other member firms.

PrimeGlobal firms value relationships a great deal. Although we leverage technology to make connections and facilitation efficient and effective, it doesn’t replace in-person interaction. To meet this member desire for face-to-face collaboration while respecting time limitations, PrimeGlobal has moved roundtables, leadership workshops and development classes into member firm training rooms. This has been very successful, allowing host firm professionals to network with attendees, who discover “where the magic happens” – in their colleagues’ offices. It is obviously cost-effective as well, allowing PrimeGlobal to increase these opportunities. This has been accomplished without sacrificing member experience at traditional conferences. PrimeGlobal is also utilizing video more than ever; for example, member firms “introduce” their firm expertise and culture with a three-minute video that’s broadcast worldwide.

What’s the biggest challenge your association is facing now and how are you trying to tackle it?

Building bench strength and recruiting and retaining high yield, low maintenance professionals in our member firms.

This is central to firm culture and an obvious succession challenge. We have assisted the PrimeGlobal firms by providing an opportunity for highly motivated and skilled professionals to follow a structured path to achieve their own personal career goals as well as becoming a leader in their firms’ future and within PrimeGlobal itself. Instructed by the Succession Institute, this custom, exclusive leadership program includes a two-day business development boot camp, a year-long manager leadership program, a two-year partner leadership program and a semi-annual graduate workshop. The program fosters networking within the association at all levels.

PrimeGlobal_color_blktext_TAGLINEYou have an interesting background that includes being National Sales Manager for Guess Jeans. How did your wholesale experience help prepare you for your current position at PrimeGlobal?

The complexity of leveraging a brand and organizational decision-making is very similar. At Guess Jeans I was responsible for national alliances with department stores. I assumed a key role in structuring and negotiating business proposals that built powerful relationships and strategic alliances at many levels of retail organizations. The growth perspective that comes from the fast pace of retail management and relationship development has certainly helped us add 12 new member firms in North America in the past couple of years. I developed and applied risk-taking skills, identification of trends, persuasion and negotiation skills that promoted a profitable relationship for both parties. Who would have thought PrimeGlobal and Guess Jeans would have much in common?

What are some opportunities for accounting firms that are under the radar at this point?

  • Process improvement of commoditized services.
  • Advisory services focusing on judiciousness and insight, in particular, wealth management services and trust and estate planning.
  • High value, high margin, knowledge-based services such as consulting, information analysis, CFO and controllership work.
  • Becoming more “management accountants” by focusing on forecasting and decision-making, using information to advise clients on how their businesses can become future-ready and grow profitably with strategic planning.