Name: Jeff Drummonds
Title: CEO and Managing Shareholder
- Elected in 2015 as MP of Brentwood, Tenn.-based LBMC (FY16 net revenue of $84.4 million).
- Served as leading partner of LBMC’s tax services practice. Over the course of his 30-year career, he has coordinated tax services to more than 20 public companies.
- Serves on the board of trustees of The Southern Federal Tax Institute and as board member, Williamson County Chamber of Commerce
You were elected to the managing partner position last year after 14 years at the firm. At that time, firm co-founder David Morgan said you know that “attracting great talent to LBMC is imperative to bringing in great clients.” Can you tell us more?
Our shared vision is to make LBMC the best choice for clients and colleagues. To grow our business, we must evolve with our clients, which means we have to constantly develop new skills and deepen our bench. It’s an extremely competitive market these days, and recruiting the right people to join our organization – high performers who share our core values and vision – is the key to our long-term success. We believe in a circular approach to growth: attracting high performers with unique skills and strong relationships allows us to serve more complex and interesting clients, which in turn makes our firm more appealing to high performers.
You’ve seen the firm grow to about 500 employees, nine operating companies and expansion beyond Brentwood to Chattanooga and Knoxville. What’s your growth strategy? Do you foresee LBMC expanding beyond Tennessee?
We chose to sit on the sidelines watching firms merge over the past few years. We are focused on recruiting “needle movers” to the firm, which we sometimes refer to as mini-mergers, deepening our relationships with existing clients and nationalizing several service offerings. We are also pursuing strategic joint ventures to expand our capabilities and opportunities. We have little enthusiasm for mergers driven by succession issues or lack of growth. We are also finding that our growth is not limited by geographic boundaries. We serve clients in 47 states, and a substantial part of our growth is outside Tennessee. In today’s business environment our experience shows it is no longer necessary to have a storefront in every market to serve clients.
What practice areas are ripe for growth at LBMC?
We have a pretty unique and comprehensive service offering for a top-50 accounting firm. In addition to our traditional accounting and advisory practices, our nine operating companies provide technology, human resource and wealth management solutions. We are making substantial investments and enjoying strong market acceptance in our IT assurance and managed security services, transaction advisory, wealth management and valuation and litigation support practices. From an industry perspective, we continue to see strong activity in our private equity and health care segments.
Now that you’ve been in the role for more than a year, what is the most challenging part of being a leader?
The past 18 months have undoubtedly been both the most challenging and rewarding of my career. I probably didn’t fully appreciate the challenges around controlling the agenda, or even more simply managing the calendar. One thing I have always enjoyed about public accounting is you never know what the day is going to bring. And that is certainly true in my new role! As I look back on the past year I now have a better appreciation of the art of managing change while at the same time maintaining the core values and culture that helped us be successful in the first place.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice when you were new to accounting, what would it be?
I try to spend time meeting with our college recruits and interns, and they frequently ask me what does it take to be successful in public accounting. All of them are smart, motivated and eager to learn, so I advise them to focus on three things: find a mentor, focus on building relationships both inside and outside the firm and be intellectually curious in everything they do. I also ask them to try their best to live our core value of “striving to strike a balance to make a good living and live a great life.” I’ve not always got that part right.