Carlos Ferreira to Lead Private Equity Services at Grant Thornton

Carlos Ferreira

Carlos Ferreira is the new national MP of private equity services for Chicago-based IPA 100 firm Grant Thornton. Ferreira will assume the role effective August 1, taking over for the retiring Doug Gawrych.

In his new role, Ferreira will lead the strategic direction for a range of private equity services, including areas such as growth, transformation, operations, resilience, compliance and diligence. He will also serve on the firm’s national leadership team, and will retain his role as the global co-leader for transaction advisory services at Grant Thornton International Ltd.

As a transaction advisory partner, Ferreira previously led the advisory services practice for Grant Thornton’s metro New York and New England market territory, supporting transaction strategies for private equity firms and their portfolio companies. His almost 25 years of experience includes work in buy- and sell-side due diligence, integration and exits for private equity investors and cross-border transactions in Europe, South America, Africa, North America and Asia.

“Carlos is an outstanding leader who will step into a critical role during a time of historic disruption and uncertainty,” says Grant Thornton CEO Brad Preber. “He will ensure we are consistently providing quality, value and innovative solutions to help our private equity clients.”

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Dixon Hughes Goodman Taps Kevin Locke to Lead Health Care

Kevin Locke

Charlotte, N.C.-based Dixon Hughes Goodman, an IPA 100 firm, announced Kevin Locke as the new MP of DHG Healthcare, the firm’s national health care practice. Effective June 1, Locke took over the role from Brad Benton, who is retiring on Sept. 30.

Locke was admitted to the DHG partnership in 2010 and has a long history of experience in strategic business planning and execution of implementation frameworks for academic medical centers, complex health systems and large physician enterprises.

“I couldn’t have more confidence in Kevin as he assumes overall responsibility for management of DHG’s largest industry practice,” says Benton. “I’m genuinely excited about Kevin’s unique leadership vision in creating the next generation of opportunity for all of DHG Healthcare’s professionals and for our clients who rely on our world class health care consulting services.”

Baker Tilly Names Ethan Bach MP of Innovation and Solutions

Ethan Bach

Chicago-based Baker Tilly, an IPA 100 firm, has appointed Ethan Bach as MP of innovation and solutions.

Bach has been with the firm since 2002 and has held a number of leadership roles during that time, most recently as MP of the consulting service line. In this new role, he will work across the firm to integrate and scale solutions, sharpen and streamline development and delivery process and propel innovation.

“Ethan is a forward-thinking leader to guide the development of services that anticipate our clients’ changing needs,” says Baker Tilly CEO Alan Whitman.

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BKD Names New MP for Transaction Advisory Services

Chris Dalton

Springfield, Mo.-based BKD, an IPA 100 firm, has named Chris Dalton the new MP of the firm’s transaction advisory services practice effective June 1. He assumes the position from Jerry Henderson, who will be stepping into a new leadership role.

Dalton has almost 16 years of experience in merger and acquisition services and is currently the national practice leader for the firm’s transaction services. He has extensive experience in financial due diligence analysis, transaction structuring, deal negotiation support and post-transaction planning assistance in a wide variety of industries.

“Chris has demonstrated outstanding leadership of our TS practice, having helped fuel double-digit growth for each of the last several years while maintaining excellent financial discipline,” says Henderson. “His skills will be extremely valuable as we navigate through the short- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

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James Cordova Takes Over at Windes

James Cordova

Long Beach, Calif.-based Windes announced that James Cordova has been elected MP to succeed John Di Carlo, who will remain on the firm’s board of directors.

A nearly 30-year veteran of Windes and the chairman of the tax and accounting services department since 2008, Cordova becomes the firm’s eighth MP since its founding in 1926. Specializing in the analysis and selection of business entities, tax factors and implications related to business dissolutions, mergers and acquisitions consulting, Cordova’s practice includes clients in manufacturing, real estate, wholesale fuel, logistics and high-tech sectors, as well as high-net-worth individuals and family offices.

“I’m grateful for John’s leadership these past 11 years as we have grown the firm with two successful mergers, transformed the Windes brand and instituted progressive workflow processes,” says Cordova. “I look forward to continuing to improve and grow the firm. I am confident that the firm will continue to thrive during these unprecedented times.”

Baker Tilly Names Christine Dahlhauser as MP for Wisconsin

Christine Dahlhauser

Chicago-based Baker Tilly, an IPA 100 firm, has appointed Christine Dahlhauser to succeed the retiring Kevin Heppner as MP for the Wisconsin market.

Dahlhauser joined the firm in 1991 and has held a number of leadership roles since that time, most recently as the manufacturing and distribution team leader in the Wisconsin market. In her new role, she will provide leadership, management and strategic direction in the areas of client service delivery, team member development and engagement and strategic growth.

“Christine is uniquely positioned to lead Baker Tilly’s continued success in Wisconsin,” says Baker Tilly CEO Alan Whitman. “She has deep roots in Madison, where our firm was founded, and has been an instrumental leader in the market.”

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Wendy Cama to Lead Audit Services at Crowe

Wendy Cama

Wendy Cama is the new MP of audit services for Chicago-based IPA 100 firm Crowe, taking over the role from Mark Baer, who is preparing to become the firm’s new CEO in April of 2021.

Cama, who recently served as the Northeast regional audit leader for the firm, has more than three decades of audit experience, specializing in the financial services industry. She has held several leadership roles, including being elected as the first woman to chair the Crowe board of directors in 2016. She currently serves as OMP in New York.

“Taking on this new role is not only a well-deserved highlight in Wendy’s accomplished career here at Crowe, but a milestone for the firm as she becomes our first female business unit managing partner,” says Crowe CEO Jim Powers. “Wendy embodies the firm’s core values of care, share, invest and grow. She leads by example and is a trusted resource for her clients and colleagues. Wendy will be an incredible steward for maintaining the highest standards of audit quality for the firm and the profession.”

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Allinial Global Taps Mark Koziel as New President and CEO

Mark Koziel

Allinial Global has selected Mark Koziel as its new president and CEO. Well known and highly regarded within the profession, Koziel was selected from a field of more than 100 qualified candidates to take over the top role in the organization from the retiring Terry Snyder effective Aug. 1.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Mark to Allinial Global, and I look forward to working with him to coordinate a smooth transition,” says Snyder. “Mark’s commitment to serving CPA firms and his longstanding leadership within the profession make him an ideal choice to ensure that Allinial Global continues to lead the way with the innovative strategy and world-class service our members and their clients have come to expect.”

Koziel is currently finishing his tenure as executive vice president of firm services at the AICPA.

“The last 14 years at the AICPA have prepared me for this journey, and I look forward to working with the members of Allinial Global,” he says. “I thank Terry Snyder for his leadership over the past 12 years – it is an honor to carry that leadership forward.”

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Managing Partner Viewpoints from the Archives, Part II: Motivating Partners, Fostering Consensus

Nothing about the job of the MP is easy. The internal and external challenges are many and the pace of change slow and fraught with complications. People issues can be the prickliest to manage, since by definition the MP solves the problems no one else will.

These were among the many observations to emerge from the anonymous, candid responses of more than 70 MPs to a brief survey from INSIDE Public Accounting awhile back that shed welcome light on some of the most common frustrations and rewards they have experienced in the position. During this current period of uncertainty in the profession, their insights on some of the specific topics from that survey seem worth revisiting.

Partner Motivation

Partners are driven in their work by different things – be it money, recognition, prestige, respect or some combination of these – which is why MPs say a one-size-fits-all motivation theory simply won’t work. But getting to know partners on a “deep personal level” can draw out what motivates them, one MP says.

Many MPs say partners must be involved in setting firm goals, but they also need to be pushed and held accountable. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to balance the needs of individuals with the greater good of the firm, “especially if those actions don’t involve client service,” one MP says. It’s no surprise, then, that more than one MP commented in regard to the challenge of partner motivation: “It’s like herding cats.”

Beyond that common refrain, some of the MPs’ non-feline observations on the topic are applicable to a variety of situations, including:

“I wish someone had told me that most partners are happy with the status quo.”

“Sometimes it’s impossible to motivate partners. You can take away money, prestige, etc., but with today’s personnel shortage, they can just leave and someone will take them on at the same pay rate and benefit level.”

“Most CPAs are hardwired pessimists.”

“Figuring out what motivates them is challenging enough. Once you do that, you have to figure out how to best motivate them and keep the motivating factors aligned with the strategic plans of the firm.”

“Money is the No. 1 motivator that they don’t totally control. All else is based on self-motivation.”

“Not every partner is as successful as they think they are. Find what they need to keep working on, otherwise they coast.”

“Don’t spend time on the naysayers. Move on. Work with those who are enthusiastic and want to make it work. Recognize them, share the results and communicate often. Those who are naysayers will usually come around and adapt.”

“Use guaranteed payments and bonuses as the primary form of compensation rather than draws and distributions.”

“As much as individual partners will agree with required policy or necessary change, when the change touches them, the resistance can be as significant as one who overtly disagrees. The amount of managing partner time and energy necessary to maintain partner buy-in is significant.”

The Importance (and Limitations) of Consensus

When it comes to making big decisions, some MPs seek complete consensus on a range of issues, while some prefer to act quickly and inform partners afterward, and others only go to partners for big decisions. Many MPs said a small, efficient executive committee helps tremendously when the partner group gets too large, with one noting that a “democratic, very inclusive decision process” only works well if the partner group is eight or less.

The first thing an MP must do is determine which issues require consensus. One MP says, “I find the balance by deciding how much consensus to get, based on the issue. It is rarely good to make any decision quickly AND without consulting at least someone or a few persons. That said, sometimes time is of the essence and after at least a brief gut check with one or two others, you have to make the decision and prepare yourself to defend it without changing directions.”

Different MPs, not surprisingly, have different approaches to decision-making in their firms:

“We have set agreements and PICs of certain areas. They can make all decisions over their area and only certain decisions need an all-partner vote.”

“Only large decisions like new partner promotions and a merger or acquisition go to the full partner group. Some partners push back as they feel like they should have a say on all decisions, but that’s just not realistic. We have to get the work done.”

“I seek complete agreement. Will discuss to reach agreement among the group.”

“Communicate. Give everyone the opportunity to voice their opinions, but it must be clear that the MP will do what he/she believes is best for the firm given the fact that the MP knows more about the inner workings of the firm than anyone else in the group. It’s important that partners understand that it’s OK to not agree with the MP’s decisions, but they must accept them and allow the MP to do his or her job.”

One MP warns that consensus is not always best. “Sometimes decisions have to be made that are not popular. Many times decisions directly affect specific partners and they are probably not going to like the result. You are not the managing partner because you always please everyone. You are in that position because your partners trust you and your decision-making with their livelihood.”

Communication is, as always, a critical part of a well-functioning partner group. One-on-one time with partners is important to explain the whys and hows of issues that require tough decisions. MPs appreciate the ability to talk with a few partners who are willing to serve as a sounding board before decisions are made. There’s no such thing as over-communicating, and patience is key. As one MP put it, “Change is slower than you want it to be and never as easy as you expect it to be.”

From finding ways to motivate their people to determining how to best arrive at key decisions amid trying times and challenging circumstances, these are insights that many MPs may find worth revisiting in the here and now.

Managing Partner Viewpoints from the Archives, Part I: Promoting Alignment, Parsing Advice

While deep industry knowledge, technical expertise and the ability to bring in business are all de rigueur for MPs, today’s leaders must also have the skills to handle the messier challenges of a rapidly changing business environment.

This was among the many observations to emerge from the anonymous, candid responses of more than 70 MPs to a brief survey from INSIDE Public Accounting awhile back that shed welcome light on some of the most common frustrations and rewards they have experienced in the position. During this current period of uncertainty in the profession, their insights on two topics from that survey feel particularly relevant and instructive.

What one thing do you wish someone told you when you became MP about aligning the firm behind a common vision?

The Importance of Alignment

MPs aim to make a common, firmwide vision their guiding light, encouraging everyone to work toward the same goals and operate with the same values in mind. It’s a huge challenge, but one of the most important parts of the top job. Respondents generally agreed that alignment is the top priority for any MP. Most recommended to start articulating the firm’s vision on the first day, making it clear and compelling, ensuring it fits with the partners’ individual goals and compensation plans, and remaining vigilant.

These MPs also noted that over-communicating the vision and embodying that vision in every decision and action were crucial components of getting the message across. It’s a goal that one respondent said requires him to be “as much psychologist as MP some days.” Some of the other comments on alignment from MPs included:

“I wish they had told me that this would take time, and that simply saying it once or twice or communicating it in one or two presentations would not be enough. Alignment can be a 12- to 24-month process if done well, so patience is needed to carry this out.”

“Do it sooner rather than later. Lack of common vision is a really big deal; you may not think so, but it really is.”

“Many partners have their own agenda and goals in mind. It is challenging to try to get them to change their goals to ones that would be more beneficial to the overall good of the firm.”

“Partners will say they are behind a vision but watch what they do more than what they say.”

“Compensation structures drive behavior and must align with the vision. If they aren’t aligned, compensation structure will dictate behavior.”

“You will have competing interests at the firm and making sure everyone is aligned on a compelling and differentiating vision will move the firm forward as one. If there is no common vision, the firm will be a sub-par performer.”

When alignment works, respondents said the rewards are palpable. One MP expressed pleasure in seeing everyone “pulling in the same direction,” after a strategic planning process that involved input from all parts of the firm. The result? A newly energized team.

What one piece of advice did you receive about being MP that didn’t turn out to be true?

Differentiating Between Good and Bad Advice

Most MPs were given advice about taking on the top job that turned out to be untrue, while many were relieved that some of the warnings were unneeded. In other words, take most advice going in with a grain of salt, including some of the unfounded advice that our MPs encountered on their way to the top job (accompanied by their comments):

Expect to make more money – “That hasn’t occurred to my satisfaction.”

You can’t please everyone – “While that may be true, we can seek to build positive relationships with all and show them that we care about them.”

It’s a miserable job – “It’s hard, a lot of work and a lot of stress, but it’s not miserable.”

It gets easier – “Turns out, if you grow and merge practices, that is not true.”

You are the boss – “The opposite is really the truth – you work for the benefit of everyone in your firm.”

Dealing with employees is the most difficult part of the job – “Dealing with the partners is more work.”

Keep paying partners more and they’ll follow you – “Partners want increased compensation and the right to challenge leadership and direction.”

Young partners will never develop business like the senior partners – “Our young partners have risen up HUGE and helped take the firm to a much higher and profitable level once those senior partners finally retired.”

Many MPs wouldn’t change a thing, despite misperceptions, stresses and the difficult decisions required. One respondent said that the “visionary/entrepreneurial aspects of the MP role far outweigh the challenges. It is a great opportunity to lead and have a lot of fun learning from peers.” Another added that “I love it, find it rewarding and wouldn’t want to do anything else. It has some frustrating moments, but by far, I love being an entrepreneur and building on the legacy we have started to create.”

These are the types of positive thoughts about the position that MPs will do well to keep in mind as they navigate the challenging waters ahead.