October 28, 2019 BMF Insights

There aren’t many things that remain the same after 60 years. In fact, it’s hard to think of anything that’s done the same as it was 60 years ago – think about communication, the evolution of our workforce, the Internet and the computer. Computers once filled an entire room and now they fit in your pocket and on your wrist.

Public accounting is no exception. We’d yet to discover the challenges and disruptors driving us today, such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and the war for talent.

But when Stanley Bober launched what’s become BMF 60 years ago, little has changed from the core values he felt were truly important for a thriving business to survive:

  • Be a trusted advisor
  • Take pride in your work
  • Respect everyone
  • Building and cultivating relationships
  • Give back to your community
  • Keep learning
  • Challenge each other
  • Remain independent

“Thinking back, it’s astonishing how the same principles and philosophies Stan might speak to at a staff meeting would be nearly the very same words I’d use today,” says Rick Fedorovich. “Stan had such a clear compass for the business that it was very easy to continue embracing these values over the 23 years I’ve been serving as Managing Partner. And while very little of our foundation has changed, I’m sure he’d be quite pleased to see how many more associates there are in the room now.”

“While very little of our foundation has changed, I’m sure [Stan Bober] would be quite pleased to see how many more associates there are in the room now.”

– Rick Fedorovich

 

  • In the last 60 years, we’ve seen tremendous advances and changes, not only with our leadership but also our size, reach and range of services.
  • We’ve grown to a presence that now has a global reach, far beyond our Akron roots and downtown Cleveland extension.
  • We’ve further defined our identity with a brand position that marries the tradition of our roots with the evolution and talent of our next generation of leaders.
  • We’ve expanded beyond traditional services, providing a more comprehensive advisory offering to better complement the growing needs of our clients – in management, regulatory, local and global capacities.
  • Our new Cyber Technology Group practice aims to equip businesses with the skills, tools and resources needed to run an effective IT department while protecting one of their most valuable assets – their data
  • And as we celebrate our 60th anniversary, we also celebrate our ranking as one of the industry’s Top 200 firms, moving into the nation’s upper tier of CPA firms.

And while many firms have sprouted ancillary services to grow their bottoms lines, we have not yielded to the temptation and have maintained alignment throughout our core competency areas.

“It’s pretty exciting to have been here for more than half the firm’s existence,” says Cindy Johnson, a Partner in the firm who’s been part of BMF for over 30 years and played an instrumental role in its growth. “Having worked with Stan and now alongside Rick in bringing the firm to where we are today, I feel proud knowing that now I’m a part of our history – our legacy.”

“The firm is certainly different, not just in size but in how we operate. Stan often spoke to the importance of remaining independent – which Rick has continued to infuse under his leadership. And here we are, 60 years later as one of the Top 200 firms in the nation and one of the very few independent regional firms remaining in Northeast Ohio.”

Cindy also noted that being independent is now even more important to clients. “Clients want to know that we’re right there next to them, in their neighborhoods, working alongside them to provide the best outcome. They want to know that we are not simply a geographical extension of a firm headquartered hundreds of miles away. And it’s just as important to our staff – they can walk into our office and speak directly to the people they need. We can make decisions on the spot instead of regional protocols made through other offices. Being independent, and local does mean a lot to younger professionals in our industry.”

While Cindy and Rick bring the context of their vast experience at BMF to interpreting the impact of a 60th anniversary, it begs the question of whether it carries the same meaning for young professionals joining the firm today. Is a 60-year legacy even relevant to this next generation of BMF employees?

Jessica Martinelli, who joined BMF in 2017 after several years at a national firm, was not only aware of our history but was impressed by it.

“Hearing the story of our evolution has been pretty impressive, particularly with all the growth and progress over the past ten years,” she said. “Obviously, a lot is different than when they [Rick and Cindy] started, but a lot is still the same – focus on being a trusted advisor, apply a good work ethic and build the right connections. Rick always talks about how the firm helped him build a career and what he was doing at my age. It makes it easier to see how I can apply those same practices he followed to launch my career here as well.”

“Hearing the story of our evolution has been pretty impressive…obviously, a lot is different…but a lot is still the same.”

– Jessica Martinelli

 

For Jessica, reflecting on the 60th anniversary isn’t only a chance to look back in the past, but an opportunity to think about what’s coming next. She is part of our workforce that is helping to create future practices and procedures for BMF and beyond.

“We’re already rolling out new software, workflow and technology ideas. With a firm our size, we’re big enough to try the latest tools and practices and are able to adapt and execute more rapidly than a large entity. We can introduce something, get immediate feedback, make rapid changes and get collective input from everyone to improve what we’re doing.” Jessica added.

Andrew Futty spent four years in our audit practice before transitioning into our Transaction Advisory Service practice. He connects the 60th anniversary in his mind with new initiatives for the future.

“I’m particularly excited about the impact that our new Cyber Technology Group will have for the firm and for our clients. Most firms our size don’t have the in-house technology expertise that we’re able to offer. It goes far beyond simply having a secure portal for document uploads but involves a far more sophisticated approach to IT that’s needed in our industry. Our industry is being redefined by security, blockchain, A.I. and more, so it’s critical that we lead these changes for our clients, not just respond and react.”

“Our leadership hasn’t looked at a 60-year anniversary as a stopping point, but more as a milestone. Looking back was a way to energize us to new ways of investing in young talent and partners and placing a real priority on remaining relevant and in front of our profession,” Andrew added.

“Our leadership hasn’t looked at a 60-year anniversary as a stopping point, but more as a milestone.”

– Andrew Futty

 

So while 60 years in business may be an abstract number to some, it’s a source of pride and yet another launching point for #teamBMF.

About the Authors

Stephanie E. Smith

Marketing & Communications Specialist, Marketing Department

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