Armanino announces leadership transition

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Top 100 Firm Armanino LLP announced that managing partner Andy Armanino will retire at the end of 2018, with the firm’s current chief operating officer, Matt Armanino, taking the helm on Jan. 1, 2019.

Andy Armanino joined the San Ramon, Calif.-based firm in 1989, and has been MP since 2005, growing its revenues tenfold to $248 million in 2017, with 10 offices and almost a thousand employees. He also led the firm’s expansion from its California base to include presences in Texas and Illinois.

His younger brother Matt Armanino joined the firm as COO in 2008, after more than a decade in executive positions at technology companies, and has been a member of its executive committee for the past nine years. Besides managing operations, he has led the firm’s CFO advisory and cloud consulting practices, and more than quadrupled its CFO solutions revenue.

“I don’t know if there has been a higher-performing or more admired firm in the profession over the past two decades than Armanino,” said Allan Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group. “Andy Armanino has been our profession’s ‘Bill Gates’ and became the leader that other CEOs tried to emulate. He has always been about ‘giving back,’ whether it be to those who seek his counsel or giving back to the community.”

“And Matt Armanino has all the skills and talents to take the helm and I don’t think the firm will miss a beat,” Koltin continued. “Given that Armanino is based in the Bay area, I can only compare it to when Steve Young took over for Joe Montana as quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. It may have been a different leadership style and skill set, but the results were still the same!”

The transition and the future

The firm began planning the transition several months ago, after Andy informed the executive committee about his planned retirement -- but in some senses, they’ve been preparing for it for years.

“One of the nice things about this transition is that being COO has allowed Andy and I to work hand in glove on most of the things we’re doing,” explained Matt. “We both had visibility into all the workings of the firm, and that’s helped with the goals of the transition and making sure it’s seamless over the next 10 months.”

The brothers have worked together on the strategic approach that has led to the firm’s explosive expansion over the past decade. “We have a growth strategy that’s both organic – which is hugely important to our success and the development of our people – and, additionally, we recognize that inorganic growth was going to be important,” explained Andy.

That recognition has played out over the past several years in the firm growing from one office to four in Southern California, and in its recent move into Texas. “We’d love to develop Texas further,” added Andy. “There are other geographic areas that we’re looking at, but the key is to be in great economies with access to great people.”

Helping to ease the switch in managing partners is what Matt calls one of Armanino LLP’s “superpowers” – “This type of change can be challenging and disruptive in a lot of firms, but one of the superpowers of our organization is that we embrace change,” he said. “We have to in our industry and where we’re located in Silicon Valley. Our people embrace change as a key to our uniqueness, and I think that extends to this situation – it’s big news, but people take it in stride because we are used to change.”

Part of embracing change includes being willing to move in new directions. “We recognize that change is all around us, and we must continue to change and evolve,” said Andy. “We’re looking at all kinds of exciting things – how we look at client relationships, business models we’re going to use going forward, how we use technology, how we empower our people, and a variety of other things.”

“While we’re immensely proud of our roots as an accounting firm and the work of our tax practice, for many years we’ve been committed to adding new service lines and solutions that allow us to expand our client relationships and ultimately be a key business partner to our clients as they strive to achieve their goals,” added Matt. “We’re much more than we were in the past, and we aspire to add more capabilities.”

The next MP

Matt took a rather unconventional path to the helm of a top-tier accounting. He began his career as a lawyer at a legal practice in Sacramento, Calif., and later became a litigator at a national law firm. He left that firm in the mid-1990s to join the corporate legal team at HR management software company PeopleSoft, where he eventually transitioned to a role involving the company’s acquisitions and growth strategy.

In 1999, he left PeopleSoft to join a small technology company called WhereNet, where he served as chief operating officer, with responsibility for running its services organization, marketing, field operations, and more. He helped grow it to a $50 million business that was sold to Zebra Technologies in 2007. Matt left Zebra after running its enterprise solutions business for a year.

“It was then that I got together with Andy and had some ideas on what we could build for the marketplace, and I joined Armanino in 2008 to co-lead the consulting practice and work with Andy on the growth of the firm as COO,” he said.

In the years since Matt came aboard, the firm’s consulting practice has grown from a $15 million organization to nearly $100 million today.

“It’s been a fast ride growing the organization,” Matt said. “My passion has always been to be part of a high-growth team. There’s a heck of a lot of fun that comes with being successful and part of a team that’s growing. That’s part of what makes Armanino special – having an impact, not just in terms of growth and the marketplace, but for our clients and our people.”

Having worked closely with Andy on the direction of the firm for most of a decade, Matt has no qualms about taking the helm. “There’s no trepidation – I think we’re in a very good position as a firm, with a unified partnership team and an incredible leadership team that will support me as we go through this transition,” he said. “There is a broad range of emotion, though – Andy’s a great friend and brother, and a tremendous leader of this firm. He’s going to leave a pretty impressive legacy behind him when he retires. He’ll be missed – they’re big shoes to step into, that’s for sure, but I think we’re ready for it and I think we’re going to thrive as a firm.”

Like father, like sons

Andy Armanino’s shoes are, indeed, big ones to step into. One of the most respected firm leaders in the country, he has been a member of both Accounting Today’s Managing Partner Elite and its Top 100 Most Influential People, among many other accolades from his peers across the profession. He also currently serves as vice chair of Moore Stephens North America and Moore Stephens International.

His plans for his retirement include finding other ways to have an impact.

“Initially, after I catch my breath a bit, I would like to find a way to do some good in our greater community,” he explained. “The world needs some folks to do some good, and I hope to be one of those. I enjoy teaching a lot, and I’ve done that here at the firm, so people may see me doing a little teaching.”

Noted Matt: “Andy’s very philanthropic, and he has a calling for that. We’ve been blessed to have the upbringing and opportunities that we’ve had, and all of that leads to a calling to find ways to give back that are meaningful.

Their role model in this is their father, who co-founded the firm that bears their name. “Our dad left at about a similar age, and he has not only been my mentor, but a really good example,” Andy said. “He spent most of his retirement doing good in his community and giving back. I aspire to do what he’s done.”

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