Elliott Davis marks 100th anniversary

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Elliott Davis, a Top 40 Firm based in Greenville, South Carolina, is celebrating its centennial this year as it expands its advisory services to meet the challenges of its next 100 years.

The firm started in Boston and originally focused on the textile industry, according to the Greenville Journal. It relocated to South Carolina as the textile industry grew down there and has since expanded into serving a wide variety of industries, including construction, dentistry, physician practices, financial services, real estate, entertainment and sports.

“We are celebrating our 100th year, and we are certainly excited to have that history,” CEO Rick Davis told Accounting Today. “We believe that to have made it to 100 years is a wonderful milestone. We’re trying to draw upon what we've learned, particularly over the last decade as we look toward the future, realizing that we’re in a sea of change and a lot of things are happening. Disruption is an everyday word. But we believe firms today have to be future focused, trying to draw upon the knowledge that we can gain from other firms and also from other industries as we look to provide exceptional customer service and experience for everyone.”

The firm aims to expand into new areas in the years ahead. “We know that we can't do what we did for the last decade and certainly not for the last 100 years,” said Davis (pictured). “We’ve got to be looking to do things differently, so we’ve pulled together a game plan with a committed team for innovation. We have a chief innovation officer. We have industry and practice line leaders within innovation that are committed to understanding what our customers need, what’s going on in the marketplace, so we can better serve them and so that we can better provide our people with the opportunities to go about what they do day in and day out at the highest possible level.”

Cybersecurity is a promising area where the firm is expanding. “We’re definitely focused on more advisory type services that will help provide solutions to our customers,” said Davis. “We’re looking at areas like cyber as a really good example of what we could be doing in the cyber space to look at risk advisory type services, to be more consultative across the board.”

The firm is also helping clients with their accounting software and providing them with accounting services. “We have a team that is focused on accounting software, outsourced and insourced accounting services, moving toward having the ability to do some outsourced technology leadership, helping them to understand systems and overall implementation opportunities for how to bring technology in and maximize its value for their organizations,” said Davis.

Tax is also an expanding area, particularly in response to the 2017 tax overhaul. “Certainly, we're still looking at tax reform, and the opportunities that are available through understanding tax reform and how we can best help our customers understand what those are,” said Davis. “We’re continuing to look for ways to help them navigate through the complex world when it comes to so many different areas. When it comes to state and local, it’s a very complex area. Of course, the R&D area continues to provide lots of opportunity for us as well. Just anything that’s outside the routine, we try to have individuals well prepared to understand how to ask questions about where they can find value for customers in the tax area.”

The audit and assurance area also holds promise in the years ahead. “In assurance, of course you’ve got the core, the base, that remains mostly the same,” said Davis. “In that regard we‘re looking for how we can bring any new pronouncements, any new areas of required disclosure, so that we can help customers and clients best understand how to best implement any of those so that they can properly report and be in compliance with any of the issues that go along with those.”

Management consulting is also a growing demand for Elliott Davis clients. “In the overall management consulting area, depending on the industry, we’re looking to be able to utilize our anticipatory type skills, to help people understand trends so that they can be better prepared for the future,” said Davis. “We really look at that as a component of helping our people be prepared. That’s one of the newer skills that we’re working toward. From an advisory standpoint, our team members can go out and consult with industry leaders, and bring data and information back to the C-suite leaders of our customers, so that they can bring them value and help them to understand which questions they need to be asking so that they can chart a path for success for their companies.”

The firm has 82 shareholders and approximately 750 employees across eight markets in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and the Cayman Islands, while generating approximately $140 million in annual revenue. To celebrate its 100th year, Elliott Davis will be doing various events throughout 2020. “Our big celebration will come in the fall where we’ll bring all of our employees from across all of our firms to gather and have a 100-year celebration in October, to help everyone be focused on the past and understand what our future holds and how we can take full advantage of that,” said Davis.

For the future, the firm is checking with its clients to determine their needs. “We just continue to look for ways to add value, so we’re really spending time with our customers and understanding what their needs are,” said Davis. “We feel like we’ve got a core team across all practice areas that can provide collaborative outcomes for our existing customers and what we hear that they’re looking for. From a growth standpoint, we really believe that we’re in a great market that provides lots of opportunity for growth for where we are and what we do, and also great opportunities to attract talent, which of course is the key to being able to provide exceptional customer service.”

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