Art of Accounting: Withum SOTF 2020

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Withum’s annual State of the Firm (SOTF) event, attended by over 1,000 Withum team members, was held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center last Monday. Every office was well represented, including our brand new Irvine, California office, and I was able to meet a bunch of my new colleagues.

I found the program very exciting and want to share some information about it. For starters this continued a tradition that began in 2008 when we were headed by Ivan Brown. Bill Hagaman continued the events and in 2011 he added a SOTF video. That first one can be viewed on YouTube here. (You can even see me at 3:06 into the video; I’m the guy in the white T-shirt dancing on the desk.) This year’s theme was "CREATE," and the marketing team provided a montage of clips from past videos, accompanied by an opening psychedelic dance performance on the stage of the massive NJPAC. A link to that video is available here.

The program was well orchestrated with announcements of our Strength Awards interspersed throughout the program. The Strength Awards were presented for Innovation, Emerging Leaders I and II, Community Service, Client Service, Administrative and Marketing Strength, and Outstanding Achievement. While the Strength awards were presented to eight people or teams, 87 exceptional people at Withum were nominated. If you have worked with them, you know they are all winners. Congrats to all of them! A special noncompetitive award was also presented by Ivan Brown to Doris Martinez for exceptional service to our clients, staff and firm over her long career at Withum. A full list of the winners is available at Withum's site here.

We are a large firm that is growing in an accelerated but controlled manner, and maintaining the culture that got us here is necessary. Meetings such as this where our managing partner reports to the firm on our growth provide important metrics. Strategic planning initiatives and our culture-strengthening activities, combined with great networking after the formal program, keep us aware of the one firm (with 13 offices) that we are. Bill was quite open with sharing financial information and giving us an inside look at how an accounting firm operates. We were also introduced via video to the 30 people who will be part of our new office in Bengaluru, India.

Bill expressed his thoughts on the expanding role of consulting and advisory services at Withum. It is being supported by some very impressive people with world-class cybersecurity experience. He also stressed the importance of industry expertise so we could better serve our clients with added value.

After the formal part of the program, Carey Lohrenz, the U.S. Navy’s first female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot, gave a riveting presentation based on her book, "Fearless Leadership." Her program was excellent. I believe it elevated the plane of our thinking and will contribute to expanding our horizons. Everyone also received a copy of the book.

Healthy people are happy people, and Withum has many initiatives that encourage healthy activities, one of which is the Withum 300. Everyone who runs or walks 300 miles in a year will qualify for our firm’s contribution of 50 cents a mile to our Employee Hardship Relief Fund. This year 92 team members covered more than 60,000 miles and over $30,000 was contributed.

The meeting ended with Bill announcing the six senior managers who are being promoted to partners. In all, the SOTF event was a great way to meet and greet colleagues from our dozen-plus offices, get motivated and learn how well we are doing. It had us excited about what is to come. I recommend such a meeting for all firms, regardless of size.

Do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com with your practice management questions.

Photo caption: Withum managing partner and CEO Bill Hagaman taking a shot of the audience.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. Ed is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice mana

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