A selection of the best

In our fourth collection of the Managing Partner Elite, we've brought together a selection of the country's best firm leaders, from firms of all sizes, to highlight the skills and strategies it takes to lead an organization to success in the 21st century.

(Want to see last year’s class of the MP Elite?)


Jason Blumer / Blumer & Associates

Blumer succeeds on his own terms. That means he works virtually — anytime, anywhere. That means he picks and chooses which clients he’s willing to work with, and then offers them services they’d never expect from an accounting firm, like a strategic university and coaching. That means a Web site that would terrify most firm leaders, but is perfectly geared to the kinds of clients he wants. That means living up to his self-granted title of chief innovation officer every day.

Gregory Burbach / Honkamp Krueger & Co. PC

A focus on teamwork is clearly a part of Burbach’s style; Honkamp Krueger’s strategic plan, for instance, was a team effort that involved input from all of its employees and managers, with responsibility for its implementation and success spread widely. Besides the teams he’s added for almost a dozen new practice areas in the past five years, Burbach has also gone outside the firm to create a much larger team — the HK Alliance of 25 CPA and business consulting firms that share best practices and resources.

Michael Gillis / DMJ & Co. PLLC

Growth through a strategic plan? Check: In fact, DMJ keeps exceeding its goals, so they’ve started working on refreshing the original plan. Succession plan? Check: Not only is the firm identifying and grooming young emerging professionals, but it has established well-defined plans for each department, and set partner goals and expectations. Caring about staff? Definitely, with stunningly low turnover in the past five years. Focus on organic growth? Check: New services, niches and strategic partnerships. Interest in technology? Check: The firm is an early adopter in a number of areas. Elite managing partner? Check.

Cathy Iconis / Iconis Group

Iconis built her own firm in her own way, unconstrained by traditional expectations or outmoded models – and that resulted in an entirely virtual firm that charges clients a flat fee for its outsourced accounting and chief financial officer services and requires them to use QuickBooks Online, but then rewards them with a collaborative approach that helps both her and them grow. All in all, it’s a new model -- and if you won’t take our word for it, take software giant Intuit’s: They just named Iconis Group one of their 20 “Firms of the Future” for 2015.

Brian Mandell-Rice / Hein & Associates LLP

To his role, Mandell-Rice brought a vision that he incorporated into the strategic plan Hein rolled out in 2012, and has followed to great success with a large number of new services and offerings in new markets. And he has also made a priority of ensuring the firm’s future with a leadership development program that trains, educates and transitions high performers into leadership roles. He plans to step down at the end of the year, but he can rest assured that his legacy of a strong firm with a strong culture will be safe in the hands of the many leaders he has nurtured.

Steven Marcus / Gettry Marcus CPA PC

Over the next several years you’re likely to see more firms looking like Gettry Marcus and more MPs acting like Steven Marcus. That’s because Marcus made the conscious decision to move from trying to juggle being an active working partner and managing the firm, to being a full-time chief executive so that he could focus on growing the firm strategically. That new focus has paid off in a number of ways, including giving the firm a literal new look, in the form of a new office that is cutting edge in design and is already serving as a model for other firms.

Jody Padar / New Vision CPA Group

Padar has codified the secrets of her firm’s success in a book, The Radical CPA, which lays out the tenets of what she calls “the New Firm” — one based on using the cloud and social media to create deeper relationships with clients and offer them much more comprehensive, collaborative, value-added services, and that embraces value pricing and a dedication to better processes and client experiences.

Harvey Wallace / Brown Smith Wallace LLC

Cast your mind back to 2009: As one of only two years in the past 20 when average accounting firm revenue across the country declined, it was not a happy year for the profession. And yet Brown Smith Wallace was busy recording its second-best year in revenue. It’s no coincidence that that was the year Harvey Wallace took the helm and, in the midst of a deep recession, laid the foundation for a strong future with a series of far-sighted strategic moves that helped creaete a firm that is stronger than ever, and ready to join the ranks of the largest in the nation.
This article originally appeared in Accounting Today.