As a result of Schneider Down’s growing size and presence in the accounting industry, our firm was first invited to attend the AICPA’s Major Firms Group (MFG) meeting in the late 1990s. Since then, I have proudly represented the firm at two AICPA MFG meetings each year. These meetings are attended by the largest 60 accounting firms in the U.S. (exclusive of the Big Four). Through my participation in the MFG, I have developed a network of personal relationships with the leaders of virtually all of the largest 60 firms in the U.S. Last week I attended the latest meeting, accompanied by another Schneider Downs shareholder, Tim Hammer. As always, one of the highlights of the week was networking with industry leaders and learning from our peer network.
This meeting is important for Schneider Downs, because it provides a forum for our firm to meet with other peer firms our size – and larger – to share practice management techniques. The MFG gives Schneider Downs insight on how other firms operate; our firm then can evaluate peer firm’s models, and implement the peer network’s best practices into our firm’s operations. As Schneider Downs continues to grow and expand its services, the network and practice development insight gained through the conference enables us to better serve our clients.
The meetings also give Schneider Downs unique access to new products or services that are utilized by our peer firms. We then have the opportunity to analyze those products and services, and evaluate whether they are appropriate for our own business model. For example, Schneider Down’s staffing business, Creative Financial Staffing (CFS), was introduced as a component of our firm’s practice many years ago due to a relationship built through the MFG. Without the MFG, Schneider Downs might not be in the staffing business; however, today CFS is a very successful component of our firm. The MFG meetings provided us with the opportunity to speak with other firms offering staffing services, which helped our firm form our own decision to implement the service.
Last summer I was given the opportunity to chair the MFG Meeting. As chair, I was in charge of the meeting’s content, but more importantly, I developed a relationship with a leader of the accounting industry: Barry Melancon, the President and CEO of the AICPA. In addition, the MFG has also introduced me to the leadership of the Big Four, representatives from the SEC, the leadership of the PCAOB, and other various industry leaders from the AICPA. Such networking is invaluable to Schneider Downs, and better enables our firm to meet the evolving needs of our clients.
I’m already looking forward to our next meeting in six months.
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