Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read July 2021 — CliftonLarsonAllen LLP is a professional services network and the eighth-largest accountancy firm in the United States. Managing Partner Kevin Leder spoke with Invest: about the firm’s growth in the past year and dealing with succession planning. “Because we really know our clients, we are able to listen to them and advise them based on their circumstances,” Leder said.
What were some ways in which the firm continued to grow in the past year?
In Raleigh in particular, we were able to grow at almost a 10% rate in 2020. There was certainly uncertainty in March and April but we tried to stay connected as much as we could as an office. We also wanted to remain connected with our clients, realizing they were feeling the uncertainty just as much as we were, if not more. We helped them through the PPP considerations and the CARES Act and helped them navigate the relief available to them. Many of the tax, accounting and audit requirements our clients had did not go away and so we were less impacted than many businesses. Much of the consulting work we do did quiet down a little, however.
What advice would you give on succession planning?
Our goal is to be the premier resource for businesses and their owners so we help them on a personal level but also in planning for the future. Some of that involves succession and that is our sweet spot. We’ve seen some transactions over the past 24 months and I expect that to continue. In some cases, our clients are receiving unsolicited offers because there are companies out there that are looking for opportunities. Because we really know our clients, we are able to listen to them and advise them based on their circumstances.
What long-term changes are you noticing from the pandemic?
Demand has increased exponentially for tech-related consultancy and we have clients that have been victims of various cyberattacks. Pretty much all companies are vulnerable and that will continue to be a hot topic as we go ahead.
Office space is another changing concept. Many companies like us put lease and office expansions on hold and now we’re thinking differently about how we can work. We’re still able to stay connected, but I see our team working remotely more than before the pandemic. One of the great things about our business is that we can be flexible. From an audit standpoint, we used to spend most of our time at client offices performing audits. Even pre-COVID, we were shifting away from that and toward remote audits. We have now found clients do not need or want us in their office the entire time taking up space, which allows us to be more creative in how we execute our work.
Have you seen any impact on human capital?
At CLA, we create opportunities for our people. Each individual in our office is working on a unique career path, and we recognize that everyone’s path looks different. We’ve been fortunate in that our turnover is significantly below the average levels seen in our profession. For the last two years, we’ve focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. We have ambassadors that are part of our firmwide council, and we developed an office plan for 2021. We set goals for everything from recruiting to community impact. We have some incredible educational institutions that we’ve been able to recruit from. One of our focuses now is to create partnerships with the HBCUs.
What are some of the key strengths of the Triangle market?
There are so many new companies arriving in the market and bringing new jobs, which makes me excited to be here. I relocated to Raleigh from Charlotte about five years ago, and even at that point I knew Raleigh would be growing. Now it is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, which equates to many business opportunities. It allows us access to great candidates and allows us to provide quality services for our clients. We are in a great position to continue to grow. The biggest challenge we face is our brand awareness. We are still relatively new to the market although we are seeing more calls coming in from relationships we’ve made. One challenge is that we are not as well-known as the Big Four firms, but I also see that as a tremendous opportunity for growth.
What is your outlook for the remainder of 2021?
As we entered the year, I was a little nervous, but the way the first five months have unfolded creates great optimism. I feel that we are poised to carry that momentum forward into the second half of 2021, and into 2022. We are a very industry-driven firm and we continue to expand the number of industries we are focusing on in Raleigh. In the Triangle, technology and life sciences present big opportunities and there continues to be a significant inflow of private equity into the region. We also want to continue to grow our existing industries, such as healthcare, nonprofit and real estate and professional services. These are all poised to do well with the increase in demand in the housing market. We are involved in several community initiatives and we have our own CLA Foundation, which has given just over $7 million in grants to local organizations in the few years it has been running.
For more information, visit: https://www.claconnect.com/