Jun 30, 2018
Accounting, tax and audit, investment banking services
Seattle (offices in 32 locations, including Denver)
Employees: about 3,000 (150 in Denver)
Products: Accounting and professional services
After ascertaining the two firms were a compatible cultural and business fit, Moss Adams and Hein & Associates announced in November 2017 that they were combining their respective accounting, consulting, and wealth management operations. Hein's Denver and Houston offices added two new cities to Moss Adams, expanding its presence across the Western United States. Meanwhile, the Dallas office nearly doubled the firm's presence in that city.
"Hein was approached pretty much every year I was with the firm," Mueldener says. "We sat down with Moss Adams, and we immediately noticed it was different because our cultures aligned." Some of those key commonalities were an emphasis on employee development and "a more interchangeable work-life balance."
That all-important cultural fit is matched by the business fit, in particular the added diversification. Hein's practice focused on oil and gas with energy clients representing around half of the firm's billing. "Anytime you have a concentration like that, it presents risk," Pfahl says.
Moss Adams, meanwhile, didn't have a large oil and gas presence, but does have a significant Manufacturing & Consumer Products Practice. "All of a sudden, that's a major practice area in our geographical locations" when you consider a combination, Pfahl says.
In addition to the manufacturing focus, Moss Adams has a substantial Technology Practice that could immediately plug into the Denver marketplace as well as a very active Private Equity Practice with "direct knowledge of many of the venture-capital and private-equity firms" on the West Coast, Pfahl says.
The added resources are a boon across multiple disciplines for the Denver office. "We have national practice leaders in every one of these practices -- and that's all they do," Pfahl explains. "I can be on the phone with the right person within an afternoon, which is a great, seamless benefit for our clients to have a customized bundle of services and industry expertise under one roof."
With the new Denver location being a draw for staff, sometimes it isn't even necessary to jump on the phone. Pfahl anticipates that Denver itself will be a draw that increases staff numbers. "I think we'll have some folks who'll want to transfer here," he says. "Everybody wants to live in Denver."
The combination already lured a Moss Adams Transactions Services partner, David Terry, who relocated from Minnesota. "Having him here is just critical," Pfahl says. "I love having him sit in the Denver office with his particular expertise always on hand."
The combination also brought Brian Short, a R&D tax credit specialist, to the Denver office to focus on manufacturing and technology. "He was previously working remotely out of Colorado," Pfahl says, adding that "it's worked out perfectly."
"Many of our clients aren't locked within Colorado's borders," Mueldener says. "Having the additional depth of resources has been very complementary for them."
Challenges: The integration of processes and IT infrastructure is practical but key when two firms combine. "We're being extremely careful to make sure that, from a client's perspective, there's no disruption," Pfahl says, adding that on the IT front, that integration has been very smooth. "In fact, all of the IT functions at our new locations have successfully been switched over, an effort that was meticulously orchestrated. Even if our firms' cultures prove a natural fit, we knew this could be a tricky and common pain point. It's impressive how it's been managed."
Opportunities: Pfahl sees opportunities to grow in food and beverage, outdoor industry, and aerospace and defense in Colorado.
"The Technology Practice is going to be incredibly important and beneficial for clients," Pfahl says. "Think about the crossover between technology and manufacturing, especially in Colorado. Most of what we're manufacturing in Colorado has some technological component to it."
Implementing cutting-edge technology at the firm, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), is another opportunity. Adoption of AI "is going to be a transformational event for the accounting profession," Mueldener says, citing potential to more efficiently conduct audits.
"Being part of a larger firm has allowed us to invest and provide more benchmarking," he adds. Pooling data with clients' consent "is something our manufacturing clients have really appreciated. They've asked a lot of questions about this approach."
Needs: Talent. "With public accounting, that's always a challenge," Pfahl says. "The draw with Moss Adams lies in its culture of being mindful when it comes to a work-life balance, its commitment to attracting and retaining women professionals through its Forum W initiative, and opportunities to build your skills and explore your career in a supportive environment. There's so much more to it, but the bottom line is that it's a great firm -- and that energy is reflected in our client relationships."
This profile is a paid advertorial sponsored by Moss Adams.