A Friend in Need – The EisnerAmper Friends of the Firm Program
June 21, 2019
In this inaugural podcast, EisnerAmper Director Nkrumah Pierre talks about an innovative program to match business and finance executives with career opportunities. He covers the origins, scope and even a real-life case study. Nkrumah concludes with how you or your firm can benefit from this unique initiative.
DP:Tell our listeners a little bit about yourself. What's your background?
NP:Well, first and foremost, thank you so much for having me. My name is Nkrumah Pierre, Director of Business Development and the head of the Friends of the Firm program. I started here about a year and a half ago. I had my own consulting firm before starting here full time.
DP: Are you a marketing guy, HR guy, sales guy? What's your wheelhouse?
NP: I'm a unique guy, so I sit in a number of different areas within the firm: HR with Friends of the Firm, Business Development as well, Marketing, and Learning and Development. So I kind of straddle multiple parts of the organization.
DP:NP:So if we're able to place CFOs and controllers—and there's no coincidence CFOs and controllers are the people who engage accounting firms—if we can place those folks, we'll forego a onetime placement for a CFO or controller, which might be anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000, and that'll be goodwill. And by making the placement, we will leverage that goodwill. If we place a CFO, we saved a company $30K to $40K. We then might have an opportunity to, if the CFO is happy and everything goes well, bid on work—whether it be tax, audit, valuations and so forth. So we said, okay, we're going to get into the business of making these placements for free, and hopefully Friends of the Firm will lead to future business.
DP:Okay, so that's the carrot for EisnerAmper that it could lead to future business. It's a win for the person looking for the placement and a win for the firm looking for staffing needs. And you mentioned it was designed for those high-level business and finance executives, the C-suiters, the controllers.
NP:Absolutely. So the focus of the program is we, in essence, place decision makers. So if you can make a decision, if you manage a budget internally at an organization, you can be part of this program. We focus specifically on CFOs and controllers because those individuals are the ones that mostly interface with accounting firms like ours. And the goal is to make it a successful placement. Keep in mind that there is no mandatory requirement and there is no fee.
DP: No fee to the person looking for the opportunity or to the firm where he or she has been placed.
NP:Great points. There is no fee for the candidate, the CFO or controller, and there's absolutely no fee to the receiving company. The price is right; everyone loves free. At the end of the day, what we found is we're banking on that goodwill in the future to hopefully get a shot at their tax, audit, valuation, or consulting services.
DP: That seems reasonable. How many people are in the program right now?
NP:Right now about 4,500 people.
DP: Excellent. And what is the scope? Is it just New Jersey? Is it the New York metropolitan area? Is it nationwide? Give us a sense of the scope of the program.
NP:The genesis of the program was here in Metro Park, New Jersey. Hayes MacArthur [EisnerAmper HR Partner] is the founder of the program, so it started here in New Jersey. Organically, it's grown from New Jersey to Philadelphia just due to proximity. And then, of course, New York. I sit in the New York office, although I'm never really there. We're a national program, so we're in Dallas; we're in San Francisco. We recently launched it in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. So it's absolutely a national program, although, I'll be honest and transparent and state that the majority of our members do reside in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.
DP: It sounds like you're in a growth mode. Now this is more than just a program that lives on a webpage, correct? I mean, I see a lot of communications, and you hold quite a few interesting, shall we call them, matchmaking events? Tell us about those.
NP:To be clear: business matchmaking events.
DP: Yes, lest anyone think otherwise.
NP:Thank you. So when it comes to the matchmaking events, what I've learned with the program, and just with respect to business development, you have to really truly build a relationship with the members. Now listen, we have 4,500 members. I'm one guy. Isabella [my FoF colleague] is one person. We do have superpowers, but it's impossible to be close with all 4,500. So what we've done is we've hosted targeted events, whether they be CFO round tables, whether they be cocktail events or breakfast events—just to understand who's in the network and to get to know the network. They say the majority of jobs that are found today in this world outside of social media are through your network. And if we can get to know our members better, they get to know us better, we can serve them better, and we can add value in a more efficient manner. So we've hosted these events which have been super successful where we bring together like-minded people, folks who are in similar situations, whether they're underemployed, unemployed, or just looking for the next opportunity. And we connect them to recruiters; we connect them to different service providers, different subject-matter experts, partners at the firm, senior managers at the firm, and other types of people. So what we've done is we've built this community, this ecosystem where the Friends of the Firm members, the candidates, have no problem reaching out to multiple people internally, which then builds stronger relationships and then opportunities.
DP:And again, no cost to attend these events?
NP:No costs. We foot the bill.
DP: Okay. Excellent. So without mentioning any names of course, but give our listeners an example of a Friends of the Firm's success story—a good example of the program in action.
NP:So the story that I love pertains to a broker-dealer, investment bank/ hedge fund in NYC. They were looking for a controller. Now one of my colleagues in the business development team was looking to do work with this organization. I'm on the tax and audit side. And he came to me and said, hey, they're looking for a controller. And it's very interesting because we had a Friend of the Firm, someone who had been in the program for about four years. He really hadn't found an opportunity through us that entire time and he was unemployed for two years, kind of down and out. He was referred to us via one of our employees—a family friend from year’s back. Our employee said, Nkrumah, can you speak with him? He's been unemployed for two years. He just needs someone to talk to. So I felt like a therapist, which is fine. First we spoke over the phone, then he came into the office and just getting to know him as a person and what happened with his former employer. He was a CFO for 10 years at a company, had a great job, made a ton of money. And the founder of that company passed away. So he lost his job and sat on the sidelines for two years. Fast forward to this opportunity that came up, which I mentioned to him. He said, absolutely. I know I was a CFO before, but I would take a controller-level job if the price is right, which it was. We sent him in for an interview and then a second round interview. He got the job and felt indebted to us as an organization. Awesome guy. Very kind, very humble and said to me, Nkrumah, listen if I could at any point in time, I want to repay the firm, I want to repay you for the fact that you took my call, you took my meeting, you listened, you follow it up, you did everything you said you were going to do when no one else would listen. And he really appreciated that. So we had a bonding moment. Obviously, he did a great job in the interview and he earned that job. And they work with another accounting firm, not us. But they gave us a shot on three different opportunities. It was a quality of earnings valuation project, a tax project and an audit project. We ended up winning the audit project for, I believe, the hedge fund that they have. Like I said, the opportunity came through one of my business development colleagues who'd been trying to win this business for a few years. And this was what gave him the edge. The fact that, yes, other accounting firms are in there, but no other accounting firm has this innovative program called Friends of the Firm where they, for free, will place CFOs and controllers. So we made a successful placement, ended up winning a piece of business, and the other two opportunities at least we got an at-bat.
DP: So it did everything in the program was intended to do.
DP: It sounds like a great program. It's innovative; it's helping people. It's altruistic, but there's some self-interest there. I mean everything that makes capitalism great. So if one of our listeners out there today is at a firm looking to fulfill a need or is looking for a career opportunity, what should they do?
NP:One, if you are a current client or a prospective client, someone who's looking to work with an accounting firm or just learn more about EisnerAmper, either are fine. If you're looking to hire a CFO or controller or even head of HR, absolutely you can reach out to me, Nkrumah Pierre. My information is on the website. We place professionals. The minimum level in annual salary is $120,000. Again, that has flexibility, but typically $120K is the floor on the annual salary. And we can help post the job description on our FoF website. We currently have about 90 or so listings on the website.
NP:Yes, that is the website. For those of you who do visit the site, there are a number of different tabs on the Friends of the Firm website; and in addition to those who are looking to hire talent, if you're a CFO who is underemployed, unemployed or just open to their next job, feel free to ping us. Again, we have a robust network, we're constantly adding to it, and we also have a number of curated events. We're happy to make internal introductions to our partners, senior managers and directors.
DP: Excellent. Well, thank you, Nkrumah, for this valuable information. Keep up the good work.
NP: Thank you, Dave. Thanks for having me, and I look forward to the next one.
DP: Thank you for listening to the “Friends of the Firm Podcast” as part of the EisnerAmper podcast series. Make sure you listen to next month’s “Friends of the Firm Podcast.” You can also visit EisnerAmper.com for more information on this and a host of other topics. And join us for our next EisnerAmper podcast when we get down to business.dammi