Blog Archive

Monday, May 15, 2017

Living Our Values: Stewardship

Los Angeles team supports AbilityFirst

The RSM Los Angeles Audit and Tax teams went head-to-head during the office’s 3rd annual AbilityFirst Eating Contest, raising more than $6,500 for AbilityFirst on Saturday, February 25. This year, the teams took on the Korean Fire Noodles challenge, and the tax team defended their title. 

This annual contest is hosted by RSM’s Abilities Employee Network Group (ENG), one of 11 ENGs that are part of the firm’s Culture, Diversity and Inclusion efforts. Each ENG provides RSM employees with professional and leadership development opportunities, and promotes our diverse professionals in serving our clients with expertise and thought leadership.

The LA Audit and Tax teams had the opportunity to buy “sabotages” for the opposing team (hot Cheetos, chili peppers, King Taco red sauce, Sriracha) or “aids” for their own team (milk, water, soda, refusal of sabotages). Through the war of buying and negating the sabotages, the Korean Fire Noodles challenge raised just over $6,500 for AbilityFirst!

The Abilities ENG is continuing to live RSM’s value of stewardship and raise money for AbilityFirst, with the LA office participating in the 2017 AbilityFirst Stroll & Roll on April 2.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Busy Season Spin Class


Here is a picture of  some of the employees
 that participated in the February Swerve Class!

Especially during busy season for accountants, work can be demanding and work-life balance can be challenging.  At RSM’s New York office, leaders  created “Busy Season Perks and Activities,” including Bagel Mondays, massage chairs and free spin classes, to help employee find more balance during busy season. 

Exercise has proven to be one of the top stress relievers.  RSM partnered with Swerve, an up-and-coming boutique spin studio in New York City, allowing employees to partake in a free spin class.  The studio, located less than a block away from the office, made it easy for more than 30 employees to attend the class during lunch.  The participants ranged from interns to managers and across all lines of business. Some employees even came with their engagement teams! The motivating music, dimmed lighting and inspiring instructors persuaded many employees to buy a package of classes. It was so successful, there is another RSM free class planned for late March. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Q & A with a RAS Associate: Meet Tim Nadler

Tim Nadler
Consulting Associate
Baltimore, MD

In this Q&A with risk advisory associate, Tim Nadler, he shares a bit about himself and how RSM encourages him to be his genuine self at work (and how he’s helping others do the same). 

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I love to travel!  I have been to all eastern seaboard states, Texas, Nevada, California, Denver, Ohio, Jamaica, the Grand Cayman, Dominican Republic, Mexico (4x) and Costa Rica (3x). The Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains, Niagara Falls and Costa Rica have been my favorite if I can have 4 favorites. I have a pet pig. He is a five-year-old Potbelly named Hamilton. His favorite things to do are eat, sleep and cuddle. He is an escape artist and loves carrots. I’ve never done karaoke, but I do sing in the shower.

You started as a tax intern, now you are in consulting for risk advisory (RAS) practice. How did you make that change, and why?
RSM really gave me the foundation to explore career paths during my two internships here in Baltimore; first in Tax, then in Consulting. I was able to see the difference between the two, and I really enjoyed the client interaction that I saw while interning in the RAS practice. Now as a full time associate, I am rarely even in the Baltimore office, which I actually love. Most of my time is spent on site at the client with the team. After my internships, RSM was gracious enough to give me the opportunity to decide how I wanted to start my career here at RSM. It meant a lot to me that the firm was supportive of my exploration of the different lines of business within RSM.

Any memorable client engagements?
We have a long standing engagement with a local government contractor that we have developed a relationship with beyond our day to day consulting work. As a mid-day break, we go on power walks with key management (on days above 30 degrees and below 85 degrees!) for a little over a mile. We talk about everything besides work – client’s kids in college, vacations, etc. We get some mid-day energy going, and we get some cardio in too! We even keep our tennis shoes in the car so that we don’t get blisters in our work shoes. Overall it develops our connection on an individual level, so when it comes to client work we really are creating closer working relationship and building trust within the client.

Why do you like RSM, what is your favorite part of the firm?
I really feel that the firm understands their employees, giving them the opportunity to grow into what each individual wants out of their own career, while working on firm goals. While in the Baltimore office or at national conferences, the make-up of our colleagues is truly inspiring. We really have some top-notch talent within our firm and it’s great that RSM encourages each one of us to be our best.

You are active in RSM’s employee network groups (ENGs). Can you tell us why you chose to get involved and what you hope to achieve through the group?
I have recently taken over the Pride ENG Baltimore leadership position. The reason that I have decided to be active in this cause is pretty simple to me; people should be able to be their genuine self at work. I wanted to promote the opportunity and environment for individuals to be open, feel safe and be supported for being LGBT within the workplace here at RSM. RSM, as a firm, does a great job at promoting a safe work environment for the LGBT community and I thought I could make an impact by encouraging LGBT allies within my local office as well. So far, Baltimore has been nothing but supportive of the efforts we are making. Way to go Baltimore!

Any advice to an incoming Associate?
Be prepared to LEARN A LOT! Ask questions, be curious, and be yourself!



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How to make the most of busy season

Zahra Lalani
Consulting Senior Associate
Chicago, IL

Tell me a bit about your background with RSM.
My career with RSM began while I was in college when I interned with the financial services audit team during my junior year of college. After graduation, I started working with the audit team full time as an associate. This summer, after 3 years with the audit team, I transitioned to RSM’s consulting practice in M&A transaction advisory. Although I’ve technically moved to a consulting role, I continue to help out the audit team this busy season.

What do you think makes an auditor most successful during busy season?

There are quite a few habits and qualities that contribute to being successful on individual engagements and the overall busy season. While it’s true that a great amount of learning and work is condensed in a short, four month period, the skills to success (and mindset to succeed) is an ongoing process throughout the year.

As a new associate, it can be overwhelming to decipher what it is that you are actually responsible for doing. You’re just figuring your way out, learning what different acronyms stand for and mentally cataloging the specific terminology used in your industry. It’s almost like learning a whole new language, and on top of that you also need to produce quality work product!


This can leave you stressed out, not knowing where to begin.

There were several times during my first year where I felt the same way. Looking back through my four busy seasons, I’ve identified five actionable focus-areas for incoming associates to utilize as we begin this busy season:

1. Ask questions
Everyone says this, right? RSM’s culture focuses on personal growth and development as much as it prioritizes quality client service. This meant that I was able to ask anyone above me a question, knowing they would take out time to answer it or point me in the right direction if they couldn’t.

Let’s take this one step further: Once you’ve been given instructions, evaluate which parts you do understand and which parts you don’t. For the parts that are unclear, do some research, dig around on the intranet and read through the relevant documentation. Then approach your in-charge or manager with your question indicating what you’ve considered through your own research. You could be totally off base with the solution you come up with, but developing the “evaluate-research-ask” habit really helped me process new information and absorb new concepts quickly. Pro-tip: Keep a Q&A document on your desktop so you can reference this in the future, so you won’t have to ask again!

2. Understand expectations
At the beginning of an engagement, write down what you want to have learned by the time the engagement is over. If you haven’t worked on any engagements yet, it is reasonable for you to ask your in-charge what their expectations are of you. (E.g. How long should assigned tasks take? What would doing a good job on this project look like?) Write this down! Doing this will allow you to see exactly what you need to work on; it’s much easier for you to self-evaluate your progress when you have clear expectations. Every so often during my first busy season, my peers and I would discuss the types of tasks we’ve completed (read: “Am I being given the same or similar responsibilities as those around me?”); doing this helped me identify if I was on track towards becoming an efficient in-charge. Writing down what you already know how to do will help you identify new areas to focus on in your next engagement.

3. Understand “why?”
Your in-charge asked you to pick a sample five revenue items for testing. Do you know why? Is it because this is standard firm practice? Perhaps this type of selection is only applicable for this particular client? Well, a good way to build your knowledge base is to understand what you’re doing and how it applies to the overall audit objectives. As an associate you’ll most likely be responsible for carrying out detailed testing that was already designed by your in-charge. A great way to demonstrate enthusiasm is to figure out the purpose behind the tasks you’re assigned. Once you understand why you’re doing the testing you’ve been assigned, you’ll be able to add value to your engagement. You’ll also be able to add appropriate conclusions to your workpapers.

4. Focus by listening

The beauty of working at RSM is that you’re exposed to every part of an audit engagement from the very beginning of your career. This means being looped in on emails to clients as well as being present during walkthroughs, conference calls and face-to-face meetings with top level officers. While you may not be asked to lead meetings, you can still actively participate by listening to what’s being said and taking notes on anything you don’t understand. The content of these meetings usually provide a good context for how the company has performed in the past year, the major operations or revenue streams of their business, and any changes that may have occurred. For example, once I understood how a broker-dealer was recognizing revenue, I was better able to complete the revenue testing assigned to me. Observing these interactions as an associate prepared me to be an efficient and effective in-charge when I was responsible for leading meetings and walkthroughs.


5. Get involved
RSM invests in the communities in which its people work and live. This means there are plenty of service opportunities (i.e. walks, runs, industry outreach). Participate, raise your hand, and say “yes” to internal networking opportunities. Informal social settings often lead to the most interesting conversations. The more people that know you, the more likely new opportunities are to come your way.

How did you find time to recharge? What are some of your best practices to recharge during busy season?
Balance is key. We’re not machines, and even if we were – we’d eventually need a reboot. For me balance, meant engaging the parts of myself that were disengaged during the week.


Here are some things I did during busy season to recharge:

Physical activity
I played volleyball on the weekends to counter the hours of sitting and I spent at least one hour every day at the gym running, even if it was only at 4.5 mph; some days were better than other days. If I had been working at my desk for 3 or 4 hours without moving, I would get up. 

Finish easy tasks before the weekend
It’s hard to enjoy time off when you have lingering tasks, for example signing off without coding your time. I used Saturday mornings to wrap up lingering administrative tasks, so that I could enjoy Sunday with my family without the worry of missing a deadline.

Disconnect to reconnect
I planned dinner with friends for Saturday night and/or brunch with other friends on Sunday mornings. This meant I would be away from my computer, active and maintaining my relationships outside of work.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Living our values: Respect

Joseph Mazza
Office Managing Partner
Los Angeles, CA

One of RSM’s values is respect, which is defined as; a feeling of deep admiration for someone or  something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. Respect is a way of treating or thinking about something or someone. We show our respect for our fellow RSM colleagues in many ways, by thinking before we act, by being polite or timely and by listening to others as much as we talk or just saying “Good morning” or “Hello” when we see people. Respect is also displayed by offering others coaching and feedback.

Over the years, I have participated in many employee career coaching conversations, focus groups and exit interviews. One of the things that has always stood out to me in these sessions is that our people usually want and need more feedback. They like to be coached. This is something I have observed of people at all levels and why RSM has made investments in our feedback tools in the last year. But I have often thought to myself, “If everyone wants more feedback and coaching, then why aren’t people giving more feedback and coaching?”

Which brings me to my interpretation of respect; treat others the way you would like to be treated. If you feel you would like more feedback and coaching, then give more feedback and coaching to others. It is kind of a pay it forward, or good karma concept. If we all give more of it, we will all receive more of it. Additionally, coaching and feedback is a way of showing people we care, and has been proven to reduce employee turnover.

 So, as we start this new year, I’m asking my team to  show how much we care about our colleagues across RSM by providing more timely feedback and coaching. It demonstrates our respect for each other; our people will feel good; and we will have happy colleagues.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Why I love RSM

Maddy Kranz
RSM Campus Ambassador and Consulting Intern
Minneapolis, MN
RSM prides itself on its values of respect, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and stewardship; and RSM employees experience these principles directly from colleagues, as well as within the RSM culture on a daily basis. As a part-time employee and full-time student with a double-major in Management Information Systems and Accounting, flexibility and understanding are vital to my academic and professional success. Working at RSM this fall on a part-time basis, I have been able to alter my workload in order to cater to my situation. Achievement is important to me, where I aim to perform at maximum capacity in all facets of my life. RSM’s flexibility with my situation has allowed me to leverage my capabilities in order to elicit a maximum return in my school work and professional experience. With  this level of flexibility and control over my work, comes a large amount of responsibility, which I must manage efficiently as well.

One aspect of working at RSM that I enjoy is how they value women in the workplace. It is hard to come across a business that truly practices what it preaches in regard to gender equality in the organic interactions and indirect regard for women operating in the business world. I think that there is a strong presence of “girl power” in the RSM culture, and I have experienced this firsthand. I really look up to the women around me and find myself reaching to be more like them every day. In addition to providing strong influences in my career path, working at RSM has also allowed me to foster relationships with colleagues who are genuine, trusting, and caring. The people I have worked with throughout my experience are more than just co-workers. It is evident that the individuals I work with have a genuine concern for the well-being of others and seek to foster lasting relationships beyond work.

RSM’s culture clearly plays a critical role in the success of its employees. The environment in which you work can greatly affect your performance in both a negative or positive way. I think that the general culture of RSM, and the atmosphere of the Minneapolis office specifically have wildly influenced my experience and work in positive way, and have allowed me to be the best version of myself possible in a professional and personal manner. Without a solid foundation of culture, business performance can truly crumble. Where consultative work is primarily team-based, relationship management is a key success factor when it comes to colleagues as well as clients. It is important for individuals to be able to maximize their capabilities in the work they perform, and I believe RSM has mastered the framework for an exceptional culture in the workplace.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How is RSM different than the other firms?

Bahana Ashraf
Talent Acquisition Sourcing Specialist
Irvine, CA
As a Recruiter, I think the one question we are asked the most is: What makes RSM different than all of the other firms out there? And let's face it - there is a lot of competition that for the most part do the exact same thing we do.

So I decided to do a little research and asked our current employees and the candidates that are applying, why they were interested in coming to our firm, and this is what I heard almost every time-

1. Culture Fit
2. Work/Life Balance

Almost every single time, I heard the exact same answers. So you may be thinking - what is so great about the culture fit, and what is your definition of work/life balance? Well, here it is -

The Culture Fit - Although I cannot speak for every single office - for the most part the culture fit at RSM is one that is very down to earth, where everyone seems to really be friends at work, but even outside of work. Partners plan camping trips with their families, and invite the office and their families to attend. The tax staff eat lunch together - EVERY SINGLE DAY, and the others plan trips to Vegas, or weekend getaways all the time. There is probably happy hours going on every week, and almost always a reason to get together. With RSM you have the opportunity to work directly with the Partners, and yes just walk into their office if you have a question - regardless of your level. RSM is a large, internationally recognized firm that has a lot of resources, but when you walk in, you won’t just feel like a number. RSM acts more like a “mom and pop business” - where everyone really knows everyone, and great friendships are made.

The Work/Life Balance - When you’re starting your career in public accounting, you should know what you’re getting yourself into. Yes, you will go through busy season and regardless of which firm you go to, you will work a lot of hours. However I can tell you this, it is typically A LOT LESS than you would if you worked at a larger firm. That is why we are recognized for the “Best Places to Work for New Dads”, “Mother’s Best Companies List” etc.

So here is my advice to you whether you’re a Partner, or even a recent college grad looking to get your foot in the door - take some time to do your research. If all CPA firms do the same thing, understand what their differences are, and make that the reason to start your career with that firm.