Blog Archive

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Kick starting your career in International Tax

At RSM, tax is one of our three main services. What many people might not realize is that there are many smaller specialty groups within the larger tax practice. RSM’s international tax group offers local knowledge and global perspective to help clients with a broad range of issues. To get a better understanding of what it is like to start a career in international tax, we caught up with Victoria R., an international tax associate, who shared her insight.

What was your biggest challenge transitioning from college to working as an associate?

Waking up early (joking!). Probably the hardest part was the shock of how little I actually knew. I, like many people I know, went to school for accounting and sat through hours upon hours of classes. After graduation, I thought ‘okay, I know everything there is to know’, but boy was I wrong. While all those hours of classes certainly gave me the basics and were invaluable, there is a large difference between knowing something in theory and knowing something in practice. While it was a bit overwhelming at first, my colleagues and managers always took the time to teach me and help me grow. And I am still growing and learning two years later.

How did you know you wanted to work in tax?

I chose tax because I like to solve problems. Obviously our clients come to us not only to do their tax returns, but also to advise them on taking advantage of available credits and incentives as well as help plan their operations in a tax efficient manner. This is where my enjoyment of tax lies, within the consulting. A client may need to repatriate foreign earnings or open a manufacturing plant in Germany or wants to know if there are any incentives for exporting their goods. There are many possible answers to endless situations, and I enjoy helping clients figure out which answer is the right one for them.

Did you know what international tax was prior to starting at RSM?

Not exactly. I thought International Tax (ITax) would include more international travel, but mostly we work with US clients who do work abroad (exports, foreign subsidiaries, etc.), or foreign persons who do work in the US. We see how their activities will affect their US tax. We also work with other RSM International offices in order to provide our clients with a worldwide picture of how a certain transaction will be taxed.

What would you say is the difference between the work you do and the work that people in other tax groups at RSM do?

ITax is largely a consulting group, with a large majority of the group being lawyers, not accountants. Not many other tax groups do as much consulting as we do. But, as I mentioned before, this is one of the reasons I enjoy my work so much.

How often do you have contact with partners and upper level management in the group?

Every hour or so. As we aren’t a large group, there are several projects on which I work directly with partners and senior managers. We are also a very friendly group, so there are several times people will stop by just say hi to each other.

What do you think you have learned the most in your time in the international tax group?

I could fill a long novel with what I have learned knowledge-wise in my time with the group. As far as skills I have learned, I would say self-review and being okay with the fact that I don’t have to know it all. Self-review has helped me make sure I am happy with my work product and don’t produce a balance sheet that didn’t balance. And as I mentioned before, there is a large learning curve when you start working, but the curve never truly goes away. There are always questions you will be asked that you don’t know the answer to, and it is okay for you to say that you don’t know.

To learn more about international tax at RSM click here!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

RSM Women in Business: from Intern to Manager to Mom

Tell us about yourself and your role at RSM?

My name is Neely Rose and I am an audit manager in RSM’s Charlotte, NC office. While my work focuses primarily on consumer product companies and not-for-profits, at home I enjoy being a wife to my husband, Daniel, and a mother to my 18-month-old son, Nolan, and my cat and dog! As part of the audit department, I am out at my clients’ offices most of the year, which is a great way to get to develop a deep understanding of my clients’ business, challenges and goals. This structure also allows me the opportunity to work with various audit teams throughout the course of the year and really get to know my fellow RSM team members. I also enjoy that my role as a manager allows me to serve as a career advisor for the younger members of my department and interview the next generation of RSM team members!

How has your role changed since you started?

I started with RSM as an intern between undergraduate and grad school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As I have developed from an intern to a manager, my role has transitioned from that of one that felt very focused on rules and audit programs to one that is now focused on people and building relationships. Though it may not seem that way at first glance, our profession is very much built on developing quality relationships – with your peers, with others at RSM and with your clients. It is the people behind the accounting that can drive an engagement to be successful or cause it to become challenging. It is learning how to handle different personalities and how to cultivate relationships that has changed for me over the years and become more of a focus. Although I didn’t expect accounting to be a “people profession” when I started my career, I am certainly glad it is!

What has made you stay at RSM?

The accounting industry is one of constant change and constant challenge, which I enjoy. I feel like this profession drives you to learn something new each and every day. What keeps me at RSM year after year are the opportunities I have been presented and the individualized focus I felt on achieving my career goals and objectives. RSM has provided me the opportunity to truly take hold of my career and run with it. When I wanted to accelerate my career, I worked with my career advisor to find the right engagements and internal activities to demonstrate that I had what it took to get to the next level. Leadership didn’t make me stick to a predetermined timeline for my next promotion or success, which really showed me that they valued my contribution and saw me as an individual. I also continued to feel this individualization after I had my son and didn’t return until mid-way through busy season. I again worked with my career advisor to develop a plan that would allow me to return to RSM and be a contributing team member and also have the time I needed with my young family. This support throughout my career journey has been paramount in my success and made my decision to stay at RSM an easy one.

What is the STAR Employee Network group and why did you decide to join?

The STAR Employee Network Group (ENG) focuses on Stewardship Teamwork Advancement and Retention of women at RSM. STAR supports these goals by promoting advocacy and mentorship and by providing professional development programs to RSM employees. I decided to join the STAR ENG as I think there is a lot of opportunity within the public accounting sector – at RSM and across the board – to increase the number of strong women in positions of leadership. RSM and the STAR ENG are supportive of this mission and I am excited to be part of a group of individuals that can develop and create our next generation of women leaders in the workplace.

What events have you participated in with STAR and how has this group helped you in your career?

I currently serve as the Charlotte office lead for our chapter of STAR. In this role, and as part of the ENG, I had the opportunity to host a women’s leadership breakfast that included a panel of women leaders from the Charlotte office across all business lines. I was also able to attend a mentoring luncheon that STAR sponsored in conjunction with the NC Association of Certified Public Accountants. The most rewarding event I have been part of though the STAR ENG was the Star Success Series this past fall. This was an intense multi-session experience where I worked with about a dozen of my female peers from across business lines in the South East to discuss and tackle issues and challenges we as women face in the workplace and the community. It was amazing to brainstorm ideas, develop solutions and build relationships with other strong women from RSM – each of whom had a different path to success.

How has your life changed since becoming a working mom and how has RSM helped ease the transition?

How HASN’T life changed?! Being a mom is absolutely fantastic, but it truly gives you an entirely different perspective on how to go about each day. Where my husband and I used to only have to focus on our wants, our schedule and our needs – it’s now all about ensuring we can create a good life for our whole family. Having a strong support system at home and creating a schedule that works for all three of us has been critical to developing a balance that works for my whole family and my career. As my son is still young, my husband and I are definitely still learning how to approach family life and all of the challenges that come with it, so it is also great to be surrounded by a supportive team at work.

One of the best things I did was to work with my RSM team to develop a flexible work option (FWO) upon returning to work. This allowed me to work reduced hours during busy season my first season back since my son was only a few months old. Though my husband was home taking his parenting leave, this flexibility during auditing’s busiest time allowed me to get home and spend time with my family so as to not miss the “little moments” and still be an active contributing member of the audit team.

Even when not on a FWO, this profession and company allow me the flexibility to do what I need to do for my son in the middle of the day should the need arise – from doctor’s appointments to school parties. Over the years I demonstrated my commitment to RSM and now RSM is demonstrating its commitment to me by offering flexibility when I need it most.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Get on the Rollercoaster

Written by Hunter Stevens, RSM Intern

Six interns recently had a chance to go “Behind the Cs” and sit down with RSM US LLPs top executives to talk about the accounting industry, RSM’s culture, career advice and much more. Read on to see what Hunter Stevens took away from spending an hour with COO Bill Gorman. 
Bill Gorman (Left) and Hunter Stevens (Right)

Bill Gorman, RSM chief operating officer, told a story about the pit in your stomach that you get before you go on a rollercoaster; that moment when you think, “Am I really about to do this”? Coincidently, this is the exact feeling I had going into a meeting with Bill himself. However, Bill’s advice was this: get on the rollercoaster because if you don’t you’ll never get to feel that excitement. He was right.

As nerve-wracking as it was meeting the COO, I left the meeting not only with an idea about his responsibilities, but also knowledge about important life lessons. The most significant thing that I noticed about Bill was that every question was answered with advice on how to better ourselves and help others. Every time, the answer came back to relationships and bettering yourself, and not being self-focused. In fact, the three biggest pieces of advice that he gave us were:

1. Be a great teammate

2. Be intentional about getting to know other people’s points of view

3. Be authentic

Bill doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. When I asked Bill what the most exciting part about being COO was, my expectation was that he would say something along the lines of, “getting to manage people” or “developing and implementing strategy” or something of the like. Instead he said, “This.” Bill’s authenticity and eagerness to help interns figure out the beginning of their careers made his advice all the more valuable. Not only did he believe these things, he lived these things, and that makes all the difference.

It reminded me about RSM’s emphasis on being not only client-focused, but also employee-focused. Bill was a prime example of how RSM puts value into caring for others, both clients and employees. However, the authenticity of the conversation made it clear that this wasn’t just an act, it’s who Bill is and, in turn, what the firm emulates. I came to realize that what we learn at work shouldn’t be that much different from what we learn at home. The values that Bill described to us were built on this: relationships. What we do should be focused on building relationships with others and understanding other’s points of view, be it your boss, your colleague, your family or your dog.

In my meeting with RSM’s COO, I was able to not only get advice on how to be successful and the best books to read, but advice on how to live. I am sure glad I got on the rollercoaster.

Help Others Up the Ladder

Written by Rachel Alexander, RSM Intern

Six interns recently had a chance to go “Behind the Cs” and sit down with RSM US LLPs top executives to talk about the accounting industry, RSM’s culture, career advice and much more. Read on to see what Rachel Alexander took away from spending an hour with CFO Doug Opheim. 
Rachel Alexander (Left) and Doug Opheim (Right)

It’s an interesting dynamic, an intern meeting with a C-level executive. At many companies this would be unheard of, but not at RSM. On day one of RSM’s Pathways externship program last summer, I got my first glimpse into the RSM culture. Everyone I spoke with, no matter their line of business or staff level, had a consistent story that described an incredibly unique culture. From the beginning of my internship this summer, it was clear that the rigid, hierarchical stigma of a global organization was nowhere to be found. This feeling was cemented when I was given the opportunity to sit down with RSM’s Chief Financial Officer, Doug Opheim.

Doug took an hour out of his busy schedule to have a conversation with two Minneapolis summer interns. To me, this spoke volumes about his character, saying more than words ever could. As the CFO of the largest member firm in a global organization, every minute is precious and must be well spent. Over the course of those 60 minutes, Doug graciously passed on wisdom formed from years of hard work, grit and determination.

Of the many topics surfaced, the advice Doug gave left the greatest impression. Building your personal brand early in your career is one piece of advice that he stressed. Maximizing strengths and addressing weaknesses allows you to zero in on areas of expertise and create your brand. I had always been conscious of my strengths and weaknesses, but Doug's advice reaffirmed that setting aside pride, exposing your weaknesses, and not being afraid of failure is the key to individual learning and growth. I'm convinced that life is a journey of continuous learning, and with each milestone it affords the opportunity to keep molding and perfecting your personal brand.

The most impactful piece of advice I received from Doug was one that was passed on to him years ago. To paraphrase, “As you keep climbing the ladder of success, never forget to turn around and help those behind you up their next step.” I think this is so incredibly important. It creates a cycle of continuous improvement: a self-reinforcing culture that generates opportunities for all. As an intern, I am grateful he is living out that advice, and that his method of treating others is perpetuated throughout RSM. As I continue to advance my career, these lessons Doug passed will stay with me. I only hope to be able to help others up the ladder in the future as well.

How To Advance Your Career at RSM

Written By Parth Patel, RSM Intern

Six interns recently had a chance to go “Behind the Cs” and sit down with RSM US LLPs top executives to talk about the accounting industry, RSM’s culture, career advice and much more. Read on to see what Parth Patel took away from spending an hour with CEO Joe Adams. 
Joe Adams (Left) and Parth Patel (Right)

Being an intern can be a roller coaster of emotions. From the first day of networking with a recruiter to the first day of training, we were filled with excitement and jitters. Personally, I had zero sense as to what my role as an intern with RSM was going to entail. Never in a million years would I imagine myself sitting across from RSM’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner Joe Adams and chatting about our careers in public accounting. He gave me some useful advice on how employees at the firm, specifically interns who want to stick in public accounting, can quickly advance through the ranks.

When I first joined the firm in June, I immediately noticed was how genuine and competent the employees are. They listened to my needs and helped me figure out any problems I had, which ultimately tied into the advice Joe gave me about becoming a game-changer at the firm. Whether you aspire to be a partner one day or are still an intern trying to come on full-time, listening to your coworkers’ thoughts and ideas are vital. Furthermore, sharing your own knowledge that you have gained throughout your career to help develop others is a key to success. As an intern, my job is to be a sponge. I absorb as much knowledge as I can from my team, partners and staff all around the office. Then, I release all this information I learned to my fellow interns and anyone who may need help. Throughout this internship, we have helped each other increase our knowledge and skills and grow as well-rounded individuals.

For anyone that is looking to take that extra step in their career, I recommend taking initiative in developing others and promoting a learning environment. Bringing positive energy to RSM will help not only you, but those around you. The most important thing I learned so far in this internship is that we are only as strong as the people around us. To bring the firm to the next level requires all of us to work together. Ask questions, be curious, provide guidance and work harder than you ever imagined you could.

An Hour with Doug Opheim

Written by Kaleb Kier, RSM Intern

Six interns recently had a chance to go “Behind the Cs” and sit down with RSM US LLPs top executives to talk about the accounting industry, RSM’s culture, career advice and much more. Read on to see what Kaleb Kier took away from spending an hour with CFO Doug Opheim.
Kaleb Kier (Left) and Doug Opheim (Right)

Spend an hour with RSM Chief Financial Officer Doug Opheim and by the time you are finished you will feel like you hold the key to success both as a business professional and in your personal life. I had the opportunity to do just that along with another Minneapolis intern and not only learned about those keys to success, but also learned more about Doug and what he is passionate about.

One of the greatest things about our conversation was that Doug is he just a guy like us (well, obviously he has a tremendous talent and his track record can prove that), and loves to have fun just like anyone else. During our conversation, he continually stressed that we should make sure we enjoy ourselves outside and within work. Some of the ways Doug has fun outside work is to golf and attend Minnesota Twins games as a season ticket holder.

In addition to having fun in your life, Doug could not be more adamant that we need to find our personal brand. That is, identify and maximize your strengths, and minimize your weaknesses. He became so successful because he feels he did this (and I can’t disagree with him). Doug’s career started, and continues to grow, with RSM. He found his strength, which was auditing, and used that to his advantage to get on the fast track to partner, Board Member and eventual CFO in a fairly short amount of time.

When asked what his biggest accomplishment was at the firm, he said it would have to be when the firm bought back its non-attest assets and business from H&R Block. It turned a Midwest regional firm into a national firm that provides services just about everywhere in the country! He was incredibly proud to have such a large impact on the whole process and is very proud we as a firm have stayed true to our roots. All of the 90 RSM locations across the U.S. still have a Midwest family and community culture, no matter which office you visit, from east coast to west.

As we wrapped up the meeting, he had one last piece of advice to add. “Throughout your whole career, keep climbing the stairs to improve yourself … but remember when you’re heading up to turn around and help others up those steps along the way.” He said he would not be in the position he is in now if it weren’t for someone who chose to turn around, stick their neck out for him and help him up.

Our CEO is a "Regular Joe"

Written by Grace Moriarty, RSM Intern

Six interns recently had a chance to go “Behind the Cs” and sit down with RSM US LLPs top executives to talk about the accounting industry, RSM’s culture, career advice and much more. Read on to see what Kaleb Kier took away from spending an hour with CFO Doug Opheim.
Grace Moriarty (Left) and Joe Adams (Right)

My summer with RSM has been one to remember. The opportunity to meet with our Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner Joe Adams, was certainly the highlight.

Rather than a meeting, our hour together became a casual conversation in which Joe gave valuable insight as to what we can expect from a career with RSM in addition to how he sees the industry changing in the near future.

While Joe had the knowledge and expertise of a CEO, he seemed very down to earth and relatable. He advised us on the importance of listening to others and not being afraid to ask for help. I was excited to share with him that everyone I’ve asked for help this summer instantly dropped what they were doing to help and were genuinely happy to do so. Joe’s influence definitely plays a part in this. The firm clearly attracts people who will work together and help each other.

Throughout our discussion, Joe’s focus on people was evident. He shared his belief that being successful requires helping those behind you to succeed. In addition, he talked about the importance of building strong relationships in the workplace. As we chatted, he revealed much more about RSM’s culture through stories about company sporting events and holiday parties that proved the people here are more than coworkers, they are teammates and lifelong friends.

My favorite part of the discussion was on Joe’s desire to improve the firm’s international presence, particularly by increasing the number of expatriates. For me, this was exciting because I hope to have the opportunity to obtain international assignments throughout my career. RSM has already given me a great opportunity to explore my international interests through my work in their International Tax team this summer. Joe’s remarks further assured me that RSM can offer great opportunities to pursue the areas of accounting that excite me, with a team-oriented culture and small office feel.

RSM’s Behind the C’s program gave Joe the power to understand our concerns as we begin our careers, while giving us the power to understand our leader on a personal level. The unique opportunity to meet with a CEO and managing partner of more than 9,000 employees in a two-on-one setting as an intern is one I will never forget.

Build Relationships and Never Give Up

Written by Jordan Barrett, RSM Intern 

Six interns recently had a chance to go “Behind the Cs” and sit down with RSM US LLPs top executives to talk about the accounting industry, RSM’s culture, career advice and much more. Read on to see what Jordan Barrett took away from spending an hour with COO Bill Gorman.

Jordan Barrett (Left) and Bill Gorman (Right)
I recently graduated from Loyola University Maryland. A big part of the reason I decided to go there was because I got a great sense of community and the professors cared about everyone’s success while at Loyola and after graduation. After speaking with Bill Gorman, RSM’s chief operating officer, I got that same feeling. There are a lot of opportunities for growth here at RSM, and the key is to build relationships.

One way to build relationships is through RSM’s Employee Network Group (ENGs), part of our culture, diversity and inclusion work. I asked Bill about diversity at RSM and he was very straight-forward, noting the firm is always working to increase our diversity, in all senses of the word. Bill was very honest about everything I wanted to know about the firm. I appreciated him being upfront and I liked how he said that they are working to increase diversity throughout the firm. RSM has the ENGs to help spread awareness to everyone about different cultures and identities.

I was also curious about where Bill thinks RSM will be going in the next five to ten years. He said he does not know what exactly will happen five to ten years down the line, but he is comfortable saying RSM is willing to adapt and change as technology continues to develop and grow. For example, over the last several years, there has been a trend for companies to move back into major cities around the United States. RSM offices around the country have followed this trend by increasing their presence in big cities. Life is about adapting to changes and RSM is willing to continue to adapt as we move forward toward future.

Overall, I was thrilled that I got the opportunity to talk to Bill Gorman. I learned a lot about what he does as COO and why he has stayed at RSM for so many years. I realized that RSM has many areas of opportunity to learn and grown.

He left us some advice as we were going through our discussion. He told us to continue to be a good teammate. When everyone does their fair share, it makes all the jobs easier. And from my experience, the team at RSM is willing to help everyone succeed. He also told us to never give up. If you want to do something, do it and do not hold back. Everyone makes mistakes but we should keep trying until we achieve our goals.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Living our Values: Integrity

Jason Commerford
Audit Senior Associate
Irvine, CA 
One of RSM’s five core values is integrity.

In life we are all faced with situations that will force us to make a choice between doing what is easy and what is right. When faced with a tough circumstance, it is a person’s integrity that compels them to do what is right as opposed to what is easy. It is due to this, that integrity is the value on which all others rely.

In my career I have seen the importance of this value time and time again. Before I started at RSM, I heard of how dedicated those in leadership were to developing, understanding and motivating those individuals under their guidance to achieve their goals and the goals of the firm. Once I began work at RSM, I realized that it was the integrity of those individuals that allowed them to consistently achieve this goal, no matter the lengths they had to go through to achieve it. I have had mangers and mentors go above and beyond to ensure that I was accomplishing the goals I had set out for myself. I am honored to work alongside people of integrity here at RSM.

My favorite quote: “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters” – Albert Einstein.

Monday, July 24, 2017

RSM's externship helps participant "reach for the stars"

Michael Babick, a junior at Texas Tech University, recently attended RSM’s technology and management consulting-focused Pathways externship program in Minneapolis and shared his thoughts on his experience:

The past two and a half days have been a whirlwind in the Twin Cities, but I couldn't be happier! RSM flew me up to Minneapolis for their 2017 Technology and Management Consulting Pathways [externship] program. My trip started Monday when I left DFW, on my birthday, to fly up to MSP. After a quick and easy flight, I took the light rail into Downtown Minneapolis and checked into my hotel, The Marquette, where RSM had booked us rooms. The plan was to explore Downtown Minneapolis, but by the time I got settled in I decided I'd rather kick back, get some work done, and call it a night early ... after all, I had a lot to look forward to the next day.

Day one kicked off with a quick breakfast and a welcome from Pat Vance, technology and management consulting principal at RSM. The day was filled with technical trainings detailing service offerings, Q&A with consultants, lunch with the partners and principals, a client sharing their experiences with RSM, team building (it turns out tech consultants aren't the most talented artists), a presentation on what stewardship means at RSM, and finally the food tour. Oh my gosh. The food tour ... so good, five words: chipotle maple glazed chicken wings.

Day two was really a chance for us to challenge ourselves and step outside of our comfort zone. RSM's Bottom Line Simulation showed attendees what it's like to be responsible for business development at a firm. From defining your values and other key characteristics, which potential clients consider, to determining a break even and sending the proposal to the client. While the team I was matched with didn't win, it was still a blast and showed not only just how intense the consulting world can be when competing for business, but also the challenges and huge weight that come with that responsibility.

All in all, this was an amazing opportunity to see what technology consulting is like in an accelerated timeframe. Looking back as I write on the plane home, I'm so happy I applied for the program back in April. I got the opportunity to meet some incredible students and peers, RSM employees, and learned more than I would have ever expected. The program was put together incredibly well, it seemed as though the RSM employee to participant ratio was 1:1 at times, the energy in the room was contagious thanks to the program leaders and I wouldn't doubt that every student who attended left the office feeling as though they could reach for the stars, and the stars would be within reach.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Interview with Ayesha Ali, IT Risk Associate in Chicago

Introduce yourself and share three fun facts about yourself. 

Hi! I’m Ayesha Ali! And I…
  • am the first one in my family to graduate college
  • go to a concert at least once a month
  • love donuts 
What is your favorite part of working for RSM?

I love how RSM truly values its employees and is committed to providing work life balance. I expected a lot of late nights at the client and coming to the office on the weekends to keep up with the workload. I was pleasantly mistaken. While I do have a long night once in a while at RSM, most days I’m home before 7 p.m. with no work to do at night. I’m able to come home, rest and come back into the office the next day relaxed and ready to go.

Also, the people here are truly one of a kind. The members of my department are all incredibly friendly, intelligent and hard working. Working alongside these individuals has made my experience here even more delightful.

You were hired as an experienced associate, how did you integrate yourself within the team so quickly?

Because I had experience, the team had a lot of faith in me and immediately assigned me onto an engagement. There’s no better way to learn a company’s methodology than going through an audit right from the get go. Everyone was very patient with me while I adjusted to RSM’s culture. Also, my in-charges really took me under their wings as mentors to me, and that helped me feel welcomed into the firm.

What has it been like working with you team members thus far? Any fun stories?

Working in teams on engagements, as opposed to working by myself in my past jobs, makes it easier to develop great relationships with my coworkers. I truly felt like I was part of a team, where my coworkers had my back. It’s always hard to learn a new methodology and many of my in-charges were extremely patient in my transition.

Furthermore, I dislocated my knee in January and was on crutches for two months. During that time, my managers were so understanding and allowed me to work from home when getting to a client site was difficult. The days I could actually make it to the client, my team members really helped me out by buying me lunch, filling up my water bottle and making sure I got home safe.

I think the unique situation I was put in caused my coworkers to feel empathic for me and because of their help in the transition and injury, I developed strong relationships with each of them where we work hard together to finish an audit, but we’re also great friends.

How would you describe the team and culture here at RSM compared to other firms you have worked for?

In a word, world class (okay, two words). RSM gives its employees enough work on their plate so that they are busy and challenged. I’m never bored at RSM and I see so many opportunities to do incredible things here that will help the company but also help me to grow as an individual.

Working at other firms, I used to always feel like my head was just above water in terms of my workload. At RSM, that feeling is a rarity. With the audit structured the way it is, I have a better handle on my work and don’t feel like I’m about to drown every day.

Lastly, I can’t stress this enough, the people here are what makes you fall in love with this place. RSM only hires the best individuals and it shows in the great teamwork, the high quality of service we provide, and the professional and friendly attitude to serve with it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer Internship Advice

For college students, summer is a time to enjoy the warm weather, reunite with old friends, go on vacation, and also…intern! RSM welcomed 475 summer interns across the country. Some walked through our doors feeling as confident as ever, others walked through a little nervous and unsure of what to expect.

What advice would former interns (now current associates or incoming associates) give this year’s summer intern class? Here is what a few had to say about being a successful intern at RSM:

“Do not be afraid to ask questions … but then be a sponge and learn from the questions you have asked. Also, build relationships with your in-charges, managers and partners.” – Kim K.

“Practice using Excel! And, hang out with the interns outside the office at happy hour or lunch.” – Austin L.

“Go outside of your comfort zone and try to accomplish work outside of the typical intern responsibilities. Network as much as possible. There will be some downtime so having people you can reach out to for extra work comes in handy.” – Garrett L.

“Take advantage of the good coffee in the office.” – Natalie N.

“Go out of your way to meet people! The work environment at RSM is fantastic and meeting as many people as possible is the best way to see how well you would fit in. Save the money you make and do something you will really enjoy with it. A few of your last paychecks could help pay for a trip to Europe!” – Henry H.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Culture: Putting Employees First

By Vineet Anand, PCS Tax Senior Associate, Houston

“Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion.” -Brian Chesky, CEO, Airbnb

Today’s working environment, to put it simply, can be a thrilling ride of working through challenging engagements while trying to achieve the peaks of accomplishment and self-worth. A key driving force pointing to one’s place on this ride is the culture put into action in the workplace.

I have had the pleasure of working in the Houston office of RSM since August 2016. Prior to joining the firm, I took an introspective look into my true professional needs. All signs pointed to culture at the workplace as the key to longevity and I’m happy to report that my tenure here has exceeded all expectations.

The humble roots of the Houston office can be traced back to Margolis, Phipps and Wright, P.C., a local tax firm focused on private client services. Acquired by McGladrey, now RSM, in 2013, the Houston office mixes the best of both cultures as evidenced every day at the office. Always cognizant of the end goal, the firm recognizes the prevalence of different work styles and promotes flexibility whenever possible. The commitment that management has put forth into putting employees first is a testament to the firm’s values and one of the many reasons I’m proud to be a part of the team.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Congratulations to RSM’s 2016 Elijah Watt Sells award winners!

Congratulations to 2016's Elijah Watt Sells award winners! Pictured from left to right: Tony Depiano, Kat Koehl, Dena Konneker, Rosemary Mantle, and Olivia Spooner. 

Five RSM associates were recently awarded the 2016 Elijah Watt Sells Award by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for outstanding performance on the Uniform CPA Examination.

These associates are part of a select group who passed all four sections of the exam on the first try within the same year and with a cumulative average score above 95.5 on all four sections. More than 102,000 candidates sat for the exam in 2016 and only 58 were honored with the award.

Join us in congratulating:

Tony DePiano, Boston

Tony graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2015 with a degree in accounting. Before joining RSM full-time in Oct. 2015, he completed a 2013 externship and a 2014 internship with RSM.

Tony's advice for others taking the CPA exam: “just crush it.” He also believes that the secret of getting ahead is getting started.

Kat Koehl, Chicago

Kat joined RSM in September 2016 after making a career change from marketing and going back to the Ohio State University to get her master's in accounting.

Kat was naturally excited and surprised when she found out she won the award. "I wasn't aware of the award at first, I just knew I wanted to get the exams out of the way while the knowledge was still fresh in my head," she explained. "I worked hard and took the studying very seriously and it worked out."

Dena Konneker, Raleigh

Dena graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill with a Master of Science in accounting in 2016. She joined RSM as an associate in November 2016 and finished the last section of the exam in December 2016.

Dena recommends studying at the pace you're most comfortable when studying for the exam since everyone learns differently and has different goals.

Rosemary Mantle, Atlanta

Rosemary completed her undergraduate degree in accounting at the University of Central Florida and earned her Masters of Accountancy in May 2016 at the University of Georgia. She interned with RSM in the summer of 2015, before joining us full-time in November 2016.

Rosemary's advice to future test takers: know your own study habits and strengths, make a study plan that works for you and stick to it. "The CPA exam was one of the hardest experiences I've undertaken but the rewards have already made it worth the effort," she said.

Olivia Spooner, Boston

Olivia graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Vermont with bachelor's degrees in accounting, finance and economics and a master's degree in accountancy. Olivia interned for RSM in summer 2015 and joined the firm as an associate full-time in October 2016.

Olivia recommends taking the CPA exam as early in your career as possible.

The Elijah Watt Sells Award program was established in 1923 by the AICPA to recognize outstanding performance on the CPA Examination. Elijah Watt Sells, who passed away in 1924, was one of the country's first CPAs, was active in establishing the AICPA and was a leader in advancing professional education within the profession.

Monday, June 26, 2017

4 Keys to Excellence

In the mid-80s, Tom Peters published arguably one of the most influential business books ever, In Search of Excellence. Tom defined eight characteristics of excellent companies:
  • a bias for action 
  • staying close to the customer 
  • autonomy and entrepreneurship 
  • productivity through people 
  • clear and compelling organizational values 
  • focusing on what you do best 
  • operating with a lean staff 
  • finding a balance between having enough structure without getting stuck in it 

While for the most part, these eight characteristics still hold true today, the business world has changed a little (OK, a lot) in the last 30 years. At RSM we take excellence seriously – it’s one of our core values. And I’d say four characteristics of excellence that Peters listed really stand out for us:

Staying close to the customer

For RSM, building enduring relationships with our clients is key. Effective communication and generous listening enables our clients to truly be understood. By continuously developing these relationships, we become true business advisors and assist our clients with achieving their goals.

Focusing on what you do best

At RSM, we are focused on being the first-choice advisor to middle market leaders. This laser focus allows us to be the best at what we do and bring tremendous value to our clients. By staying focused, we are able to be the leading firm serving the middle market.

Having clear and compelling organizational values

At RSM, our five core values drive everything we do. We live these values every day and that makes RSM a great place to work.
  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Teamwork
  • Excellence
  • Stewardship
Autonomy and entrepreneurship

At RSM our professionals have the autonomy to work when and where works best for them and their clients. And an entrepreneurial spirit is one of key qualities we look for when bringing new people into the firm – someone who is always looking for opportunities to improve themselves and positively impact their clients’ businesses.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Celebrate Good Times, COME ON!

You’ve just completed a big project. You and your team have been working SO hard to support your clients and ensuring you hit all of your goals successfully, and you did it! Congratulations! What better way to celebrate than with those who were by your side through it all? You have met all of your deadlines, and now it’s time to celebrate!

At RSM, we make sure to celebrate our people’s hard work and our post-busy-season events have surely become ones to remember. Hosted once a year, we come together to celebrate each other, our efforts and all our hard work. With food, music, games, generous raffles and prizes, everyone has a great time. Whether you’re mingling with a Partner, or taking selfies with your managers– we come together, not only as a team or an office, but as a family!

Our west-coast employees felt the warm sand in-between their toes at the Pacific Edge Hotel, enjoyed delicious pizza at Basic, or relished the beautiful city views of Downtown LA and the tallest skyscrapers around from the ultra-chic Elevate Lounge during recent post-busy-season parties. 

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.