GMAA - Global Management Analysts Association

Lipschultz, Levin & Gray

You might be surprised to find the passionate emphasis placed on people at a CPA firm. Yet, at Lipschultz, Levin & Gray , self—described “head bean counter” Steven P. Siegel recognizes that his people make the organization. He describes his primary responsibility as assuring that LLG's clients have the best professionals working for them. And the best way to do this, Siegel feels, is by developing the creativity, talent, and diversity of its staff so that new knowledge can be acquired and shared without getting hung up on formal organizational relationships or having employees shut away in corner offices.

The commitment to its people starts with the company's mission, which says, “LLG's goal is to be the preeminent provider of the highest quality accounting, tax and consulting services. LLG accomplishes this goal by leaving no stone unturned in exploring new and superior alternatives of supplying our service, and developing such methods on a global basis. Our environment promotes creativity, individual development, group interchange. diversity, good humor, family and community, all for the purpose of assisting in our clients' growth.” To further demonstrate that commitment, Siegel has implemented several significant changes at LLG. Because he's convinced that people do their best intellectual work in nontraditional settings, every telltale sign of what most people consider boring, dull CPA work has been eliminated. None of the firm's employees or partners has an office or desk to call his or her own. Instead, everyone is part of a nomadic arrangement where stuff (files, phones, laptops) is wheeled to a new spot every day. Everywhere you look in the company's office, you see versatility, comfort, and eccentricity. For instance, a miniature golf course is located in the middle of everything. The motivation behind this open office design is to create opportunities for professionals to gather-on purpose or by accident-without walls, cubicles, or offices to get in the way.

Visitors to LLG realize that the firm is different as soon as they walk in the door. A giant, wall-mounted abacus (remember the image of bean counters) decorates the interior. And visitors are greeted by a “Welcome Wall” with a big-screen television that flashes a continuous slide show of one-liners about business, life, and innovation.The setting may be fun and lighthearted, but the LLG team is seriously committed to servicing its clients. So serious in fact, that they state: “We have one goal, to 'Delight' you. Good, even great, is not enough any more. We will 'Dazzle' you and we will guarantee it; We will deliver our service with integrity, honesty and openness in everything we do for you and with you; We will absolutely respect the confidentiality of our working relationship; We will return your phone calls, facsimiles and e-mails within 24 hours; We will always provide exceptional service, designed to help you add significant value to your business; We will meet the deadlines we set together with you; We will communicate with you frequently, building a win-win relationship with you; and You will always know in advance our fee arrangement for any service.”

Questions

  1. Keeping professionals excited about work that can be routine and standardized is a major challenge for Siegel. How could he use technical, human, and conceptual skills to maintain an environment that encourages innovation and professionalism in his CPA firm?
  2. What management roles would Steven be playing as he (a) made a presentation to potential? clients, (b) assessed the feasibility of adding a new consulting service, (c) kept employees focused on the company's commitments to customers?
  3. What can you tell about LLG's emphasis on customer service and innovation? In what ways does the organization support its employees in servicing customers and in being innovative?
  4. Would LLG's approach work for all CPA firms? Why or why not? What could other managers learn from Steven Siegel?