October 1, 2021

The Evolution

The Evolution

So, to pick up where I left off last week… In two very short years, Marcum became a national firm. From two New York-based offices in 2008, by the end of 2010 we had additional offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Philadelphia, Boston, Hartford, New Haven, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Irvine. We went from 2 offices to 10, and roughly 450 people to 900, practically overnight.

I have the “easy” part of the job, finding M&A candidates, figuring out if they fit into Marcum, selling them on the virtues of being part of our firm, negotiating the financial aspects of the deal, etc. Then I create havoc for the Marcum operations and service teams by going on to the next possible opportunity, while leaving them the hard work of integration — HR, finance, marketing, IT, operations, as well as our tax, accounting and assurance service lines. So by the beginning of 2011, after four transactions that doubled our size, our people were all asking me to slow down, something I wasn’t accustomed to. But I knew they were right and needed time to properly integrate all the new people and offices into Marcum.

So our strategic plan had to evolve, in order to give me something to do and to keep building the Firm. I truly believe we do a great job and provide great service to our clients, but if I’m honest with myself, I know that no matter how good each of our individual offices is, there’s something that each could use that would make them better. I truly believe honest self-evaluation is one of the keys to entrepreneurial success. If we had to take a self-imposed break from geographic expansion, why not continue the M&A strategy by trying to make the 10 offices we had better? And part of the strategy to make them better became “tuck ins” into existing Marcum offices.

2012 brought the additions of Robert Finnegan & Lynch into our Boston office and Konowitz Kahn into our New Haven office. In 2013, Parent McLaughlin & Nagel joined us in Boston, Cornerstone Accounting Group joined in New York City, and Wilson Morgan in Irvine. It wasn’t until 2014 that we expanded into new geography again — Needham, MA (Braver & Co) and Greenwich, CT (Thomas E. Finn.) And we were on our way again. Today, Marcum has 29 offices throughout the U.S. as well as seven international offices (Ireland, China and Grand Cayman).

And the evolution continues. There are now three prongs in our M&A strategy: geographic expansion into new markets, tuck ins into existing offices, and sector-based expansion in our clients’ major industry groups. Our strategic plans NEVER had numbers associated with them. We NEVER focused on a dollar amount by which to increase revenue. We NEVER focused on how much our profitability would increase. We NEVER chased the numbers.

What we did do was create a strategy that made sense for our business and would enable us to keep growing, and as a result the numbers took care of themselves. All too often companies set revenue or profit goals, only to make bad short-term decisions to meet them. While revenue and profit growth is important, it should be the result, not the reason.

The recession that started in the Spring of 2008 lasted well into 2011 for Marcum. It wasn’t until late 2011 into 2012 that we actually started to grow again organically. The coronavirus pandemic put a pause in our M&A efforts for a good part of 2020, but since late 2020 into 2021 activity has picked up again.

In addition to maintaining a pipeline of new client opportunities, we have a robust pipeline of firms we’d like to be part of Marcum. Both pipelines change on a virtually daily basis.

So there you have it. The Marcum story in three episodes.

Thank you for following along. I hope I answered some questions about how Marcum got to be where and who we are, and more importantly, about our vision for building a vital firm with the reach and capability to be a true partner to our clients in their success.

Have a great weekend everybody.