How did you get your start in accounting? What drew you in?
I got exposed to accounting in high school. Everyone else thought accounting was all about math and numbers, but I learned it is much more concept based. I really enjoyed learning about the system of accounting. In college, I realized everyone hated accounting because it was hard, but I thought I could be really good at it. I also thought that regardless of what I wanted to do for a living, an accounting background would serve me well. And it has.
When you meet with clients, especially a new client, what is your main focus?
When I meet a client for the first time, my main focus is to listen and learn. Regardless of how much I may know about a particular industry, every business and business owner is unique. For me to provide real value, I need to fully understand what makes this client unique. Once I have that figured out, my focus shifts to how I can help them grow and make more money.
During your tenure at VonLehman you helped in expanding the firm’s service area and grew employees from 28 in 1990 to over 140 in 2020. How does this experience prepare you for your role at RCP?
The key to VL’s success was surrounding myself with really talented and entrepreneurial people with a common vision of creating a legacy firm that is focused on making our clients better. Working in a CPA firm for over 40 years gives me great insights on what really makes companies soar. I plan on using the same insights for every portfolio company that RCP looks at and ultimately invests in.
You have had hundreds of clients as a CPA and advisor over the years. How is this experience beneficial to the businesses you will work with at RCP?
Over the course of my career, I have developed significant expertise in the areas of taxation and helping many clients sell their business. This tax expertise is usually outsourced in most private equity firms but is something I and RCP will be able to provide directly to our portfolio companies. This gives RCP an advantage in buying and positioning our portfolio companies to sell when it is time.
What do you consider to be your greatest success in your career?
I have been incredibly fortunate my entire career to have great people to work with and great clients to grow with. What I am most proud of is giving so many colleagues an opportunity to experience the same satisfaction that I have by me being a partner in an excellent CPA firm.
Who really is Brian?
While it appears that I have achieved a lot over my 40-year CPA career, it doesn’t tell the whole story. I grew up with very modest means and put myself through college as a waiter. After college, I was offered a job at Arthur Andersen (AA), which was the biggest and considered by many as the most prestigious CPA firm in the country.
AA had extremely high qualifications to even interview and at the time, I did not qualify. However, the partner interviewing that day noticed I had worked full time through college and since he had done the same thing, he offered me a job.
At AA, I worked in their tax department and immediately felt outclassed as most of my peers had a law degree or a masters degree and I had only a bachelor’s degree. I immediately understood that the only way I could survive against my competition is to outwork them. AA taught me a very valuable lesson about work ethic and integrity that I still believe in today.
During this time, I married my wife Leisa, who I had met at a party in Lexington years before. We started our lives together with about $350 to our name (mostly Leisa’s money!).
Ten years at AA gave me an opportunity to become the tax director at VonLehman (VL). VL was exactly what I was looking for and the firm and I both had significant success. Working as a partner and a CPA has to be one of the best jobs you could possibly have: you have knowledge and expertise that very few people have and hopefully, you have the ability to communicate to those you are trying to help.
My job in the last forty years has been helping clients achieve their goals. I don’t see my role at RCP any different. I am really looking forward to this chapter in my life.