HoganTaylor, one of the largest business advisory and public accounting firms in Oklahoma and Arkansas, recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the merger that formed the Firm.
HoganTaylor was formed out of a 2009 merger of two legacy firms–a pairing that would create a regional powerhouse that is today an Inside Public Accounting “Top 100 Firm.”
“It’s hard to believe it has been 10 years since HoganTaylor was formed out of a shared vision and passion to elevate the clients we serve,” Randy Nail, Chief Executive Officer of HoganTaylor, said. “In the years since the merger, we have accomplished so much together.”
Ten years later, HoganTaylor has established its reputation as a business advisory firm, increased its geographic footprint with an office in Little Rock, Ark., and more than doubled its size in terms of revenue and people.
Interview with HoganTaylor CEO Randy Nail
To mark the occasion, Chief Executive Officer of HoganTaylor, Randy Nail, sat down with the Firm’s Lead Advisory Partner, Robert Wagner, to reflect on the last 10 years–how the Firm has grown, why growth is important, and what’s next for HoganTaylor.
ROBERT WAGNER: Before we get into where we have been and where we are going, talk a little bit about who HoganTaylor is today.
RANDY NAIL: I believe that we’re a group of highly enthusiastic, engaged professionals who are clear about a mission and the core values that guide us in how we behave and how we interact with each other. These professionals are all about providing accounting and business advisory services to our wonderful clients, businesses, and individuals. So that’s who we are, I would say a highly engaged workforce that is eager to serve people and make a difference in their lives.
WAGNER: HoganTaylor is the result of the merger of two legacy firms. How did that combination come to be and what was the driving force?
NAIL: Yes. That merger was effective January 1, 2009. Both legacy firms had really good leaders that were wonderful partners, CPAs, and client service providers. But, in our profession, once you get to about $10 million in revenue you hit a ceiling, or a lid to use John Maxwell’s term. At this point, what got your firm to $10 million is not what is going to get you beyond $10 million. I think both leadership groups in the legacy firms understood that and then decided that a merger would allow the firms to become more, stay relevant and serve the kind of clients that they wanted to serve.
When those two $10 million legacy firms came together to form HoganTaylor, there were immediate benefits in terms of economies of scale, strength, size, and resources that allowed us to really catapult into what we are today.
We knew we were going to have to do something more to stay relevant and that was the emphasis. The theory worked, we put it together, and here we are 10 years later.
WAGNER: Let’s turn now to growth and viability. In 2012, you laid out the long-term vision that you wanted HoganTaylor to be an Inside Public Accounting Top 100 Firm. Why was that important for you?
NAIL: It’s really a balancing act. I think every firm should be very comfortable in their own skin, understand who they are, know what’s important to them, know where they’re going, and just execute on that, regardless of what’s going on in their profession or peer group.
On the other hand, you do have a peer group who you can begin to benchmark yourself against. You can take key performance indicators and you can decide which ones are most important to you and what makes you successful. So getting into the Top 100, for me, was not about a comparison that says “Aha, we’ve arrived.” It was that firms of that size have accomplished something and I want to experience that. I felt like if we were executing on our goals and living our core values and our mission, which are really all people-driven things, that the financial metrics would just come and that has been our experience.
But it was important for me to want to get into the Top 100 as an indication that we were on a right track for what successful firms in our profession in North America were doing. I also thought it would be a goal that our people could rally around.
I never wanted to be in the Top 100 just to be there. I felt like if we just executed on who we were, we would just find ourselves there, and I really wanted that to happen.
WAGNER: HoganTaylor has more than doubled in size since the two legacy firms came together in 2009. What’s the benefit of that?
NAIL: I always answer it this way: if we have a mission, are we executing on the mission? Is it working?
I think our mission is very noble. It is to add value, to make a positive difference in the lives of those that we serve. So if we’re doing that and it’s worthwhile and worthy, then why in the world would we not have a goal to have as many people on the planet experience those things? If our mission is so awesome, then don’t I want more people to experience that mission? If our core values are so good, then don’t we want to add more people?
To me growth is really always about the type of clients that we’re going to serve. It’s also about the types of people that were going to attract to serve those clients. I am, as a leader, under the assumption that all of those are always going to be growing. Now out of that comes new geographical locations and different kinds of services. The finances just kind of flow from that and growth happens.
I don’t want to speak for all of the partners right now, but for me, if we’re not growing, then something is wrong with our mission or our core values. It means we are not providing a benefit to society and our people, and I think we should. So, that’s what growth is about for me.
WAGNER: In looking back on 10 years of doing business as HoganTaylor, I think everyone would agree that the Firm has been a great success. Was there a “tipping point” along the way where there was there was agreement that “yes, this was good. This merger has been really awesome?”
NAIL: I think in the Oklahoma City office and the Fayetteville office, that probably all happened really quickly. The Tulsa office had most of the size—the number of people, number of clients—from both of the legacy firms. We were told it was going to take some time to get all of those diverse groups together and I still think we were a little bit naïve. We thought we could get it done a lot faster, but it really did take us awhile. I would say about three years in, so 2011 or 2012, everybody started looking around saying, “OK. This is who we are. This thing is us. It’s new. It’s good. It was right. It’s working. But now it’s time to quit talking about the merger and let’s move forward.”
WAGNER: What do you think the big differentiators are at HoganTaylor to the market? We’ve talked about a lot of things that are unique about HoganTaylor’s culture internally, but if I’m a client, what feels different?
NAIL: Our profession is full of great professionals who deliver really good service. So, I approach it from the perspective that most of our competition can do what they do very well.
So, again, for me, it’s back to the interaction with a group of people that are clear about why they’re there and the level of service they are going to provide. Our clients have said that working with our people and our Firm is different from what their other experiences have been like. That’s because we bring a heart, an attitude, and a mission to what we’re doing. I think that makes a difference. I really do.
WAGNER: Let’s turn our attention forward. Look into the crystal ball a little bit for us. The industry is really thinking a lot about the future and what changes may come as a result of new technology. Speculate a little bit about what HoganTaylor will be like 10 years from now?
NAIL: What we are today will not be what we are 10 years from now. I believe that, right now, we are a professional services firm that is in a transformation process. A transformation process of being much more than a CPA firm, becoming a full business advisory firm. So, in 10 years, if a client would need anything related to business issues, whether it is a marketing need, a human resources need, an information technology need, or really anything, HoganTaylor will be the first place they look.
We do, many, many other things now and we’re becoming known for those things. But, 10 years from now we’re going to be delivering on many services that we really can’t even conceive of right now. We will be a business advisory firm. We will have our CPAs. We will have HR professionals. We will have IT professionals. We will have marketing professionals. We will look much more like a business consulting firm than we do today.
Scroll through the timeline below to learn more about HoganTaylor’s growth and successes since the merger: