Achieving Success in Accounting: Follow Your Vision, Focus on Relationships

Advisory | Glenn L. Friedman | Apr 13, 2023

When Marc Specht graduated from college in 2010 with a degree in economics, the financial world had been decimated. Marc knew he wanted to pursue a financial services path but wasn’t sure in what capacity. Many companies were still eliminating positions.

“I met with a two-partner financial planning company that was an affiliate with Metis Group LLC (now Prager Metis),” Marc said. “Unlike the larger companies I was interviewing with, this one was offering a salary for a non-sales position that would allow me to learn the business without pressure.”

Within six months, Marc had his licenses as a financial advisor and insurance agent. The two partners had very different personalities, but Marc learned from both of them. Marc built strong partner relationships inside the CPA firm and earned their trust and confidence. The plan was that the two financial planning partners would eventually leave the firm to Marc with the assistance of the CPA firm.

This happened sooner than expected. Less than a year later, both partners had left the company.

“I was terrified,” Marc recalls. “I remember thinking the whole thing could fall apart and all these clients were relying on me. I was fortunate to have strong partner and client relationships and a professional network that supported me.”

Now running the company by himself with just one year of experience under his belt, Marc started calling every client to save each relationship, with the support and assistance of the CPA Partner relationships. He managed to retain more than 90 percent of the company’s clients.

The next step was to build a company.

“The Metis accounting partners had close relationships with financial advisors,” Marc said. “I asked them to introduce me to advisors who would be interested in a partnership to grow the business. I finally met with a group that aligned with our client first philosophy.”

Under Marc’s leadership, a $10 million practice turned into $150 million in about four years.

“Marc has always had a clear vision and he’s never been shy about doing what it takes to get there,” said Glenn Friedman, CEO of Prager Metis CPAs. “He has always been willing to learn, ask for help, and work hard to develop relationships with both partners and clients.

From Obstacle to Opportunity

Some of the accounting partners had resisted integrating financial planning and wealth management with the firm’s accounting services.

“One partner came right out and said to me that he was against the idea but would give me a shot,” Marc said. “He said it was up to me to build and maintain the relationships to make it work. I felt strongly about the potential to grow that arm of the firm and was grateful for that chance to make it work.”

The key was to have the foresight to see the reward down the road and the work ethic to turn this particular obstacle into an opportunity.

“Instead of being defeated by an obstacle, Marc recognized the opportunity,” Glenn said. “When you embrace these kinds of opportunities and overcome challenges by investing in relationships, you put yourself and your organization in a stronger position to achieve success.”

The joint venture disbanded in 2015 and Marc set out to continue building the financial advisory practice in conjunction with Prager Metis. New staff was hired and a Registered Investment Advisory Firm was formed under the name PM Wealth Management with Marc as CEO.

The relationships that had been formed and cultivated by the accounting partners were strengthened by Marc and his team. PM Wealth Management eventually merged with Perigon Wealth Management.

“We grew PM Wealth Management from $150 million to $700 million by the end of 2022,” said Marc, now a partner with Perigon Wealth Management and we now oversee around $5 billion in assets at Perigon. “The accounting partner who had opposed mixing wealth management with accounting has done a complete 180. Now he’s one of our strongest advocates. I appreciate that he believed enough in me to give me an opportunity, and it shows what kind of person he is to shift from skeptic to supporter.”

Defining Success

Today, Marc still works hard, but he sets his schedule, so he has time to spend with his family and enjoy life outside the office, including his love of automobiles. He has built a talented, reliable team to support the success and growth of Perigon.

“There’s a clear pattern here among young professionals who find success in this industry,” Glenn said. “Marc is the perfect example of someone who has a clear vision of where he wants to go, personally and professionally, and the determination and work ethic to achieve his vision. Financially, the sky’s the limit and we’re happy to support him on his journey.”

Marc’s road to success wasn’t easy, and he didn’t expect it to be. Of course, the reward has made the journey worth it.

“I knew success wouldn’t happen overnight,” Marc said. “I learned at a young age that you can’t judge your own success against people who have been in the business for a long time. Someone recently said to me that he wants to be where I am. I explained how I had to grind for 10 years to get here. You can’t expect to just hop into a certain role.”

Just as importantly, Marc attributes success and growth to strong relationships.

“It might sound cliché, but be kind to people and earn their trust,” Marc said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help from people who have been there. You don’t have to know everything all the time. You just need to know where to go for answers. The more energy you put into building a network of relationships, the faster your timeline to success will be.”

2023-04-14T09:25:15-04:00

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