Meet the World’s Coolest Accounting Firm
Rothstein Kass offers flexible working, back-up daycare, and will even send someone round to your house to wait for the cable guy - making the firm possibly the 'coolest' place to work in accounting.
Focusing in the alternative investment space, Rothstein Kass has twice been ranked the “Coolest Accounting Firm” by Going Concern, beating out the Big Four and a host of other small accounting firms.
Just last month, the 1,000-person company finished with the top ranking in 11 different workplace categories in Vault.com’s annual survey. Rothstein Kass was ranked to have the best culture, work/life balance, hours, employee satisfaction and benefits. It finished fourth in compensation.
“Rothstein Kass truly cares about its employees’ career development and offers numerous training opportunities to help its staff grow professionally,” said Derek Loosvelt, Vault’s senior finance editor. “It also offers generous perks and benefits, including significant vacation time and flexible work arrangements.”
The firm, which maintains nine offices in the U.S. and one in the Cayman Islands and Ireland, credits its unique focus as one of the contributing factors to its 6% annual employee attrition rate, a tiny number in accounting.
Roughly 70% of the work is done in the alternative investment arena, working with hedge funds, private equity firms and venture capitalists, said Chris Mears, managing partner of Rothstein’s Roseland, New Jersey office.
Like other firms, Rothstein provides tax and auditing support. However, it also offers consulting services, like risk, compliance and management strategy, along with a host of wealth management services, offerings most smaller firms won’t provide. They’ll work with hedge funds, broker dealers and even portfolio companies, giving employees the rush of having exposure to higher end, diversified clients, Mears said. Rothstein employs more than just accountants.
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Rothstein’s management looks at benefits and employee wellness programs from an analytical point of view. Initiatives are built with the firm’s best interest in mind – to retain top employees – and are designed to be used. If employees aren’t utilizing a program, it gets thrown in the scrap heap.
The firm offers an unusually flexible schedule. Everyone needs to be in the office for the core hours – 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Full-time employees can then choose how they would like to fill out the rest of their 40-hour week, whether coming in early or staying late. Employees can also apply for a customized work arrangement, dropping from full-time to two or three days per week. “The flexible work schedule does wonders for retaining working parents.” Mears said.
Rothstein also provides backup daycare – something Mears called a “home run” – and concierge services. They’ll have someone wait at your house for you to connect your cable, for example. The services quietly keep productivity up.
Its “Tour of Duty” program helped Rothstein sneak into Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, at number 80. Employees can apply to spend up to a year at a different Rothstein office, say in California, and can then decide whether they’d like to stay or return to their original work location. It’s a work vacation, so to speak.
Employees can also apply for paid-leave to travel internationally or spend time at home. They can take a sabbatical for up to three months and still receive 20% pay.
The company operates a separate program called LIFE (Leadership, Inspiration, Family and Empowerment) aimed at attracting and retaining top female talent. Initiatives under the LIFE wrapper include mentoring programs and strategic alliances with companies in complimentary industries.
Rothstein Kass maintains a committee that absorbs recommendations from employees, designs programs based on need and assesses their effectiveness through a cost-benefit analysis. If it keeps good people happy, and contributes to better service and stronger growth, it stays, said Mears. If not, it goes.
As for the firm’s culture, Mears pointed toward the Rothstein’s compensation plan. The firm employs a pool compensation structure for its partners, aligning their pay with the goals of the company. “It creates a team atmosphere,” Mears said.
The Bad News
If you’re looking to find work at Rothstein Kass, you’ll likely need to start from the bottom. Mears confirmed that the company just made a round of job cuts – reportedly as many as 100 experienced staffers were let go.
The reason, according to Mears, is not a lack of growth; Rothstein expects revenue to increase by roughly 8% this year. The problem, if you can call it that, is the lack of attrition. People just aren’t quitting. At Rothstein’s headquarters in New Jersey, the attrition rate was 6% in 2012. It was 4% in 2013 before the layoffs. The overall attrition rate in the U.S. is just over 3% – per month, not per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Assessing our capacity, we realized for the past year that attrition rates have been ultra-low,” Mears said. “We can’t grow revenue that fast.”
Rothstein Kass, like other accounting firms, makes a big hiring push for entry-level graduates each spring. The pipeline got too full, he said.
“From a lateral point of view, we’re not hiring,” Mears said. “On the entry-level side, we’ll continue to grow.” Around 80 college graduates will start in the fall.