Plante & Moran, LLP
Plante & Moran, LLP
Sales: $210 million (2005 est.)
NAIC: 541211 Offices of Certified Public Accountants; 541611 Administrative Management and General Management Consulting Services
Plante & Moran, LLP is the tenth largest accounting firm in the United States. In addition to performing the tasks of accounting, auditing, and tax preparation for its clients, the firm offers management consulting services in a variety of areas including wealth management, human resources, and technology. Plante & Moran serves mid-size businesses in the fields of manufacturing, financial services, health care, construction, real estate, and auto sales, as well as nonprofit organizations and municipal governments. The company has offices in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Tennessee, and Shanghai, China. Ownership is vested in the firm's partners, who number nearly 200.
The origins of Plante & Moran date to 1924, when Elorion Plante founded a small accounting firm in Detroit, Michigan. In 1941 he hired Frank Moran to assist him, after having become acquainted with the young man when he tutored his daughter. Moran, who had earned a degree in philosophy but had not studied accounting, worked briefly for Plante, and then for General Motors, before spending three years as a U.S. Navy supply officer during World War II.
After his return from the service, Moran came back to Detroit and began working for Plante once again, also taking night classes in accounting. After completing his studies he became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and in 1950 Plante elevated him to the level of partner, renaming the firm Plante & Moran. At this time their clients were typically small and medium-sized private firms, for which they performed accounting, auditing, and tax preparation.
Moran's background in philosophy led him to approach the job of accounting differently from many in the business, and he began to advise his clients on more than just financial matters. Bill Hermann, a later managing partner of the firm, told Crain's Detroit Business that Moran would look at his client's business "like a hand. Its strengths were the fingers, and the spaces between were gaps. He'd figure out how to help fill in the gaps to help the client."
To help clients improve their hiring practices, for example, in the early 1950s Moran began working with a psychologist to develop pre-employment tests to give to prospective hires. The tests were used to screen out people who were not likely to mesh with a firm's corporate culture or who were not suited for the work they would be asked to perform.
Moran also believed that his firm should adhere to the highest ethical standards, and he was confident that such a policy would yield long-lasting success. He had a circular view of the value of ethics, believing that hiring good people would result in them doing their work well, which would attract better clients, who in turn would pay good fees, which would enable the firm to pay its staff well, which would enable Plante & Moran to hire the best workers.
Frank Moran, Managing Partner: 1955
In 1955 Frank Moran became managing partner of the firm. He continued to broaden its offerings, such that by the early 1960s one-third of the company's revenues came from services other than auditing and accounting. As Plante & Moran grew it began hiring more staff, and Moran decided to create a hierarchy that was different from most firms of its type. Rather than having a structure with numerous levels of authority, he decided on just three: staff, associate, and partner. He felt that this would encourage employees to work more as a team, with fewer official distinctions between them.
As the company grew it began to open additional offices in other Michigan cities, in some cases by merging with existing firms. To help new employees, by the early 1970s the company began pairing freshly minted CPAs with a senior-level "buddy," who helped them get acclimated to the job. Moran's focus on treating his staff well also extended to allowing them flexible work schedules, and such policies led to a low turnover rate for the firm compared to the rest of the industry.
In 1977 Plante & Moran formed the Financial Planning Group to offer investment advice to its clients. The year 1981 saw Edward M. Parks elected managing partner of the firm, while Frank Moran moved into the role of board chairman. The following year the firm opened a new office in Ann Arbor, and in 1985 the company merged with a Lansing, Michigan-based accounting firm that had several offices, including one in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.
Program to Retain Women Begun in Mid-1980s
In the early 1980s the firm's partners began to take note of the fact that more women than men were leaving the company each year, either for different jobs or to stay home with their children. Looking to boost the number of female partners, which was then less than 5 percent, and to retain women in general, in 1986 Plante & Moran formed the Parenting Tightrope Action Committee. Its job was to look for ways to help parents juggle the demands of their careers and their families, using Moran's chosen term for such a balancing act in its name.
The busiest time of year for an accountant was the so-called "tax season" from January through April 15, during which the company's staff worked up to 70 hours per week, including nights and weekends. Plante & Moran had for some time bought dinners, hired a full-time "gopher" to run personal errands, and treated the entire staff to a semi-annual retreat at a resort after tax season. To help working mothers, the firm also began offering free day care for children on Saturdays. Another new perk added for working parents was a six-month paid leave for either women or men after the birth or adoption of a child.
In 1988 Plante & Moran became a full associate member of Moores Rowland International, a worldwide association of independent accounting firms. The same year saw a merger with Dieterman, Linden, Maske, Strassburger & Co., which became the company's Grand Rapids, Michigan office.
In July 1993 William L. (Bill) Matthews took over for Edward Parks as managing partner. He had joined Plante & Moran in 1961 as a proofreader, and had held a number of other positions, most recently serving as regional managing partner for the firm's four southeast Michigan offices. The year also saw the company incorporate Plante & Moran Financial Advisors, Inc. as a subsidiary.
At this time Plante & Moran was headquartered in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, and had offices in Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Coldwater, Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Mount Clemens, Traverse City, and Troy, Michigan, as well as in Cleveland, Ohio. With close to 600 employees, it was the largest independent accounting firm in the state, and the 14th largest in the United States. In addition to serving small businesses, law offices, banks, and manufacturing companies, Plante & Moran also performed work for non-profit organizations, local government agencies, and school systems.
In 1994 Plante & Moran absorbed another Michigan accounting firm, McEndarffer, Hoke & Berhnard, and also formed Plante & Moran CRESA LLC. The latter was a real estate consulting agency aligned with the newly formed CRESA, a national alliance of firms that specialized in tenant representation and related services for commercial real estate.
Partners Surpassing 100 in 1994
In the summer of 1994 Plante & Moran added five more partners, for a total of 104. Four of the new partners were women, a confirmation of the success of the company's programs to retain female employees. Eight percent of the firm's partners were now women, well above the industry average of 5 percent, while close to 40 percent of its total staff was female. Two years later the company was named to Working Mothers magazine's list of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in the United States.
In 1996 the firm merged with Gavigan Burkhart Freeman & Co., which employed 30 at offices in Traverse City and Gaylord, Michigan. Plante & Moran now had a staff of more than 750, and annual revenues of almost $70 million.
The year 1996 also saw creation of Plante & Moran Corporate Finance LLC, a new subsidiary which would offer investment banking services, as well as strategic advice for auto industry suppliers. The firm's consultants were now helping companies earn QS-9000 certification (which would soon be made mandatory by several automakers) by assisting with personnel management and the development of procedures to win certification. At this time half of the firm's revenues were derived from auditing and accounting, one-fourth from tax work, and one-fourth from management consulting services.
Our core purpose is to be a caring, professional firm deeply committed to our clients' success.
Core Values: We care. We are guided by the Golden Rule. We strive to be fair. We commit to quality, integrity and professionalism, consistently placing clients' interests ahead of firm interests. We maximize individual opportunities within the context of the team. We are dedicated to preserving and enhancing our spirit.
In April 1997 Frank Moran died of cancer at the age of 78. He had continued to work for the firm as chairman up to the time of his death. In August, Plante & Moran merged with NCOT Accounting and Consulting, Inc. of Toledo, Ohio, which would become known as NCOT Plante & Moran LLP. The 100 employees added in the merger boosted the firm's staff to more than 1,000, and gave it new offices in the Ohio cities of Toledo, Dublin, and Lancaster. All nine of NCOT's shareholders would become partners of the merged firm. NCOT specialized in services to long-term care companies and physician-practice management.
Another new development of 1997 was the launch of the Masters Forum, an executive education program for business owners, directors, and senior managers. The program consisted of multiple sessions held over the course of a year, featuring prominent speakers and experts offering strategic advice.
Addition of Benefits Administration Subsidiary: 1998
In early 1998 the firm created a new unit, Plante & Moran Benefits Administration, LLC, which would offer administration and consulting services for retirement and cafeteria plans. The company also formed a joint venture with four other regional accounting firms called Infinet Resources, which was intended to develop products and services for community banks.
During the year the National Survey of Women in Public Accounting named Plante & Moran number one in the country for the percentage of female partners it had, which now stood at 14 percent. The year 1998 also saw the firm ranked 29th on Fortune magazine's list of the 100 Best Places to Work in America. Along with flexible scheduling and other employee benefits, Fortune praised the Plante & Moran policy which stated that "staff members will not be required to perform work that offends their personal principles." By the end of 1999 the company had nearly 1,200 staff members at 16 offices in Michigan and Ohio. Annual revenues stood at $117 million.
In the spring of 2000 the firm partnered with HMG Health-care Services of Hudson, Ohio, to offer consulting and data systems services to health care providers. The spring also saw Plante & Moran in merger discussions with Olive LLP, a large Indianapolis-based accounting firm, but after several months the idea was abandoned. In June the company acquired the Cleveland office of Clifton Gunderson, which gave it a larger presence in that market. Plante & Moran was now the ninth largest CPA firm in the United States.
In the fall the company added space to its headquarters in Southfield and opened a new office in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, where it consolidated the operations of now-closed offices in Troy and Bloomfield Hills. For 2000, revenues hit $142.7 million, an increase of more than 20 percent over the year before.
In July 2001 a new managing partner took the reins. William M. Herman had worked for Plante & Moran for 30 years, and had been a partner for 20. That same year the company formed an alliance with technology consulting firm Brintech, Inc. to expand its community bank service.
In February 2002 the firm formed a new unit, Plante Moran Trust, to help clients set up and manage trusts. In March the company partnered with Swartz & Associates to form Plante & Moran Swartz Group, which would offer technological consulting to the continuing care industry. The firm had been moving up in Fortune 's annual list of 100 Best Companies to Work for, and was now in the top ten. It was the highest-ranked accounting company.
Enron Collapse Bringing Work: 2002
In the summer of 2002 Plante & Moran was chosen to help unravel the labyrinthine accounting practices that had allegedly helped cause the dramatic collapse of energy giant Enron, which official auditor Arthur Andersen was accused of turning a blind eye toward. The company sent 25 staff members to Houston, Texas, where they would work for many months with Alston & Bird, an Atlanta-based law firm also assigned to the case.
In 2003 the company formed Plante Moran Insurance Agency, which would operate as a unit of its Family Wealth Advisors group, and in January 2004 the firm merged with Gleeson, Sklar, Sawyers and Cumpata (GSS&C), a Chicago-based accounting firm with three offices in Illinois. The move boosted Plante & Moran's employment ranks to over 1,300 and its annual revenues to $191 million. Also in 2004, the company opened a new office in Columbus, Ohio, and combined its Kalamazoo and Battle Creek offices into a single site in Portage, Michigan.
In June 2004 the company merged with AFME, Inc. of Nashville, Tennessee, a manufacturing consulting firm. Plante & Moran also expanded its Global Services unit during the year by opening an office in Shanghai, China, and formed a joint venture with O/E Systems called PMV Technologies LLC. The latter would offer office technology management services.
- Elorion Plante founds accounting firm in Detroit, Michigan.
- Frank Moran is named partner; firm becomes known as Plante & Moran.
- Moran becomes managing partner.
- Consulting work grows to account for one-third of revenues.
- Financial Planning Group is founded.
- Edward Parks is chosen as managing partner; Moran is named chairman.
- Merger with Lansing, Michigan firm adds offices there and in Cleveland, Ohio.
- William Matthews becomes managing partner.
- Plante & Moran CRESA LLC is founded.
- Plante & Moran Corporate Finance LLC is founded.
- Frank Moran dies; merger occurs with NCOT Accounting and Consulting of Ohio.
- Plante & Moran Benefits Administration LLC is founded.
- William Herman takes role of managing partner.
- Firm is chosen to help investigate Enron collapse; Plante Moran Trust is created.
- Merger with GSS&C gives firm three Illinois offices; firms merges with AFME, Inc.
In the spring of 2005 Plante & Moran merged with BKR Dupuis & Ryden of Flint, Michigan, which operated offices in that city and in Ann Arbor. The staff of the latter would be transferred to Plante & Moran's existing office there. In May 2005 the company expanded its presence in Chicago by acquiring Wetmore & Associates, a four-person firm with revenues of $700,000 that specialized in employee benefit plan audits.
More than 80 years after its founding, Plante & Moran had become the largest accounting firm in Michigan, and one of the ten largest in the United States. Frank Moran's guiding principles of fairness and high ethical standards toward both clients and employees had set the firm on a course that gave it a firm grounding for continued success.
Plante & Moran Financial Advisors, Inc.; Plante & Moran Benefits Administration, LLC; Plante & Moran Corporate Finance LLC; Plante & Moran CRESA, LLC; Plante & Moran Global Services; NCOT Plante & Moran LLC; Plante Moran Trust; Plante Moran Insurance Agency; Financial Institutions Group; Family Wealth Advisors.
Crowe Chizek & Company LLC; Clifton Gunderson LLP; UHY Advisors, Inc.; Deloitte & Touche LLP; Ernst & Young LLP; PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP; KPMG LLP.
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