IPA Vendor Spotlight: Executive Staffing Group

Company: Executive Staffing Group
Name: John McSpadden
Title: Managing Partner and Founder


Q&A with John McSpadden: The Man Pioneering Talent Solutions in Public Accounting

With over 35 years of collective experience at Executive Staffing Group (ESG), what has your firm accomplished in the CPA recruitment space?

ESG stands out in the industry for our expertise in placing partners and leaders within public accounting firms nationally and even globally. Over the years, we’ve successfully placed more than 350 partners and 300 support professionals, translating to over $1 billion in revenue creation for our clients.

Beyond executive search, what other services has ESG expanded into?

Our goal is to be the No. 1 executive search firm for accounting firms; however, in recognizing our clients’ evolving needs, we’ve broadened our services to include mid-level search as well as both U.S. and off-shore/near-shore staffing solutions. This comprehensive approach aids our clients in hiring and achieving their growth ambitions through strategic talent acquisition.

With such a broad clientele, what kind of growth have you seen among the firms you work with?

Our client firms vary from local, regional, national and international. We’ve assisted dozens of firms in enhancing and expanding their service offerings and geographic footprint and effectively complementing their growth strategies.

What significant changes are you observing in CPA firms’ professional services?

The industry is grappling with high churn rates and a significant deficit in incoming talent due to fewer graduates entering public accounting and a wave of retirements. Firms are adapting by increasing compensation, seeking talent overseas, and investing in technology to streamline processes and develop new service lines.

What are the challenges associated with these trends?

Despite ever-changing market conditions, the constant challenge is the talent gap, exacerbated by high churn rates and a competitive landscape. Additionally, the logistics of integrating overseas talent and the complexities of technology investments present ongoing hurdles.

ESG has launched 10x Advisory. Can you tell us more about that and how it addresses some of these challenges?

Absolutely – 10x Advisory is our response to the market’s demands. We recruit experienced U.S. talent to train our overseas teams in managing U.S. engagements effectively across multiple advisory services. This strategy ensures quality control and allows our clients to focus on growth, knowing they have competent, well-trained professionals handling their engagements.

With private equity increasingly stepping into the CPA firm landscape, what impact do you see this having on the profession?

The foray of private equity into CPA firms is a game-changer. Traditionally, expansion was self-funded, which could be inconsistent and risky. With private equity, firms can pursue growth without directly impacting partner income. This influx of outside capital means firms can undertake more ambitious growth strategies and manage risk more effectively. It’s a significant shift that allows firms to innovate and expand with the financial backing necessary to compete at higher levels. The flip side of that coin is that this is new to the profession and nobody really knows how successful private equity will be. You’re taking partnerships that in some cases are in their second or third generation and handing over majority ownership. Plus, to realize on the equity, an exit event must occur with a multiple that the profession hasn’t seen before.

On another note, ESG prides itself on employing industry experts. Can you elaborate on the importance of this for your clients?

Our team is comprised of individuals who have a minimum of seven to 10 years of experience partnering with CPA and professional services firms. This depth of expertise is critical. Our clients don’t just need recruiters; they need seasoned experts who understand the intricacies of the market and can represent them effectively. This expertise allows us to sell the opportunity and strategically position our clients against competitors vying for the same talent pool. We handle the entire process, from business development to recruitment execution, ensuring consistency and effectiveness.

How does this approach set ESG apart from other search firms in the industry?

Most search firms might engage industry experts to bring in the business but then pass the actual search and recruitment process to less experienced junior recruiters. This can lead to a disconnect in understanding the market and the needs of both clients and candidates. At ESG, the same experts who understand clients’ needs are the ones who go into the market and advocate for them. This hands-on approach by seasoned professionals ensures a higher level of service and success in securing the right talent.

How does 10x Advisory deal with time-zone challenges often faced with off-shore solutions?

We strategically positioned our talent pool in time zones that align with our clients’ needs, from Latin America to South Africa to India. This ensures around-the-clock services without the communication and training challenges of significant time differences.

With technology becoming increasingly vital, yet expensive, how should CPA firms approach this?

Firms need to view technology as an integral part of their growth strategy. The investment should match the firm’s scale and service offerings. It’s all about finding that sweet spot between current needs and anticipated growth, ensuring technology enhances, rather than hinders, expansion.

What advice would you give to CPA firms navigating today’s challenging landscape?

Firms must be flexible and innovative in their talent management and technology integration approach. They should seek partners like ESG, which can provide the expertise and resources needed to adapt to these changes. It’s about creating a sustainable model for growth that aligns with the firm’s long-term vision.

Learn more about Executive Staffing Group

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