This broad collection of client services has enabled Sikich LLP, which has a history stretching more than 80 years, to grow to a staff of approximately 375 members and 57 partners, located in nearly a dozen offices around Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis. It is listed as the 50th largest accounting firm in the United States. The firm scored a 389 on the CPA Practice Advisor’s Productivity Survey, a free web-based tool that helps firms assess their workflow and technology usage, and provides benchmarking against similarly sized practices (www.CPAPracticeAdvisor.com/productivity-survey). This score is impressive for a firm the size of Sikich, since large practices can easily become entrenched in legacy systems and practices.
With these various services, a young CPA who passed all four parts of the exam on his first try might be tempted to diversify his own experience, at least for resume-building purposes … but not Tim.
“I love audit engagements; they’re logical and structured and concrete, but not without their share of curveballs. While there are some changes to FASB, GASB and GAAP, they aren’t nearly as volatile as tax law, which I think is dry and aggravating.” Since his focus is on local government audits, his primary “busy season” is a little longer and less severe than that of professionals who focus on tax compliance or auditing for-profit entities. He estimates that he works about 55 to 60 hours per week during the summer months, then closer to 45 to 50 per week during the rest of the year.
As for his resume, he doesn’t anticipate needing one again, since he says he hopes to stay with Sikich for his entire career. “I’ve worked with the same partners for years, and feel that they are helping guide me toward a partnership role. I can’t think of anything that would be more fulfilling.” Tim has already started leading some technology training sessions, and is a contributor to the firm’s blog (http://blog.sikichtechnology.com).
Tim’s respect for Sikich isn’t just grandstanding or kissing up to his bosses. Although it’s the only practice he’s worked for, he has heard about the dynamic at other firms from some of his peers and has come to appreciate the collaborative and creative environment in which he works. “Sikich fosters creativity and attracts it. That’s why I was drawn here, and that’s why a lot of other young professionals are, too.”
In some ways, Tim says that the office might even resemble a dot-com era environment, albeit one run by fiscally responsible CPAs. He said it has an open atmosphere and work-casual dress code that allows jeans and polo shirts when clients aren’t visiting, and a tie is rarely in sight even when clients are. The office also offers rooms for playing games, working out or relaxing.
Prior to Sikich, Tim worked at Brookdale Music (www.BrookdaleMusic.com), a retail musical instrument store in his hometown of Naperville, Illinois, while he was in high school and while attending North Central College for his BS in accounting. And actually, he was initially considering a career in sound engineering. He later received an MBA from Northern Illinois University. At Brookdale, which is coincidentally owned by a CPA, Tim managed the inventory and also did some graphic design work and web development.
Tim and his wife Erin, who will be celebrating their ninth anniversary in November, live in Naperville, with their daughters Alayna and Alice. They spend their free time doing “normal family and household stuff.” But when they can get away, they enjoy Eagle Ridge Resort and playing tourists in Galena, an Illinois vacation spot on the Mississippi River famous for its antiques stores, golfing and lakes.
The family is active with their church, Bethany Lutheran (www.bethanylcs.org) in Naperville, where Tim is a part of a capital fundraising campaign. Erin is a volunteer with Literacy DuPage, an adult literacy program. Tim, being a Chicago-area native, is a life-long fan of the Cubs, Bears and Bulls, of course.