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89: EO Professional Spotlight - Growing Your Practice

We turn our EO Spotlight to ESOP professional and podcast contributor Jennifer Krieger of Weaver CPA; Rob Snowden of South Park Advisors shares how appearing on our podcast led to a client engagement; and we invite advisors and employee owners to meet The KEISOP Group in Las Vegas.

Are you going to be in Las Vegas in November, 2019 for a national ESOP conference?

  • We want to listen and learn: The KEISOP Group invites a dozen rank-and-file employee owners to join us for dinner and discussion on Wednesday, November 13th at 7:00 PM. You can RSVP online here.

  • We want to grow the sandbox: There will be an open lunch for a dozen emerging advisers on Friday, November 15th at 12:30 PM. We’ll discuss how to grow your ESOP practice, including how The KEISOP Group can help. You can RSVP online here.

  • We want to amplify your impact: From November 11th – 16th, 2019 we’ll have a suite at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas where we’ll be recording episodes of the podcast and the Professional Spotlight series. Reach out via email or social to reserve a time slot.


Episode 89 Transcript

Bitsy McCann: 00:00 Are you a passionate employee, owner or advocate? What do you like to share your passion on The EO podcast and ESOP Mini-cast? We're looking for correspondents to help us tell the great stories of employee owners and their companies. We're looking for one to four minute long segments that can be recorded remotely over the internet or telephone. If you're interested, drop us a line. You'll hear contact information at the end of the episode.

Bitsy McCann: 00:27 Welcome to The EO podcast where we amplify and celebrate all forms of employee ownership.

Bret Keisling: 00:36 Hello my friends. Thank you for listening. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. In today's episode, we continue our professional spotlight series that we began last week. We turn our spotlight on ESOP podcast contributor, Jennifer Krieger of Weaver CPAs in Texas. We'll have more of an in-depth profile of Jenn, in her own words, of what she and Weaver are doing in the employee ownership sandbox and why. We'll also hear from Rob Snowden of South Park Advisors. Rob was on a previous episode of the podcast [Episode 75] and as he'll tell you, that made the difference in South Park Advisors being selected during a competitive process, but first:

Bret Keisling: 01:23 Are you going to be in Las Vegas in November, 2019 for a national ESOP conference? I'm going to be there from November 11th through November 16th and I'd love to meet with you. There are a couple of events I'm very excited to announce today. On Wednesday, November 13th at 7:00 PM I'm hosting a dinner for employee owners and he KEISOP Group and I'd like you to join me. I have spaces for 12 employee owners to join us for dinner. It will be completely at The KEISOP Group expense and I'm looking for employee owners that aren't in the C suite, quite frankly, not CEOs, not CFOs, but rather rank and file members of the team. I'd like to sit down at dinner and to be honest with you, I want to listen. I want to hear about what's important to you in employee ownership. I want to hear what you think the employee ownership community can do better and I want to answer any questions that you might have for me. If you're interested in joining me, simply either send me an email, you'll hear contact information at the end of this episode, or on October 30th we'll have an online registration available that you'll find on our webiste [for the luncheon here and for the dinner here] and on social media.

Bret Keisling: 02:34 The second event is directed towards what we've been calling emerging advisers on the podcast for the last month or so. I've been working with a number of folks to come up with ideas for emerging advisers to try and gain traction in their practice. Regular listeners will know my interest in the emerging advisers is to meet with folks who have a sincere interest in employee ownership, have been working to develop their practice for a bit, haven't really gained traction, and there are a number of you who work for excellent firms, valuation firms, CPA firms, law firms that are really successful firms in other areas, but just haven't developed traction in the ESOP area. So I'd like to meet again with one dozen emerging advisers and talk about ways that you might be able to improve your practice area and ways that The KEISOP Group and The ESOP/EO Podcast might be able to help you. The emerging advisers event is scheduled for Friday, November 15th at 12:30 Las Vegas time. We'll spend about an hour together and in this event, unlike The KEISOP Group taking employee owners to dinner, at this lunch, the emerging advisers, we're going to ask you to pay for your own meal, but we'll sit down, we'll talk, we'll help you any way at all we can. Our goal is to help you build your practice area. We figure it's worth it to you to pay for the cost of a lunch, no fee to attend, no fee to The KEISOP Group, buy your own lunch. Let's talk about how to build your practice.

Bret Keisling: 03:40 Besides meeting in Las Vegas, you have the opportunity to grow your practice via this very podcast. The number one most listened-to episode that we've ever done is the ESOP 101 episode [Episode 77], had about a thousand listens, featuring my former partner at Cap Trustees, Rich Heeter, Tabitha Croscut of Devine Millimet, and Rob Hilton, who's a partner in South Park Advisors, a great valuation firm. We also had Rob Snowden, Rob Hilton's partner at South Park, record an episode in the spring of 2019 and here's Rob talking about the success he's had as a result of the podcast.

Rob Snowden: 04:56 Hi, I'm Rob Snowden of South Park Advisors and I recently appeared on The ESOP podcast; it was Episode 75. And we found The ESOP podcast to be of great value to our potential clients. What we like to do is post these webcasts on our websites so that if a client wants to understand more about us and how we conduct business, that they can actually go and listen to them and we found them to be very useful tools. And just recently we found that one of our clients said, "Oh, by the way, you aren't the lowest cost provider, but we really enjoyed hearing you on The ESOP Podcast" and between that media and the referral source, we ended up landing the opportunity.

Bret Keisling: 05:43 The reason I wanted to share Rob's thoughts with you is simply this: Occasionally we'll ask advisers, or often we'll ask professional advisers, to appear on the podcast and they say something like, "What business will we get out of it? What revenue will we get out of it?" And my response, frankly, is I'm here to educate about employee ownership and if you're looking for exact results, it's only a broader part of what you're doing. So what I like about what South Park Advisors does, and I suggest all of our guests do that, they link it to their own website. Appearing on our podcasts did not increase Rob Snowden's expertise at all, but there was a perceived increase from his client that Rob had the national presence. And by the way, as partner, Rob Hilton has been on several of our podcasts including the very popular ESOP 101. So we would love to have as many advisers on as possible to do spotlights. Our goal for the coming year with our many podcasts over The EO Podcast network is more guests, less Bret! And if you're wondering why you should, you're going to educate employee ownership, you're going to help grow the employee ownership sandbox, and as South Park Advisors found, you may win a contract or two based on your appearance.

Bret Keisling: 06:47 I've always been very proud that The ESOP Podcast does not pick sides. We're neutral as it relates to organizations, professional advisers; anybody who wants to help grow the employee ownership sandbox, we want to help them as well. We've devoted a lot of time over the last few years to helping emerging advisers. The reason behind that is very simple. I believe the growth of employee ownership is stagnant, as the stats show, we had about 6,500 companies in 1996 we have about 6,500 companies in 2019 and part of it is we don't have enough qualified advisers who are eager to grow the sandbox and who have found a way to break through the challenges of opening an ESOP practice or thriving in an ESOP practice. So to prove the point, we're going to go from Rob Snowden, a talented valuation adviser to our professional spotlight on Jennifer Krieger, a talented valuation adviser, and if there are talented valuation advisers listening to this, we'd like to spotlight you as well.

Bret Keisling: 07:59 Same thing with culture and communications and leadership people; Dr. Kevin Sensenig of IDG [Interaction Dynamics Group] was on just last week, he'll become a regular contributor. There is way too much opportunity in employee ownership to have people worry about protecting their own place in the sandbox. Help us amplify and celebrate employee ownership and share your stories with our listeners. It will benefit the listeners. It'll benefit your practice. With that, I'm very excited to present you with this second of our professional spotlights on our friend Jenn Krieger. She has come on the podcast to give updates on NCEO [on Mini-cast Episode 53]. She has spoken about growing the employee ownership sandbox in Texas and I'm delighted to provide this more fuller spotlight of Jenn and we certainly look forward to having her back on many times as a contributor in the future.

Jenn Krieger: 08:57 This is Jennifer Krieger, a senior manager at Weaver, a public accounting firm and I'm located in Houston, Texas.

Bret Keisling: 09:04 Jenn, how are you today?

Jenn Krieger: 09:05 I'm doing great. How are you Bret?

Bret Keisling: 09:08 Excellent, thank you for calling in. Hey, you were on Episode 53 of the Mini-cast and you did a great update from the NCEO conference. And in that Mini-cast I was talking about Texas and just my perception that it was underrepresented in the ESOP and employee ownership community and it turns out you have some data about Texas, and that sort of thing. Am I right?

Jenn Krieger: 09:34 Yes. And that's part of the whole reason I'm interested in ESOPs, is spreading the word to Texas and making sure that that's represented on the discussion table when succession planning is being talked about. 6% or so of ESOPs are represented in Texas, but that compares to 9% of the total us population. And so, simply there, ESOPs are underrepresented as a per capita in Texas. And part of that plan is to begin to change that tide and begin to grow employee ownership in Texas.

Bret Keisling: 10:12 And what drives your passion for employee ownership, and you were on and we've talked about it a little bit, but you've really, as I've said, drank the Kool-aid about employee ownership. What is it that is driving your motivation? It's a great business model, but it seems like it's a little more than that to you.

Jenn Krieger: 10:28 It definitely is. It's all about caring for the employees and ensuring their financial wellbeing. There's tons of benefits to ESOPs for the employees. It ensures that we reward employees for their hard work and their success and we're able to help bridge the gap financially in retirement. I know there's some stats out there in regards to ESOPs being a key component of people's retirement plans and making sure that they have a plan for the future for their financial wellbeing, so that when they get to the age where they can no longer work, or what have you, they have something to fall back on and they have something that's a nest egg for them later in their career. Additionally, it's helping to solve social issues in our time.

Bret Keisling: 11:17 Jenn, obviously a lot of professionals get into ESOP related services because it is a viable revenue stream and it's a good model and Weaver has the talents, or you should be in it, but it also seems to be a little more important to you in different ways. Could you explain?

Jenn Krieger: 11:34 Sure, Bret. ESOP really reward employees for their success and their hard work and oftentimes increases their benefit levels so that they have quite a bit more savings by the time they actually reach retirement age and that really closes the gap for retirement and keeping them from having to continue to work longer into their later years or having to go to family or other assistance types to find ways to bridge the gap financially later in life, especially when they might not be able to do so anymore. There's also, there's been studies that show that ESOP's are indiscriminatory based upon gender, and so ultimately it closes a gender pay gap as well. So ESOP really address some social issues as well and that really brings in a lot of benefits for the employees. Further, I'd like to also give a little plug to my hubby, he has always had a heart for his community and pursue affordable housing and together we really want to address the needs of our community and those that surround us and he does that through his business and I'd like to do my part as well and help address issues that I see my community, financial related ones, that I can help make a difference on.

Bret Keisling: 13:02 Jenn, I had the pleasure a couple of weeks ago of being on the phone with both you and your husband, Sean Krieger. One of the things that impresses me as a passionate advocate for employee ownership is that you and Sean, as a couple, really are living your ideals. Sean, through his business where he has really developed innovative things in low income housing and I've asked if he can come on and chat about that at some point, but also your work in employee ownership, so it seems with the both of you, you're solid business professionals, but you've worked in what's important to you personally in your professional endeavors. And that seems to be a pretty cool place to be in.

Jenn Krieger: 13:39 That's so true, Bret, and that's one of the areas that I've talked about pretty extensively in emerging professionals and young professionals who want to contribute to their local community.

Bret Keisling: 13:50 Oftentimes when there are CPA firms, like yourself, and looking to really increase their presence in ESOPs or employee ownership that it's doing the valuation work for the trustees. And I know you're working on that, but Weaver happens to be one of those firms -- you folks have a pretty healthy client base of ESOPs that are part of your audit practice. Am I right?

Jenn Krieger: 14:16 That's correct, Bret. So we have extensive audit practice here at Weaver. For your listeners, Weaver's traditionally been a Texas firm but we have, as I like to describe it, national aspirations. And so we're actually in the LA area, two offices out there, and an office in New York too. But our audit practice has had a fairly healthy ESOP presence as well, especially in the Texas region.

Bret Keisling: 14:42 So Jenn, what are you and your colleagues at Weaver looking to do moving forward?

Jenn Krieger: 14:46 We're looking to educate our non-ESOP related team members about the benefits of ESOP so that when they go and have client discussions, perhaps over the tax busy season or audit busy season, that they are well educated on the benefits of ESOPs, the pros, the cons and they're able to bring ESOP as an option on the succession planning tool side. And then from there we're looking into expand and have webinars throughout the year to educate our clients and bring them into a discussion on ESOPs and generate more awareness about ESOPs.

Bret Keisling: 15:31 What tools do you think, and obviously you are attending a lot of the conferences, you gave an update on the mini- cast from NCEO. I saw you tweet a picture from one of the ESOP Association, I guess the Great Lakes conference. I expect you're going to be in Vegas. So you're on the conference circuit, but it also sounds like you're spending a lot of time recognizing that a lot of your potential lies outside of those coming in to the conferences currently. Like are you looking to just maintain those who are already, I say 'in the sandbox' or are you looking to find the, you know, the many, many companies that might not yet be at the conferences, but will go once you encourage them.

Jenn Krieger: 16:11 We're really looking to expand in Texas and to grow, as you like to say it, the employee ownership sandbox here in Texas and bring in new employee ownership plans and generate excitement around being able to reward employees for their hard work. So ultimately I've been going to conferences to create contacts and create awareness that we're trying to build the Texas brand and collaborate with other like-minded ESOP professionals who can contribute to the cause in Texas and help collaborate and growing the sandbox.

Bret Keisling: 16:52 That was our friend Jenn Krieger of Weaver as one of our new contributors to the podcast, you'll be hearing more from her. I really appreciate the time she's devoted, not just growing employee ownership but to sharing her and Weaver's story with the podcast listeners. With that, folks, we're going to conclude today's episode. If you're going to be in Las Vegas for that national conference, I'd love to meet with you. If you're a professional adviser, we'd love to spotlight you on the podcast and we'd like everybody to know in employee ownership and in ESOP world that we are more than happy to amplify and celebrate anybody who will help us do that. With that, here's Bitsy with how to contact us. Thank you so much for joining us.

Bret Keisling: 17:38 The views expressed here are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field. And the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement. But if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

Bitsy McCann: 18:03 We'd love to hear from you! To contact us, find us on Facebook at KEISOP, LLC and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. To reach Bret, with one "T", email, on LinkedIn at Bret Keisling, and most actively on Twitter at @EO_Bret. Again, that's one "T". This podcast has been produced by The KEISOP Group, technical assistance provided by Third Circle, Inc. and BitsyPlus Design. Original music composed by Max Keisling, archival podcast material edited and produced by Brian Keisling, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Bret Keisling: 18:35 My name's Bret Keisling. Thanks for listening.


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