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Sponsored by: Whittlesey
March 1, 2022

Doing the right thing brings its own rewards in business

Doing the right thing is in the DNA of Whittlesey. This mentality has pushed the largest Connecticut-based CPA firm to give back to the community in numerous ways, without a calculation of how it will benefit the company.

Doing the right things has its own benefits, said Drew Andrews, managing partner at Whittlesey.

Over the years, it has paid dividends for the firm. “It has been a byproduct of what we believe. It’s not why we do it, but it has been beneficial,” said Andrews. “It’s the right thing to do and we set that tone at the top and bring it down.”

At the core of the firm’s “do the right thing” mentality is service to the community.

This effort has manifested itself with official volunteer days, donations to local nonprofits and an understanding that if an opportunity to give back is possible it will be acted on.

It has also spread throughout the firm’s services. As the firm has grown, so have the ways that it can assist and contribute to community businesses and nonprofit organizations.

While accounting remains the core of the business, Andrews said, Whittlesey approaches its clients holistically. In providing additional services, such as technology and business  advisory services, Whittlesey uses regional talent to help serve the client as a whole.

The firm’s technology offerings have been in place since the mid 90’s, when it was mostly banks worrying about cyber security. That depth of experience has allowed the firm to support local companies as they face the increasing threat of cyber attacks, said Mark Torello, the Partner-in-Charge of Technology.

While Whittlesey is happy to provide IT and cyber security services including recovery from cyber attacks, the firm would rather spend its time on prevention and helping clients strengthen their defenses so they can prevent damaging attacks. They want every company to be as secure as possible. This has led the firm to do plenty of outreach about how organizations can help safeguard themselves.

“We donate and devote an awful lot of time on panels for cyber security and IT best practices," said Torello. "We do not want to see the current upward trend of breaches continue, with good businesses, governments, and nonprofit organizations suffering the consequences. We will educate as much as people will listen to us."

Whittlesey’s business advisory practice serves the community by helping local businesses thrive. Whether that involves optimizing growth or figuring out a succession plan, complex situations can be worked through to the benefit of local companies and the community.

“What we really do is we help create jobs, we help protect jobs and we help ensure companies are going to continue into the future as successful entities,” said Brian Kerrigan, advisory lead partner. “And as the company grows, it has more resources to be able to help the community.”

Stronger local companies embedded in the community are more likely to play a positive role where they are located, he said, benefiting the entire state.

Giving back to the community comes full circle for the firm with its nonprofit services. The firm serves over 350 nonprofits, primarily through audits required by their status, but also through other consulting services such as ensuring compliance. Kimberly Napp, an assurance partner specializing in nonprofits, believes that it is a true manifestation of the firm’s community support.

“We are doing the audit but we are helping them to follow and achieve their mission. We are giving back. The community may not see our efforts, but we see it,” said Napp.

This is in addition to activities throughout the year to volunteer with nonprofits and directly help out in the community.

But despite Whittlesey’s “do the right thing” tenet permeating its various business offerings, that doesn’t mean it continues without reinforcement.

When Andrews joined Whittlesey in 1984, it was easy for this mentality to spread throughout the roughly 20-person firm. But as the firm grew, now at over 160 employees throughout three locations and two states, it has become necessary to build this perspective into the core culture of the firm; formalizing it.

An annual volunteer day ensures that giving back to the community is valued, while reinforcement of doing the right things happens from the top down and is passed on to new employees.

But despite the need to take a more formal approach, Andrews said the core of the issue remains remarkably straight forward.

“It’s a simple recipe for success. I think sometimes people make it too complicated,” said Andrews. “It’s simple messaging: If you do the right things and treat people right, good things will happen.”

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Hartford, CT 06103
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