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A Look Back and a Leap Forward: Ian Grimbleby on the Year Ahead

By Ian Grimbleby, CPA

January 17, 2023

The past few years have brought many epic changes to our country and our firm — and yet, as I look forward to 2023, I can honestly say Grimbleby Coleman has grown and thrived through each one.

When I reflect on 2022, this old Thomas Jefferson quote comes to mind: “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” We worked hard. We worked smarter. And, hopefully, our clients reaped the benefits.

As the calendar flips, we’re ready to embark on another exciting year of work — and celebration! Grimbleby Coleman will mark its 50th birthday in 2023, and we have a few surprises in our back pocket to mark the occasion. I want to share what we’ve learned throughout this busy year and how we plan to help our clients make the most of the 12 months to come.

2022 Was a Time of Transition

We kicked off 2022 with a considerable shift; because of our focus on successful transition, most folks likely didn’t notice. My father, Clive Grimbleby, stepped down as Managing Partner/President/CEO and passed the reins to me after decades of building our firm.

I still work directly with clients, but as Managing Partner, my role also includes more actively serving the firm so it can build on its legacy of excellent service, ingenious solutions, and forward-thinking advice.

Many of our clients have heard us promote the importance of succession planning, and we genuinely practiced what we preached during this transition. Now, when we offer succession planning advice and services, we can include our own experience and the lessons we’ve learned along the way.

In addition to the leadership transition, we acclimated new team members and clients into our office, culture, and systems through our merger with Ristau and Co. We worked throughout 2022 to provide the right information, training, and resources to continue their care for clients while partnering with a new team. We are happy to look back with appreciation at how far we have come.

Service Is Our Top Priority

Grimbleby Coleman has grown strategically over the past several years — not because we prioritize consistent growth, but because we value consistently better service. Our growth is motivated by wanting to do the best for our clients while doing what is best for our staff.

As some of the people who built Grimbleby Coleman are planning their departure over the next few years, we have added talented new employees who value a commitment to clients. We call this commitment the “advisor mindset.” We deliberately began focusing on this deep method of service years ago, and our work has paid off in expected and unexpected ways. We are appreciative of the confidence our current clients and business partners have in us and our service; most of our new business comes through referrals, unusual for a firm of our size. I feel so much pride when I go to a community event and meet people who ask us on the spot to assist with their accounting work.

Client feedback is our ultimate yardstick for success. It doesn’t matter how much we grow; if our clients aren’t happy, we never want to expand at the expense of client satisfaction. Our definition of success might be different, but it works.

Creating a Culture of Commitment

Strengthening our firm through service requires active participation from our employees. It’s a choice. The author of “The Ideal Team Player,” and one of my favorite writers Patrick Lencioni, describes the type of person we want — someone who is humble, hungry, and smart.

Humility is a huge asset to our culture. We’re not interested in hiring people who lack care for others. Our job is to provide the best solutions for our clients, and that often means letting go of personal hang-ups so we can develop something great while focusing on and partnering with the client.

Team players are encouraged to ask for help when they don’t have an answer. They’re hungry enough to find solutions. And they’re smart enough, with the right emotional intelligence, to get the job done. This is how we do our best for our clients — listening and learning is how we grow.

Occasionally new employees mention that they felt the need to have all the answers in their previous jobs. At Grimbleby Coleman, everyone has the freedom to seek help rather than fake their way forward. The relief they express when they join our team means a lot to me. I’m happy to say that we have many experts in this company who have developed much of their knowledge by this very process. I hope we foster that part of the culture for many years to come.

Growing with Clients

We tell new hires we want them to build their long-term careers with our firm. We want the same long-term relationships with our clients, too. We focus on partnerships rather than just irregular meetings regarding a tax return or a financial statement.

To accomplish this, ongoing communication has been key. Our clients should feel comfortable enough to call us whenever they have a question or problem — or even just to check in and say hi. The information we glean from casual conversations has opened many doors of possibility for the businesses we serve – such is the benefit of working with a team of holistic thinkers.

We have the bandwidth, the expertise, and the energy to build truly meaningful relationships. In 2023, we will continue our commitment to deepening these partnerships and fostering new ones.

What’s Ahead in the New Year?

It feels like we’ve spent 2022 listening to dire predictions about 2023. Will there be a recession? Will we continue to experience elevated levels of inflation? Will Covid repercussions further impact the economy? Yet, I hear hope rather than fear when I speak with clients. Many are looking ahead to the next five years rather than becoming paralyzed, which makes me very excited about the future.

So much of the world is beyond our control, which is why I see many progressive clients looking to establish teams of advisors who can help them react to rapid changes. They are investing in great people, top technology, and even new businesses, equipment, or software. It seems as if entrepreneurs aren’t just white-knuckling their way through the future the way they did during the height of the pandemic. They’re looking to build something strong and lasting, which is a great sign. We’re doing the same to stay in step with our clients.

This year marks a golden milestone for GC — our 50th anniversary! We’re using this occasion to invest in our own future. A number of our long-time team members are using this significant year to kick off their retirements, but they are delivering a sturdy foundation that we know we can build upon as we plan for many more years in business.

We’re also excited to unveil a fresh look for the firm that reflects both our heritage and our outlook for the years to come. We can’t wait to share what we’ve been working on throughout 2022.

Cheers to 2023 and to much success for all in the new year!

Ian Grimbleby,

Managing Partner/President/CEO