Citrin Cooperman Ramps up National Expansion to Support Client Growth
New York City-based Citrin Cooperman joined forces with private equity firm New Mountain Capital late last year, helping to further cement their mission to be the go-to professional services firm of choice.
Through this collaboration, the firm is rapidly expanding its national footprint and solidifying its position as one of the largest professional services firms in the U.S. Founded in 1979, the full-service advisory, tax and assurance firm now has a strong and growing presence coast-to-coast with nearly 20 offices, more than 200 partners and 1,500+ employees.
“We have an amazing, entrepreneurial team, and we really understand the real estate market and where it’s going,” says Mark M. Mindick, a partner and leader of Citrin Cooperman’s real estate group. Citrin Cooperman represents both private and public sector clients, including owners, developers and service providers across the full capital stack, including first mortgage, mezzanine debt, preferred equity and equity. “Working with so many of these companies helps us be acclimated to what’s going on in the industry from many different perspectives,” he says.
The recent joining of two Miami-based Florida firms, Bloom, Gettis & Habib, P.A., a general, full-service audit, tax, and consulting firm, and Appelrouth, Farah & Co. P.A., a full-service accounting and international business advisory firm in Coral Gables, give Citrin Cooperman a significant foothold in the rapidly growing South Florida market. “One of the reasons why we aligned very well is that our practice is very much like Citrin Cooperman in that real estate is the number one industry practice,” says Joshua Rader, formerly the managing partner at Appelrouth, Farah & Co. and now managing partner of Citrin Cooperman’s South Florida office. “Citrin Cooperman also brings depth of experience across all aspects of the real estate practice area that will really enhance who it is that we’re able to provide services to in our South Florida market,” adds Rader.
For example, Rader has worked with a number of small real estate fund clients who have grown up over the last few years and are transitioning from historical cost reporting that is more applicable to a small fund with 25-40 LPs. Those fund managers are now seeing bigger investors coming into the fund, such as family offices, pension funds and other institutions, and fund managers need to respond to expectations to provide share value reporting. “Being part of Citrin Cooperman, we’re now able to bring resources to our clients that perhaps a 50-person accounting firm would not have been able to provide,” says Rader.
Helping clients navigate choppy waters
Tax and compliance work represent Citrin Cooperman’s core business, while the firm also has a growing consulting and advisory business that covers a variety of areas ranging from insurance and software to due diligence and business process outsourcing. The firm also has built specific industry groups to better service clients, including multifamily, office, retail, hospitality, tax credits and low-income housing. “Obviously, there are different cycles within real estate with good times and turbulent times, and we navigate those cycles while assisting clients to make the best decisions to grow their company, pivot or diversify,” says Mindick.
Real estate companies are leaning into those advisory services now more than ever given some of the current headwinds that include rising interest rates, inflation, higher building costs and lingering effects of the pandemic. “It is very much a mixed bag out there, and we do a good job of helping clients with their needs, whether it is to stay within their safe harbor and take advantage of opportunities, tapping into new capital sources, or figuring out how to take some chips off the table and still grow their companies,” says Mindick.
Even before the pandemic, firms were stepping into new geographic markets in search of investment and development opportunities, with much of that attention focused on Sun Belt states. For example, investment capital is following the strong migration of people and jobs into the Florida market, and prospective clients are looking for a firm that has a local presence, knows the landscape and marketplace and has a network of other professionals, notes Rader. People want to work with a firm that has the ability to connect a lot of the different pieces of the puzzle, he says.
Providing proactive solutions
Citrin Cooperman has its fingers on the pulse on a variety of different issues impacting real estate companies, their business models and day-to-day operations, including proptech and staffing. Although real estate has typically lagged other sectors in embracing technology, real estate companies are now sifting through a deluge of innovative technology solutions, and Citrin Cooperman helps clients identify proptech solutions and more efficient processes.
Citrin Cooperman also can asset clients directly through its different business units, including its business process outsourcing (BPO) and business transformation departments. Companies that are frustrated with the challenges of attracting and retaining their own accounting staff are turning to Citrin Cooperman’s BPO unit to outsource accounting services, notes Gary Zhang, a partner in Citrin Cooperman’s Woodland Hills, Calif. office. “One of the added advantages of business process outsourcing is that it really helps to build a strong bond with the client, and it gives us greater insight into their business because we see their books and accounts on a daily basis,” he says.
Oftentimes, clients will come to Citrin Cooperman after a deal has occurred and ask for assistance. That stronger relationship puts Citrin Cooperman in a position to be proactive and advise clients on a best-course strategy before those transactions take place, such as using a more tax-efficient structure. “Previously, clients would come to us and ask us to ‘fix’ problems that already happened. Now we can actually prevent those problems,” says Zhang. It’s important to work with a CPA who can ask the risky questions and know how to provide proper planning to avoid potential problems. “Given our experience in real estate, we know exactly where the pitfalls are and exactly how to avoid them, but the key is to have good communication with the client to prevent these problems before they happen,” he says.
Citrin Cooperman has more growth ahead, and the firm is taking its own advice when it comes to weighing expansion opportunities carefully and avoiding potential pitfalls. “We are focused on growing in a very healthy fashion and we’re very focused on the people we bring in, their culture and how that culture is going to be nurtured within our organization,” says Mindick. “The future is looking very bright, and we are structured really well with amazing people who will help propel our business forward.”
“Citrin Cooperman” is the brand under which Citrin Cooperman & Company, LLP, a licensed independent CPA firm, and Citrin Cooperman Advisors LLC serve clients’ business needs. Citrin Cooperman & Company LLP, a licensed independent CPA firm, providing attest services and Citrin Cooperman Advisors LLC, providing business advisory and non-attest services, operate as an alternative practice structure (“APS”) in accordance with the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct and applicable law, regulations and professional standards.