A Winning Combination: Weaver and Levine & Seltzer Join Forces to Accelerate Growth in New York City
National CPA and advisory firm Weaver has expanded its presence in the New York market by combining with established New York firm, Levine & Seltzer, founded by Elliot Levine and Philip Seltzer in 1992. The firm will operate as Weaver, which is expanding its current footprint of 13 offices across the United States in this strategic growth market.
“The combination of our firms creates a remarkable synergy that allows us to continue to provide our clients with the accounting, audit and advisory services they depend on, while vastly expanding our capabilities,” says Levine. “Our goal was to make our firm better, and this transaction allows us to build wisely and bring additional value to our clients. Every piece has to fit, and we found that in Weaver’s growth strategy and its commitment to their people. The most critical aspect of the transaction was the continued quality of our services, and we couldn’t have found a better partner than the people at Weaver.”
Augmenting a National Footprint
“Since Weaver entered the New York market about five years ago, we’ve continued to expand our client base and add talented professionals to our team,” says John Mackel, Weaver’s CEO and managing partner. “This deal creates an exciting growth opportunity, and we look forward to amplifying the exceptional reputation Levine & Seltzer has established locally.”
As the largest accounting firm based in the Southwest, Weaver is proud of its Texas roots, yet Mackel says the firm has been seeking opportunities to grow nationally. Ten years ago it expanded to California with great success, and New York was the next logical move. “The business activity this triangle generates is immense,” Mackel says. “We are well-established in the alternative investment and real estate sectors and see clients looking for deals across these three markets.”
The ultimate goal is to create a presence in New York emulating that of Weaver’s Dallas and Houston offices, which each generate about $50 million in revenues with around 250 team members.
A Focus on Talent
One of Weaver’s distinguishing characteristics is its innovative approach to talent. The firm aims to help associates grow from new hires into partners, providing the type of environment that makes top talent want to build their career at Weaver. The attractions are many, but one is its collaborative and entrepreneurial culture that offers a true partnership with real equity.
“We reward partners for growing their teams and nurturing initiative,” Mackel explains. “We strive for 8 to 15% organic growth each year, and we provide the support to sufficiently build up our teams so they can meet our growth targets.”
In fact, one of Mackel’s traditions is to have a call with new interns and highlight partners who achieved their goal of making partner within a decade, and to show them what the path to success at Weaver can look like. “They’ll have to earn it of course, but we find it’s effective to show promising young talent that they can have the opportunity to work alongside partners who care about helping them get to the next level.”
Retaining employees is a key to Weaver’s success. Mackel attributes much of that success to a robust professional development program that includes annual training across the firm’s three service lines – audit, tax and advisory – along with industry-specific training in real estate, energy, alternative investments and many more. This helps team members to better understand and anticipate client needs. As employees ascend the ladder, they are offered comprehensive management and leadership training that fosters soft skills, like how to motivate their team, manage conflict and build stronger internal and external relationships.
Weaver also invests in coaching for employees and partners. “As an example, we are currently building a pilot program with leadership professionals from Rice University based on studies that demonstrate young professionals can benefit greatly from the kind of coaching that has traditionally been reserved for senior leaders,” Mackel says. In the future, Weaver plans to offer executive coaching sessions to any team member that requests it. Mackel adds, “We are excited about this program and believe it will be vital to the future retention of staff as we equip them with enhanced management skills.”
Ultimately, Weaver’s goal is to ensure healthy and deep client relationships. “We use client surveys to regularly gather feedback on how we are doing. Responses are used to track the net promoter score (NPS) of each partner, which subsequently feeds into their evaluation. This is the true measure of success”, points out Mackel. “We place a high value on providing the level of service we want to be known for. It is important to us to understand and reward those on our team that delivers.”
These philosophies were appealing to Levine as he considered joining forces with Weaver. “There is no better way to grow a firm than referrals from existing satisfied clients,” Levine says. “I couldn’t be happier that Weaver’s perspective is about providing quality service and creating long-term relationships, which has always been our number one priority.”
Finding Synergy in Working Together
This symbiotic mindset is what led the two to deepen their discussions. “We appreciated they were so ingrained in New York and had spent 30 years establishing a solid reputation,” says Mackel. “We were impressed with the relationships they had built with both private real estate entities and high net worth individuals who were loyal to Elliot’s team.”
For his part, Levine knew that Weaver’s deep breadth of services would allow him and his team to provide even more value to clients.
Both Weaver and Levine have seen significant organic growth over the past few years, particularly in transaction services, with the volume of merger and acquisition activity. Weaver has also grown in the IT advisory space, where companies are pursuing digital transformation and looking for insight on cybersecurity and automation. “Cybersecurity is no longer limited to just data companies, but impacts every company that uses a computer,” says Levine.
One of the IT advisory services Weaver provides is System and Organization Control (SOC) reporting, which Mackel says is a service area that has grown substantially, and is crucial as companies adapt to advances in technology and need to validate their internal controls to ensure privacy and security.
These additional capabilities will allow the expanded New York office to grow existing relationships. Levine says, “Our clients trust us and will appreciate the added service capabilities and value we can provide to them. We’ve always had quality service and talent, and this transaction with Weaver enables us to take it to the next level.”