Last Thursday we spoke to Greg Getzinger for our weekly “Insider Sources” series on Clubhouse. Getzinger has worked in business management for over 10 years, and made Partner at Gursey Schneider LLP in January 2020. Specializing in in-front and behind camera talent and high net-worth families, Getzinger shares what it is like leading a business management practice within a larger CPA firm, educating new talent, and the importance of mentorship during his time in business management.
Importance of mentorship
Getzinger got his start at a traditional accounting firm before switching to business management, working in firms such as Gelfand and Mejia & Kaplan before he was recruited by Marie Ambrosino to work for Gursey Schneider. Getzinger shares the importance of mentorship in business management, as he is especially thankful for the guidance Ambrosino showed him when he was first starting out at the firm.
“When I first went in for an interview, Marie and I talked almost none about business management — she just wanted to see what I was like as a person and if we would get along,” Getzinger said. “It’s nice to have someone to teach you those soft skills, and to just have confidence in you when you’re presented to clients and outside counsel. Her confidence gives me confidence, which is reflected with how I work with clients.”
Getzinger and Steven Hamilton, SVP at Banc of California, discussed what makes business management different from a traditional accounting firm. Key to what makes business managers successful is, as Hamilton said, is “resourcefulness and confidence.” Business management is very self-directional — while this gives a lot of people more control over their work schedule, it can also not be the right fit for someone who just wants to work a task oriented 9-5.
Which is why Getzinger particularly respects Ambrosino’s work ethic, especially since Ambrosino, since taking over as Partner in 2007, had to learn everything on her own. Since coming to Gursey Scheinder, Getzinger has particularly taken to the learning aspect of business management: he found the wealth of technical tax background at Gursey attractive, as well as the strength of leadership found at the different practices in Gursey. Getzinger tries to reflect the lessons Ambrosino taught him in his own work ethic, especially with how he chooses to educate the new talent hired on at the firm.
“I learn something every day. It is my job to know an ocean of information an inch thick,” Getzinger said. “So I love the learning aspect of the job the most.”
How to educate new talent while working at a larger firm
Getzinger finds that working within a larger firm gives him a lot more resources in terms of recruitment. While the business management practice at Gursey is a team of roughly 20 people, the firm itself has roughly 200 employees, which gives them a lot more overhead capacity in terms of appointed human resources directors and recruiters who exclusively scout new talent.
In terms of who gets recruited, Getzinger says that what he looks out for the most is personality. Getzinger still chooses to do the initial interviews; especially since business management is largely a service industry — helping clients “run their life and run their life well” — personality plays a large part in how a team works with each other, but also how the team can then serve clients.
An important part of educating newcomers is showing the “fun” part of business management. Especially since a lot of the industry requires self-motivation, Getzinger believes that while some people don’t take well to that kind of work ethic, many, especially new college-grads, will find a better work life balance and control over their own schedules.
“I put a high priority on personality. If you are curious about how life works — that is so much of what business management is,” Getzinger said. “It is almost better to have someone who is relatively new to the industry because you don’t have to break bad habits. You can mold them in the way you want to see them grow.”
How business managers are coming of age
Working within a larger firm, a large part of Getzinger’s new business comes in from the firm’s forensic accounting practice — high net-worth families, particularly divorcees, make up a growing portion of his client base.
Getzinger finds that the net worth of clients who believe they “need” a business manager has gone down — a factor that is potentially changing how business management runs. According to Hamilton, this shows that business management as an industry has become more common practice: before people believed that individuals with a very high net worth would need a business manager, but the practice is growing more accessible.
However, with more people recognizing the value in business management, comes a lot more consolidation and conglomeration. While Getzinger works within a bigger practice, he finds that Gursey has given him the tools and freedom to conduct the business management practice the way he and Ambrosino see fit.
“A lot of the original business managers are coming of age. People are recognizing the value in business management, but because of that you will continue to see conglomeration,” Getzinger said. “The business is not that old. So what you will start to see are companies that have overextended into a business they don’t understand, and the first people that suffer in that situation are the staff. The bureaucracy that comes with a lot of big firms is why accountants go into business management in the first place. If your staff is not happy, your clients are sure to follow.”