Rumor: Is Some Culture Drama Going Down at Grant Thornton?

wooden block figures in conflict

We received a tip about a situation over at Grant Thornton that may or may not have any basis in reality but since the only time Grant Thornton ever gets mentioned here is to get made fun of over being so bad at auditing (it’s getting better OK!) we thought hey, let’s have a discussion about GT that doesn’t involve fines and failing companies.

Last year we learned that GT CEO Brad Preber would be abandoning his post and that Seth Siegel, a longtime Knight of the Purple Rose, would take his place. Siegel joined Grant Thornton in 1996 and became a partner in 2006; he served as Grant Thornton’s Florida Audit practice leader from 2012 to 2019. Siegel will assume the role of CEO on August 1, 2022, one day after Brad Preber retires, and is CEO-elect in the meantime.

At the time Preber’s retirement was announced, I distinctly remember several comments from tipsters suggesting that Preber was liked by grunts despite that whole layoff situation that happened just after Preber took over for the gloriously-mustachioed Mike McGuire who left in early 2020. Of course no Grant Thornton CEO will ever be able to top the DYNAMIC service of Stephen Chipman IN THEIR CHOSEN MARKETS but I digress.

Back to the tip. According to our tipster, some folks are unhappy with the direction GT is headed under Siegel’s leadership:

Grant Thornton is losing some very key partners to resignation right now and is actually trying to keep it from the firm and market as long as they can. Multiple partners with significant impact to the firm have already resigned with more coming. The reason; new CEO Seth Siegel.

Seth has found a way to alienate the majority of the organization through total lack of communication, building a “strategy” that he paid an outside firm mid seven figures for that is not resonating (so much for the GT strategy offering) and showing extreme favoritism in access to his closest board members from his time on the board (and who got him elected) and local Florida partners. Just watch the promotions to verify this.

We’re told up to 30% of partners are actively looking for exits and that many of them are so annoyed by the “toxic” culture right now they are basically phoning it in until they can find a new gig. “Seth was simply not ready to run an organization this big,” our tipster says.

We’ve heard that Grant Thornton is bleeding seniors but that’s A) nothing new and B) a phenomenon hitting every firm in the CHOSEN current market so duh, of course they are. But partners? Is this an actual thing Grant Thornton should be worried about or is it just the mass exodus happening at every firm as people whose priorities shifted during the pandemic start deciding there are better things to do in life than grind your life away in public accounting? Maybe some partners are still butthurt about getting their draws cut by 25% in 2020.

Anyone with more details on this alleged exodus or the sentiment at GT in general these days is welcome to get in touch. We’ll continue digging in the meantime. For now this appears to be just a rumor.

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21 Comments

  1. I love accounting firm gossip. That’s what makes this website great!

    In fairness, we don’t just make fun of Grant Thornton because they suck at auditing. We also make fun of them because they’re inferior to KPMG.

  2. This is total garbage. Find something else to misreport. This has the validity of high school gossip. Anyone that made it to the end of the poorly written article has way too much time on their hands. I quit about a paragraph in because the author has no command of the English language, while telling complete lies.

    1. Diane Swonk leaving is a big loss from a brand perspective but she obviously wasn’t servicing clients and she wasn’t a partner. As a line partner myself, I have not heard of any other partners leaving recently. There were partners that have left over the past year but no more than an average year.

      I also can promise I was never given a survey about whether I was looking for a new role so not sure how they could come up with the 30% number. The partners I work with regularly are pretty happy overall with the record breaking year we just had. It would be great to reduce turnover, but I dont think this is any more of a problem at GT than any other firms.

      Of course there is some uncertainty with a new CEO but that would be the case with any new CEO. While I dont know Seth personally he was the favorite of the finalist candidates. But there is no way you would be able to please everyone. Brad was great and well liked, and really increased the profitability of the firm. But with mandatory retirement this is just how it works in our business, at all firms.

    2. No offense to Diane as she’s good at what she does and is much smarter than me, but she was basically just a paid TV spokesperson. She went shopping for her next contract and KPMG has a much bigger marketing budget than GT…

  3. You could always celebrate that nearly all of the partners retiring are old white guys, being replaced, and appropriately so, by actual diversity in gender and race. We have too many partners, not enough vacation homes for them all.

    Anyways, you really think 30% of them are actively looking for another job or … maybe … they want to join a board of a publicly traded company? If board, then that number is 100%. Hell, make it 150%, losers like me want to be on a board. Free money, free shares, let your public accounting bros fall over themselves to sell work to you, free travel, torturing the c-suite and their minions, no accountability, #dream job. Partners have to sell their souls to be in the partnership; they only leave when they get too old and we hand their dried up, cracked, stained, and unsightly souls back to them. You don’t leave until we cast you out…or you get on a board. If board, then we would love to sell you some work.

    1. “You could always celebrate that nearly all of the partners retiring are old white guys, being replaced, and appropriately so, by actual diversity in gender and race. We have too many partners, not enough vacation homes for them all.”

      Really? you sound like a racist butthurt failure.

  4. Maybe it’s something to do with the fact the partners were led to believe they were selling to a private equity firm and all making a small fortune only to find out the deal fell through:)

  5. I’m a senior manager in NYC and I haven’t heard anything about partners leaving or any of the other stuff about the new CEO. The CEO transition is effective August 1st so he’s only just started to take over, how could there possibly be a “culture” problem already? Sounds like someone just has an axe to grind.

  6. As a partner in this firm for many years, I can say that this is all bull. The facts stated here are completely wrong. Yes there were a couple departures but no more than an average year at GT or any other firm. Seth hasn’t even started yet and people are already attacking him. Likely someone who just realized they are going to be held accountable moving forward. We had a fantastic year and have a solid plan for the future.

    1. Dear author: I hope you introduce yourself to commas and conjunctions today. I see run on sentences galore. What a useless article. I would delete it to save yourself. Zero credibility. How can a CEO be bad when they haven’t even started?

        1. Adrienne, you’re getting sassy since your failing blog has been made redundant by Fishbowl and Reddit. The only reason I’m here is I clicked an ad that you paid for, and was quickly reminded of the dribble that gets posted on this site.

  7. 30% seems like a high number but there have been some departures recently and a few more are hitting the rumor mill. GT should probably be more worried about staff turnover after bonuses are paid.

  8. I guess we should be glad GC sticks to the big four ’cause this article is really trying to make something out of nothing. For starters, the whole premise is blaming the CEO elect, who is not the CEO until August 1st, for the current problems (bad culture?) of the Company. Current issues belong to current administration. Oh there are facts, I’m sure, in here, but they are spun as “issues”. As someone without a dog in the fight, it seems GT is going through a typical leadership change. If the current administration was good, they would have found a way to stick with them. Gc working overdrive to make this seem scandalous when it is not. Makes me wonder about other articles on GC I tend to take more at face value.

    1. The title of the article literally says “Rumor.” Believe what you want to believe. But we are right about what we hear and publish a lot more often than we are wrong.

  9. Lots of purple roses in these comments getting butthurt that their for profit employer (who will fire them whenever they want) might be slimy place to work at.

  10. I was listening to NPR on the up-and-coming recession yesterday where they had Diane on. I was very surprised to hear, “and here’s Diane Swonk from the Audit, Tax, Advisory firm…KPMG”. After many years of working there, I left GT last year because it was just time to part ways. GT folks – what’s going on over there? Stop getting egg on your face already.

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