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Grant Thornton CEO: Makeovers Don’t Win

As we all know, Grant Thornton has upped its game in the past few months. It rolled out a new fancy schmancy ad campaign that explains how not to be a loser and was the surprise top dog in this year’s Vault rankings.

Yesterday, the Purple Rose of Chicago announced that more good times are coming via its new “Growth Platform” that will give all those dynamo clients a spurt. Hey! there’s even a website for the whole thing.

So in case things aren’t clear, growth is winning. And it’s not just for the lucky clients who count GT as their professional services provider. The firm itself is a weed of dynamism, says Stephen Chipman:

Grant Thornton has growth plans of its own. “We want to grow ourselves,” said Chipman. “We’re dynamic and we’re on the move. We want to, over time, raise the bar on the growth agenda and be committed to it for the long haul.” The firm plans to continue with its global expansion plans, especially in emerging markets. “We’ve been very vocal about how the global organization has an ambitious five-year strategy to double our market share, and that’s consistent with our plans here in the United States,” said Chipman. “There will be organic growth, it will be strategic growth. We will invest in new talent and expertise, and it will be M&A growth through mergers and acquisitions.”

Right! Connecticut! What’s more exciting than the Constitution State? Wait, don’t answer that. You’re probably wondering if all this excitement means that GT will go for a sexy new makeover. You know, something less Northwestern and maybe something more…Ohio State, perhaps? Well, as of now, that won’t be necessary:

The new brand positioning will not extend as far as changing the firm’s logo or slogan, at least not yet. “We are not changing our logo,” said Chipman. “You will see the same Grant Thornton logo, but you will see a lot of branded material focused on supporting the growth agenda.” However, Grant Thornton may eventually evolve its strategy to incorporate new taglines or slogans. “As we move forward with this over the next several months, we will certainly be looking for different ways to innovate to present our messaging,” said Chipman.

So it sounds like the team colors will stay the same but could a message focused on “growth” actually involve something that tangibly “grows” like say, “roses”? And by extension, could this mean tangos will make a comeback? God, please make it so.

Grant Thornton Positions Itself for Growth [AT]

Would You Show Your Loyalty to KPMG with a Tramp Stamp?

Or the new PwC logo on the back of your neck? How about Deloitte green dots incorporated into some barbed wire? Sure most people are looking for new jobs but for those of you looking to show some loyalty to your firm, you should know that some company ink may go a long way:

Employees of Anytime Fitness, a workout chain based in Hastings, Minn., can get the company’s purple running man logo permanently inked on their bodies by a tattoo artist who shows up at monthly training sessions. More than 350 employees have gotten permanent tattoos including CEO Chuck Runyon.

Runyon says the tattoo represents a significant commitment to the brand. Employees receive standard benefits like retirement plans and health insurance, but they also have flexible hours and an office culture that includes contests and giveaways among staff, a combination of perks that Runyon believes encourages employee loyalty.

“We spend a third of our lives at work,” he says. “If you don’t love what you do, that’s a miserable existence.”

How Far Would You Go for Your Company? [FINS]

Moss Adams Freshens Up Their Look

It’s spring, which means change is in the air; flowers are blooming, the air is warm, animals are frisky, all that crap. And perhaps because it is such a refreshing time of year, Moss Adams has rolled out a refreshed image, updating their colors, adding a tagl website a new look and feel. The firm officially rolled out its new and improved look today and Moss Adams CEO Rick Anderson was kind enough to speak to us about it.

Going Concern: So why the face lift (or does this simply qualify as Botox injections)? Is it because the firm is getting up in there in age and it’s not feeling as desirable as it once did?

Rick Anderson: As you know, a brand is an intangible asset with economic value that requires management to help it appreciate. The last refresh we did was in 2006-2007 and much has changed since then. The current updates to our colors, our tagline, and our graphic elements represent the energy and thought leadership we put into every relationship and engagement.

GC: The changes appear to be more subtle than, say, another firm that comes to mind – was that a conscious choice? Was anyone involved in the creative process dropping ideas that revolved around Legos or October foliage?

RA: Our creative team presented several options ranging from a small tweak to a full scale rebrand. Because Moss Adams is built on such a solid foundation, we decided that our vision, mission, and values would remain intact. And so would our logo, as we wanted easy recognition of our brand and we wanted to preserve the equity already built. So we are calling our new look and feel a “refresh” instead of a rebrand because it continues to focus on many of our historical strengths.

GC: Okay, sounds like simply “ma” could have been on the table. Moving on… The new tagline is “Acumen. Agility. Answers.” Do these merits have special meaning for MA or did they happen upon someone flipping through the A section of the dictionary?

RA: We created the tagline to reinforce important aspects of our brand that our clients called out in our client satisfaction survey. “Acumen. Agility. Answers.” is a simple, benefit-driven tagline that conveys three important attributes of the service we provide our clients: Acumen – Keen insight we deliver; Agility – Our ability to respond quickly; Answers – Correct and valuable responses to questions and problems.

GC: So the clients are the wordsmiths. Got it. What’s the feedback been so far? Are you expecting excitement at first followed by some sort of Charlie Sheen-esque backlash?

RA: We have been rolling out the new sales and marketing materials for the past few months, initially internally and then externally, and the response is favorable. People like the refreshed look. The new website just launched and focuses more heavily on valuable resources for our visitors. It is a bit early to gauge our metrics on that.

GC: In other words: WINNING! That’s wonderful. What other new and exciting things can we expect to see from MA this year? Office openings? More work-life balance initiatives? A new dancing partner?

RA: We are off to a good start to 2011. Our annual firm leadership meeting is in a few weeks and our focus will continue to be on taking care of our existing clients and personnel while continuing to focus on growth to provide more opportunities for our people and more resources for our clients. We are seeing some positive signs and are looking forward to a good 2011.

Did Ohio State Dump Deloitte for PwC Over Colors?

Sounds like CFO Geoff Chatas and state auditor Dave Yost wanted to figure a way around a 15-year limit but it was to no avail, “Ohio State CFO Geoff Chatas said Yost discussed with him the possibility of letting Ohio State be the first to stick with the same audit firm, but the school opted to put the contract out for bid.”

A likely story. If you ask me, this has everything to do with the fact that Deloitte’s main color is blue while PwC has opted for slightly more appropriate hues.

PwC to follow Deloitte as Ohio State audit firm [CBF]

PwC Talent Leader Talks 2011 Hiring Spree, ‘Competitive’ Poaching, Autumnal Hues

As we’ve discussed, Big 4 firms are doing their part to marginally improve the frightening national unemployment number by embarking on epic hiring bonanzas in the coming years. FINS reporter Kyle Stock ran down Paula Loop, PwC’s Global and U.S. Talent Leader to find out the details on the firm’s plans and here are a few highlights:

Starting off – if unemployment doesn’t improve by 2012, Obama won’t be able to blame PwC:

KS: It seems like the firm is always hiring, how does that 45,000 compare with 2008 and 2009?

PL: It’s certainly higher than it has been in recent years. For the US, we’re hoping to hire around 10,000 this year. Those numbers are about 60% higher than they were for 2009 or 2010. About 6,000 of those are campus hires and 4,000 are on the experienced side.

Rumors of our acclimating to social media at a snail’s pace have been greatly accurate but only because we were waiting for The One:

KS: When PwC announced the LinkedIn [partnership], some articles said PwC has been slow to embrace social networking — is that accurate?

PL: Well, we were waiting for the right place at the right time. LinkedIn was a really good match for us.

Poaching, on the other hand, we’re all over that:

KS: I always try to ask about poaching. Is PwC hiring from competitors much these days?

PL: Because I think we are hiring more people, there’s more activity there. That’s always been a place we like to stay competitive.

Once you land those people, how do you keep them? Well, it helps if you come to grips with the fact that the last week of the year is pointless and you tell everyone to stay home. Secondly, you replace the old swag:

KS: Is PwC doing anything new to increase retention?

PL: We’ve had some great stuff on the retention front. We had an annual shutdown between Christmas and New Year’s where we closed our firm. That’s a terrific thing for us. I can tell you, you really get a chance to disconnect. Not only are you on vacation, but no one else is working. It gets people rejuvenated.

And we’re always doing stuff. Our new brand was a really great and exciting thing. We all have new bags for our computers that have our new colors for the new brand.

Right, the new brand! That was exciting. Sure, there might have been some kvetching at first but now that everyone has calmed down it’s really what makes us different from other firms:

KS: So how does the culture differ from a company like Deloitte?

PL: It’s hard for me to say on that, because I haven’t been a part of their culture, but I would say our new brand launch this fall really defines our culture. The colors are really vibrant and warm. We took that really long name and shortened it up. Our new logo can be really animated. I think that’s really what we’re trying to bring out in our culture.

PwC’s Paula Loop on Hiring 45,000 and the Firm’s Big Change [FINS]

The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: PwC #73 (2011)

Next up on our F100BCTWF watch is the former home of the next great superhero, PwC who slid a couple a spots from last year’s #71 but this does extend the streak to seven years on the list. We’ll dispense with any more pleasantries and get right to the particulars.

PwC – Previous rank: #71. Why so great? Fortune cites “flexibility” (you read that Times article too?), “training” and “ethics” (although a more robust appropriate email refresher is probably needed).

Stats of note:
New Jobs (1 year): -1,100
% Job Growth (1 year): -4%
% Voluntary Turnover: 11%
No. of Job Openings at 1/13/2010: 9,144
Most common salaried job: Manager/Supervisor – $86,826
% Minorities: 27%
% Women: 48%

Comparing with last year’s stats, things have dropped off a bit as new jobs, % job growth and average salary have all gone down while turnover has gone up. Percentage of minorities is unchanged while percentage of women is down a tick. The brightest spot (or biggest pain in some of your asses) is the number of job openings, which has nearly doubled from last year and is nearly triple of rival Deloitte’s current number of openings.

The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: Plante & Moran #26 (2011)
The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: Deloitte #63 (2011)
The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For: PricewaterhouseCoopers #71