Our principal, a mensan, graduated with the highest grades in his college and took a position with the largest accounting and consulting firm in the world. He went on to take executive positions with a Fortune 250 company, an international bankcard and an oil & gas company before founding his own firm, which has clients in 46 states and is headquartered in rural Colorado. In his long and storied career, he worked alongside and with some very important people and was involved in a number of significant events that are still talked about.
Throughout our principal’s long and storied history, he watched the accounting profession lose relevance in the modern era and fail it’s closely held business clients. Closely held businesses are wholly owned by a single person or small group. As opposed to publically held companies which are owned by investors who buy stock on the public exchanges. Besides their size, the basic difference between them is this. Closely held companies are managed by people who are spending their own money. For that reason, their primary concerns are cash flow and income taxes. Publically held companies are spending other people’s money. As a result, they primary concerns are annual audits and earnings per share (EPS).
Our principal watched as his profession fell into complacency and replaced meaningful, thoughtful service with busy work. His opinion is the accounting profession today sees very little difference between businesses or owners and a template approach is a perfectly fine approach. He thinks they deal with every business in exactly the same way. In addition, most firms are working 14 hours a day in an attempt to push product out the door. That is not an environment to breed clear and innovative thinking.
The noted author Robert Greene said, “After learning your profession, you have to experiment, but most don’t. They do what’s safe and stagnate.” Those who experiment over a long period of time actually reinvent their profession and set a new standard of excellence. That’s what this firm is doing.
The result of general stagnation in the accounting profession is this … business owners pay more tax than the law requires, potential profits go unnoticed in the accounting database, owners of closely held businesses have no idea what their financial statements mean (nor do many accountants), cash & profits are wasted on frivolous workforce costs. time and money is wasted on mundane backroom functions that distract management from the critical areas of product development, marketing and sales and … regulatory damage runs rampant. But closely held businesses get little or no help from their accounting professionals, who seem to still be stuck in the 15th century with Luca Pacioli.
Watching his profession fade into irrelevance was a great frustration to Mr. Ellis, especially after the 2008 housing crisis when many closely held businesses failed precisely because of the issues discussed in the previous paragraph. The deep recession that struck then convinced him to devote himself and this firm to reinventing the accounting profession to provide the tools closely held business owners need to navigate the hazardous 21st century. That’s when our tagline was born … the edge to survive in a dangerous world.
This is our mission – to reinvent the accounting profession to make it relevant in the 21st century. We are a lone firm striving against a giant marshmallow that threatens to smother us. But at Ellis we don’t just do taxes. We cut taxes to the legal minimum. We don’t just do accounting. We mine new profits. And we provide other needed services, each of which offers unique twists that make it alien and unrecognizable to the general profession. We are constantly refining and adding as the economy dictates. Today we take pride in providing the tools closely held businesses need to survive and thrive in the 21st century … or in the words of Steve Jobs (who serves as our model) … to leave their mark on the universe.