Rehman Financial grows footprint

April 4, 2010
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Rehmann Financial, founded in 1941 as an accounting firm in Saginaw, today is expanding the footprint of its integrated approach to accounting and financial services to other states.

Managing Principal and President Fred J. Schaard told the Business Journal that the firm, with offices in Grand Rapids and Muskegon among its 10 in Michigan, has acquired three Ohio wealth management companies since the first of the year.

"In the Grand Rapids-Muskegon market, we have about 125 personnel," Grand Rapids Managing Principal Ronald L. Knipping said.

"What we've strived to build is an integrated service offering for our clients that brings all of their financial needs together, whether it's personal tax, corporate tax, advisory for their business, estate planning and wealth management.

"(The client) is able to meet with a team here, tell his story once about what he wants with his business, what he wants for a succession plan, how he wants his family to benefit from all that. That integrated team, after hearing the story once, together, goes out and implements a holistic approach, as opposed to that same client having to go to six different places to tell the same story."

Schaard said Rehmann has absorbed three wealth management firms in Cleveland and one in Florida this year. Several other deals are pending in southern Florida and Pittsburgh, he added. The company now has 600 employees in 16 offices in Michigan, Ohio and Florida, and also works with firms in Chicago. The expansion into other states began in earnest about three years ago, he said.

"We are trying to maintain our culture, first," he said. "Going forward, we are talking to and would like to expand on the CPA side now that we've got the financial side into Ohio. … We will do that in the not-too-distant future — merge with another CPA firm as well as in other markets with CPA firms."

Knipping said Rehmann has brought on three CPA firms in Michigan over the past three years.

"We had gotten to everywhere in Michigan we wanted to be, and that happened about the same time that the Michigan economy took such a hit," said Knipping, a member of Rehmann's executive committee. "So we did look at where else can we move toward stronger growth."

Called One Rehmann, the firm's integrated approach is based on objectivity, transparency and trustworthiness, added Schaard, who also is managing partner in a restaurant and hospitality investment group, Avatar LLC.

For example, following the lead of the tradition of its staff of CPAs, Rehmann's financial services disclose all fees and "soft dollar" payments, information that others may not reveal, he said.

"As we've grown to a little over $2 billion in managed assets, we've tried to emulate the CPAs' service offering of trust, objectivity and transparency. That's how we are different from other CPA firms that have financial offerings."

Knipping, a graduate of West Point with an MBA from the University of Michigan, said the integration of services allows Rehmann to provide a close eye on the tax ramifications of financial decision, which he said is especially important with the tax changes that will accompany the health care reforms recently approved in Washington.

"It's not what you earn, it's what you keep," Knipping said. "That is incredibly important, especially in today's environment where the tax costs for high net-worth clients is only going to go up."

According to its Web site, Rehmann holds four subsidiaries: Rehmann Robson, which provides CPA services; Rehmann Consulting, business management advisors; Rehmann Financial, for financial planning services; and Kerby, Bailey and Associates, which provides professional investigation and security consulting.

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