Rose Report: Issue 28
Get to Know RFS Partner, Bob Michaels
With more than 25 years of financial management experience, Bob Michaels knows the budgetary, finance and accounting challenges that organizations across a wide variety of sectors face. His entrepreneurial attitude, solid strategic planning and operations management skills—along with his outstanding corporate finance qualifications—consistently contribute to his clients’ bottom line efficiency, performance, process and profit improvement.
Prior to joining RFS in 2010, Bob was the CFO of The Optical Society. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from St. Bonaventure University. He is a CPA and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
We sat down with Bob for a Q&A on RFS, his role as partner and what inspires him.
Q. Tell us about your role at RFS – what you do, how you do it and why you love it.
A. I became a partner in November of 2015 after five years with RFS.
I love it here because RFS really is a wonderful organization. We have great people, great teams and we collaborate to become trusted finance and accounting advisors to our clients. We take our work seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously—accountants do have fun.
Q. What is the most challenging project you have worked on?
A. We were hired by a company that has been in business for more than 60 years—and wants to be around for another 60 or more. However, they did not have adequate financial reporting processes in place. We came in and implemented our technology solution, reinvigorating the company. We identified their pressure points and provided financial clarity, empowering them to continue growing and prospering for many years to come.
Q. If you had to sum up RFS’ strengths in two points, what would they be?
A. First, our people work so well together. They’re excellent at what they do. We bring on folks who are hungry to grow professionally and really want to learn. It excites me to help train them and see them advance their careers at RFS.
Second, we listen to our clients and provide the guidance they need. Our people have access to very strong resources in our shared service center, which helps us collaborate and share with the clients the best of us all. Our staff know that when they face a new question or problem, the answer can be found from one of their teammates, who are always willing to help out. They feel confident that they can get back to their clients not just with a solution, but the right solution. That combination of having the right resources and the right team structure helps our staff do great work and is a strength that we’re proud of.
Q. What excites you most about being a partner at RFS?
A. We believe in our clients’ missions and strive to understand their businesses. Seeing clients take our advice and reach their goals, seeing that positive impact, being part of that financial growth, minimizing compliance risk—it’s all very rewarding. Going into a client and being able to do that inspires me.
Q. What skill or specialty are you most proud of?
A. Financial management and being able to communicate with clients and provide them with guidance. You can be a good accountant, but that does not mean you will be able to communicate with your clients or successfully provide clients with meaningful information. Some clients are finance savvy, some aren’t. We gauge their perspective and then deliver the information in a way that is most useful to them. For some clients, providing the highlights is all they really need to make sound financial decisions. With others, we take a deeper dive and go through everything line by line, when needed.
Q. What is the best advice you ever received?
A. Be prepared for the unexpected. You can plan a day, a meeting, a conversation, but there might be a curveball.
Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?
A. I like to do a lot of hiking, spending time with my family and staying active. I like being outdoors, going to the beach and enjoying time off with friends and family. We have a trip planned to Maine to Acadia National Park soon. We’ve also hiked in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and have explored different parts of the country. One thing I want to do more of is explore other parts of the world.