“We have been growing dramatically on a global basis. RSM has been our trusted advisor every step of the way.”
—Jim Ahlborn, Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer, Shure Incorporated
For Jim Ahlborn, it comes down to this: At RSM, he and his company are treated like an “A” customer. “To be treated as an ‘A’ customer,” he says, means, “I can speak to our audit, tax or consulting partner any time, any day of the week, and get an immediate response.” With other providers, he says, you might just get voicemail.
“Our mission is to be the most trusted audio brand worldwide,” notes Ahlborn. To that end, Shure has been entering new markets around the world at a rapid pace. “When RSM became our business advisor 15 years ago, we had locations in the United States, Mexico and Germany. Now we are almost three times the size in terms of revenue, and we have 20 locations in 14 different countries.”
“Whether it's acquiring a new company in the United Kingdom, setting up a new entity in China, or establishing a new location in Russia or Brazil, RSM was right there with us as we've expanded.”
As an example, Ahlborn described an acquisition that Shure made in Scandinavia. “We had never done business in Norway, Denmark or Sweden before. The local RSM firm was a terrific advisor for us not only from due diligence through the close, but they also provided us with local support for accounting, tax and even payroll. They've been wonderful business advisors and collaborators for us in Scandinavia, and have been the eyes and the ears for me there, which is so far away from our corporate headquarters.”
Whenever he travels, Ahlborn makes it a point to visit the partner at the local RSM firm. “It seems like the rules are always changing. I always make a point to visit with our local RSM tax partner and audit partner to better understand how we can still be compliant, and to learn what we need to know regarding changing regulatory mandates that are coming our way. RSM helps me stay abreast of what we have to do differently to still remain in compliance.”
Coordinated services on a global level
“The benefit I get from having RSM firms collaborate to serve me as a single global client is the efficiency in performing the year-end close, as well as the communication and collaboration amongst the various partners to get things done,” says Ahlborn.
One of the ways Shure and RSM have achieved such efficiency is by establishing an annual global meeting with representatives from the local offices of both Shure and the RSM network firms serving them. “The annual partners meeting we have with the RSM team is a huge benefit to Shure,” he says. “In one setting, I can have all of my client service partners together, talking about and resolving the issues we have. Over the course of three hours, I'm able to save three to six months of phone calls, emails and other correspondence to try to resolve the similar issues.”
As a result of this collaborative approach, the RSM team was able to take Shure’s year-end close from three months (“a long, painful process,” says Ahlborn) down to one month. “Through our annual partner meetings, the RSM team gives us the same high-quality service in a condensed time frame, which saves me time and expense,” he notes.
Business insight and understanding
“The biggest benefit I get from my relationship with RSM is their business advice. That separates the RSM network from other providers. RSM will tell you how we can actually get things done within the compliance framework without having to add a lot of people or expense.
“Throughout the year, I keep in constant touch with our client service professionals, at our headquarters outside Chicago or around the world. I'm not averse to picking up the phone and calling any of the RSM partners at any time of the day or week, and they will gladly pick up the phone and speak to me about our issues. That constant communication throughout the calendar year enables us to set the stage for a more successful audit and tax season.
“What also sets RSM apart from other networks is their people. The people that they have on staff are not only qualified in their respective areas, they are very good business people. Aside from understanding accounting, audit, tax and regulatory issues, they understand business and they provide us with solid business advice.
“Over the years, I’ve developed a relationship with these individuals where they understand my expectations and I understand what they’re trying to do; we work very well together because of that. They help me, and they help enable our business growth.
“One day I'm with RSM partners at the Rock Hall of Fame induction ceremony”— where a number of Shure products were on display —“and the next day I'm in the boardroom with them talking about an audit issue and reviewing the year-end financial statements.
“It's a great relationship.”