In this interview, Raúl Hernández, RSM Puerto Rico Audit Partner, talks about having a critical eye, sharing knowledge, and finding flow. 


Could you start by telling us a little bit more about yourself? 

I am from Ponce, Puerto Rico, and accounting has always been part of my life. My dad was a CPA, and both me and my brother are CPAs. I came to San Juan, to study in the University of Puerto Rico, in Río Piedras, and eventually laid my foundation here. I have three daughters: Cherlyn, Adriana, and Valeria; and two grandkids that I love visiting in Seattle, where Cherlyn lives.

Tell us the story of how you came to work in the firm and your career path to partnership.

I always aspired to become partner. I started my journey in Arthur Andersen but soon enough realized that my goals were not aligned with the firm. As I sought opportunities in the private sector, Fernando Rodríguez Amaro (founding partner) found out and reached out to me. He convinced me to drop an offer I had already signed and hired me on the spot. He really had a powerful presence and incredible persuasions skills (laughs). So, I started in RSM Puerto Rico in 1984, as a Senior, and never looked back because I felt comfortable to be transparent about my goals here and to work for them. Fernando truly was a mentor to me, coaching me all the way to the partnership. I then became part of the third generation of partners, in 2004. We were young, but ready for the next step!

In the past few years, RSM Puerto Rico has managed to overcome three natural disasters, two hurricanes (María and Fiona) and an earthquake—all of which devastated the island—and a pandemic that changed the way business is done. What has been your strategy to lead your team through such challenging times? 

To answer this question, I must take you all the way back to my early days as a partner. The second generation of partners moved on very quickly. Therefore, we [the third generation] had to understand how to adapt to changes on the fly and continue working. We learned a lot from them, but it was time for us to establish our leadership style and rise to the occasion. Going through that transition really strengthened us as a team, and from there we understood how to pull through, together, during crisis. Hurricane María was a good example of how we implemented the lessons. While no one is ever fully prepared for catastrophes, we knew we could work through it and re-invent ourselves. The COVID-19 pandemic was even harder. With many of our services paralyzed, we had to completely re-think how we reached out to our clients and helped them. Once again, we found our new flow and got it done.

What do you uniquely contribute to the team of partners?

Overall, I know that I am very technical. I am always available to help and figure out the details. In fact, back when I started in 1984, I became the leader of our voluntary peer review process where firms participate to assess and rate their transparency and caliber of work. I went on to become an internal quality auditor for RSM International and performed reviews in many of the RSM Network’s firms in Latin America. While I no longer perform those reviews for RSM International, I am still the president of the Peer Review Quality Committee of the Puerto Rico State Society of Certified Public Accountants (CCPA, by its Spanish acronym). These experiences really gave me an analytical and critical eye, which I happily use to identify how we can constantly improve RSM Puerto Rico. Furthermore, I am always open to passing on the knowledge. I believe that helping others learn is the way we grow and improve. If someone wants to pick my brain, my door is always open. I might be busy or with time constraints, but we can make it happen.

How are things changing in the practice of your specialization that is reshaping businesses?

Audit is becoming more and more rigorous every day. If there are new ways to commit fraud, there must be new ways to prevent, detect and deter it. This is where we come in. In addition to being a CPA, I am a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Because I specialize in insurance, pension plans, and government accounts—all very technical industries, extremely regulated, and constantly changing—I know that we have the responsibility, as a firm, to be up to date and prepared for all the nuances that may occur. Among other things, this means that we need to constantly educate our staff to be on top of the latest information, without passing the cost onto the clients. It is a delicate balance, but we have managed to maintain high-quality work and the best standards in the industry.

How do you envision the future of the firm?

I see RSM Puerto Rico becoming the number one firm on the island. Throughout three generations of partners and different offices, our growth has been constant. This really is a testament to what we are made of. Our growth mentality has been instilled in us since the first generation of partners. We believe that growing and empowering our teams is the way to move forward. Think of it like "hire first and the opportunities will come". 

As I am close to my retirement, I can confidently say that RSM Puerto Rico is in good hands. The up-and-coming partners are honest, hardworking professionals who are more than capable to carry on the vision and have the potential to take the firm to the next level. When my generation of partners acquired the firm, we were brave enough to move forward and push it to where it is now. As new partners come in, and more partners should come in because that is the key for growth, I know that RSM Puerto Rico will continue its steady path upwards.

And what about you as a person outside of work – what do you like to do in your free time?

I am a musician first! (Laughs.) I have been in bands since I was 17 years old, and I am currently a member in three bands. I play the bass in all of them. They are “Business as Usual”, “Al Cuadrado”, and the “Silver Rebel Band”, in which I also have the joy of playing along another firm’s partner, Rodrigo Morell.  

I am also a sports car aficionado who likes to maintain a healthy lifestyle – this is important at my age! (Laughs.) I really enjoy playing tennis, but it is not something I practice as often as I want. 

Another important part of my life is giving back through charity work. I am currently the treasurer of Niños Nueva Esperanza, Inc., an organization in which I have been involved for more than 20 years, as president, director, board member…you name it!


This is the ninth delivery in a series of interviews to our partners and leadership, in lieu of the firm’s 45th anniversary celebration and inspired by an internal communication initiative by RSM International.