The Firm

Smith, Sullivan & Brown

Headquartered in Massachusetts, Smith, Sullivan & Brown is an independent accounting firm. Founded in 1993, the firm has grown steadily over the decades, providing CPA and accounting services to individuals, small businesses and nonprofits. 

The Challenge

A Team Beyond Capacity

Three decades of experience have earned Smith, Sullivan & Brown (SSB) a solid reputation for delivering personalized and proactive audit and accounting services. The firm’s growth was constant but steady. Then COVID-19 changed everything. 

The global pandemic brought an onslaught of new business requests as well as increasing the complexity and workload on current nonprofit accounts. At the same time, the firm’s key personnel were overloaded and hopelessly inundated.  “We were bombarded with new business requests, from clients we would normally love to work with,” says Managing Partner, Linda Smith, “And we were turning them down.”

Given their large clientele of nonprofits, they needed specialized audit expertise in this space. “During COVID-19, those organizations were flooded with federal money,” Smith explains. “Their audit requirements increased exponentially.” 

Like many firms, SSB experienced staff turnover, some of which was unexpected and depleted the team morale. “Even as we were closing the doors on new clients, the volume of work for our existing clients was getting huge. We were at a high risk of losing our best people if we couldn’t stabilize the workflow,” says Smith.  

“We had horrible luck with our own recruitment efforts, despite hiring marketing consultants and expanding our social media presence.  We had one bad hire after another.  We couldn’t see our way out of the storm and morale was tanking.  We just didn’t feel like we were able to do a good job, when that’s what we take so much pride in.”

Linda Smith, Managing Partner

The Solution

Build a Team That Can Match Your Own

Originally, the goal was simply for SSB to emerge from the ongoing crisis intact. “We saw [Paro] as a short-term fix,” says Smith, “A way to get our breath back, to put some wind in our sails so we could recover.” 

The firm worked with Paro to augment their staff at multiple levels. Staff-level talent expanded capacity while senior-level accounting experts were able to take on complex audits and assist with and support SSB’s internal oversight of staff and consultants. 

The firm was willing to invest in an elite pool of talent ready to add immediate value, and they combined Paro’s thorough onboarding process with a thoughtful onboarding of their own, from tech stack alignment to video orientations. The experts were able to easily integrate as a true extension of the firm’s remote, in-house team. Paro teammates prepare for and participate in board meeting presentations alongside the firm’s managers and partners. A seamless integration allowed for greater efficiency between internal and external talent—but most importantly—a trusting relationship. They really became “a part of our team,” Smith says.

Since they first made contact in early 2022, SSB has matched with several more Paro experts, totaling five experts. 

“Our relationship with Paro is very strong. Our Paro contact actively recruits for us, specifically in the nonprofit space. They’re very supportive.”

Linda Smith, Managing Partner

The Impact

A Winning Year for Profits & Morale

The results were immediate. Familiar with the nonprofit audit needs required, the qualified experts gave SSB the breathing room they needed as they continue to refine their portfolio in order to once again say yes to more profitable clients. 

Using the highly skilled experts from Paro’s staff augmentation services gave SSB the capacity to stabilize their nonprofit audit services. Their presence not only reduced the task workload for each individual team member but also freed up each partner’s ability to provide more forward-thinking advisory services. 

“I felt like I could actually be a partner again. It was a huge bailout for us—we’ve caught up a mountain of backlogged projects and we’re bringing back our team morale, which is perhaps our best victory.  We’re happy about our jobs again and we’re committed to maintaining a healthy workplace where we can all feel good about the work we do and be valued and appreciated for it.”

Linda Smith, Managing Partner

Even more importantly, despite adding additional fractional experts to their team, the firm’s profits didn’t go down. “We had our best year last year,” Smith says. “We gave out more bonuses and raises than ever before.”