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Navigating Success with HBK: An In-Depth Conversation with Tom Angelo on the Arrow Podcast

Read Time 7 mins Published Jun 27, 2024

In This Podcast

In the latest episode of the Arrow Podcast, host Chris Mulvaney sits down with Tom Angelo, a key figure from HBK, a top 50 CPA and consulting firm. The episode dives into the firm’s history, its services, and the challenges it faces, providing listeners with an insightful look at what makes HBK a significant player in the accounting and consulting world.

A Legacy of Excellence: The Foundation and Growth of HBK

Tom Angelo begins by giving a brief history of HBK. Established in 1949, the firm has reached its 75th anniversary, a testament to its longstanding commitment to excellence. HBK specializes in serving mid-market entrepreneurial families and their businesses, offering a broad range of services. The firm’s core areas include traditional CPA services such as tax and audit, a substantial registered investment advisory business for high-net-worth clients, and a robust technology practice catering to smaller and lower middle-market businesses.

Diverse Services for Comprehensive Solutions

Angelo elaborates on HBK’s strategy of expanding its service lines to complement the needs of small to medium-sized businesses. This approach allows business owners to focus on their core activities while HBK manages ancillary functions.

Leadership Journey: From Small Firm to HBK

Angelo shares his personal journey in the accounting industry, starting from a small CPA firm to becoming a partner and eventually merging with HBK. His story highlights the entrepreneurial spirit that drives HBK, emphasizing the firm’s growth through strategic hires and acquisitions.

Strategic Expansion Through IT

One notable aspect of HBK’s growth strategy is the integration of IT services, which began in 2011. Starting from scratch with just one employee, the IT department has grown significantly, now boasting around 70 employees.

Industry-Focused Expertise

HBK’s pivot to industry solution groups marks a significant shift in their operational model. By creating specialized teams that focus on specific industries such as construction, manufacturing, and not-for-profits, HBK ensures that clients receive tailored services from experts who understand their unique challenges. This approach allows HBK to deliver deep, industry-specific insights and solutions, enhancing their value proposition to clients.

Overcoming Challenges: Talent Acquisition and Market Perception

Angelo identifies talent acquisition as a significant challenge for HBK, exacerbated by a general decline in young people entering the accounting profession. The firm is focused on creating opportunities and a culture that attracts and retains talent. Additionally, HBK strives to change the perception of accountants, positioning themselves as advisors who play a crucial role in major business and personal financial decisions.

Client Relationships: Building Trust and Delivering Value

Maintaining strong client relationships is at the core of HBK’s business model. Angelo explains that providing exceptional service and maintaining continuity in client teams are key to retaining clients. By understanding the intricacies of their clients’ businesses and family dynamics, HBK positions itself as a trusted advisor, not just a service provider.

The Ideal Client: Defining the Sweet Spot

Angelo provides insight into HBK’s ideal client profile, typically privately held enterprises with revenues between $10 million and $150 million. These clients often belong to industries such as manufacturing, construction, and B2B services. HBK’s team-based approach and industry expertise allow them to offer substantial value to these businesses.

Mergers and Acquisitions: A Growth Strategy

HBK’s growth strategy includes a significant focus on mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Angelo explains that cultural fit is crucial when considering potential acquisitions. The firm looks for companies with a similar client base and complementary services. A successful M&A strategy not only expands HBK’s service offerings but also brings in new talent and expertise.

Centralized Operations for Efficiency

To enhance efficiency, HBK is moving towards centralized operations for functions such as billing and administrative tasks. This shift allows the firm to streamline processes and leverage technology, including artificial intelligence, to improve service delivery and profitability.

Scaling Success: The Role of Business Development

Angelo highlights the role of business development in HBK’s growth. By hiring non-CPA business developers, the firm ensures that experts in sales and client acquisition support their technical teams. This approach, combined with digital marketing efforts, helps HBK attract new clients and expand its market reach.

Insights from Chris Mulvaney: Marketing Expertise and Business Growth Leadership

Throughout the conversation, Chris Mulvaney brings a wealth of knowledge from his extensive experience in marketing and business growth. As the founder and CEO of CMDS, a full-service marketing agency, Mulvaney has a proven track record of helping businesses elevate their brands and achieve significant growth. His expertise in digital marketing, branding, and strategic communications provides valuable context to the discussion, particularly in understanding how firms like HBK can effectively market their services and build strong client relationships.

Mulvaney emphasizes the importance of customer service and relationship management in any business. Drawing parallels between HBK’s client-centric approach and his own experiences, he highlights how excellent customer service is not just a differentiator but a fundamental requirement in today’s competitive landscape. Mulvaney’s insights reinforce the idea that businesses must go beyond basic service delivery to build lasting relationships based on trust and understanding.

He also sheds light on the evolving nature of client acquisition and the critical role of digital marketing in reaching potential clients. Mulvaney notes that clients today are more informed and conduct extensive research before engaging with a service provider. This shift underscores the need for firms like HBK to have a robust online presence, share thought leadership content, and demonstrate their expertise through various digital channels.

Conclusion: A Vision for the Future

As Angelo prepares to take over as CEO on September 1st, he reflects on HBK’s journey and its future. The firm’s commitment to providing industry-specific expertise, maintaining strong client relationships, and strategically expanding through M&A sets a solid foundation for continued success.

For more information or to connect with HBK, Tom Angelo can be reached via LinkedIn or at

Join us on the Arrow Podcast for more inspiring stories and actionable insights that can help you drive growth and innovation in your business.

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