As reported in the KCBJ article recently, there’s a lot going on here at Fortiviti!
Getting through the pandemic was especially difficult for financial services and other professional services companies. With the pandemic came stimulus and with stimulus came a lot of additional paperwork, compliance, and other support needed to help small businesses through.
“It wasn’t easy. We were learning along with our clients and trying to keep up with the ever-changing guidance. We worked our team too hard. We struggled to provide the same level of service with our core business tasks as we tried to manage the additional workload caused by the pandemic,” – Shauna Huntington.
Fortiviti is an outsourced accounting department and back-office. We provide accounting, payroll, and administrative services to our clients. So, we were in the thick of COVID-relief work.
“A lot of companies made a killing by providing services related to COVID-relief. But we didn’t feel it was right for us to ask clients to pay additional for the COVID work we were doing, at the same time many of them were struggling to stay in business. It definitely cost us some staff through burnout and some clients who didn’t have the patience to deal with our drop-in service-levels during that time. But, in the end, I think it’s made us stronger and, as a company, we have a team and clients that value what we do and the support we’ve been providing,” – Shauna Huntington.
Fast forward 2 years, and Fortiviti is moving forward. Over the last year, we have installed and transitioned to a newly formed executive leadership team. Our growth over the last few years, as well as the needs of our clients and team, has led our employees to fill key positions, which will help the company continue to excel as we grow.
“Over the last year and a half, I have worked with our new leadership team to develop the best structure to support our team and our clients. They will be taking over key responsibilities from me, so that our clients and our team can receive better levels of support and I can focus on our strategic vision and long-term growth,” – Shauna Huntington.
Elyse oversees all things Client Service. She started her professional career at Fortiviti 8 years ago as an intern. Following graduation, she left Fortiviti and spent 6 years at BKD, the largest public accounting firm in KC, before returning to us just over a year ago. She has already filled several roles within the company and was promoted to VP of Operations six months ago.
Mandy was also a BKD alum, who left two years ago to pursue investment banking. While she enjoyed the pace of investment banking, during her time there, she saw the massive need that all growing, and scaling business have – an insight into their numbers. By leading Fortiviti’s Business Development team, Mandy has the ability to use her accounting skills in a different way – supporting Clients by looking for better ways to provide value to them, ensuring the best level of service and helping to recruit top-level talent to Fortiviti’s ever-growing team.
Meley and Shauna were introduced in 2006 and they pursued their MBA’s together at Baker University. During that time, Shauna hired Meley to fill a staff accountant role to support her in her corporate controller position. They worked together for a couple of years before Shauna left to start Fortiviti and Meley filled her seat! When Shauna went out in search for the perfect person to fill this key role within Fortiviti, the timing worked out perfectly for the two to join forces once again.
“I think a unique asset to our current leadership team is that we were all connected in some way previously. It’s helped to bring cohesiveness to the group and trust in each other that we’re all here to do what’s best for our team and our clients,” – Mandy Prather.
INCREASED TEAM SUPPORT
To support to the new executive leadership team, we added some additional positions to assist in our growth. The CFOs lead Fortiviti’s client service teams. They oversee the controllers and are there to support them and step in as needed on higher-level client/financial issues. Kelsey Darnell, CPA and Nicole Melius are our two current CFOs. Kelsey’s experience is in public accounting, while Nicole has progressive levels of corporate accounting experience, so they are a great complement to each other.
Recently, we have also added positions in QA, Onboarding, Payroll, and Support functions over the last year, as well as continuing to add to our controller staff, more than doubling headcount over the last 2 years in an effort to better serve our clients. Currently, we employ 30 team members.
“I’m really excited about our current team. While we struggled during the pandemic and had a significant amount of turnover, we’ve worked over the last year to increase compensation, add incentive programs, and alleviate the extensive workload for our team. We’ve got some great people that have stuck with us through it all. For those clients who have been around a long time, you can mention Amelia, Danae, or Casie, and they are excited to work with some of our best!” – Shauna Huntington.
NEW HR SERVICES
With our full-service accounting back-office and monthly accounting service options, Fortiviti has unveiled new HR services this year. We added an HR Hotline, Employee Handbook and Policy Creation, Recruiting, and Performance Management to provide even more support to our clients and their needs.
“So many of our clients rely on us for their payroll and benefits processing and compliance, but they do not have a resource to handle the more specific HR needs. We’re excited to formally roll these services out in the coming months, and we appreciate our clients who have been working through our pilot programs and helping us test the waters!” – Elyse Bender.
Coinciding with the roll out of new services, our team is starting the development of a client management system this year, which will provide better tools for managing the business operations, while giving clients more insight into their financial metrics and business performance.
The biggest challenge we are facing right now is finding top-talent to join our team. We hire accounting and finance professionals from entry-level up to executives. However, we are always searching for those individuals who are passionate about entrepreneurship and small business, which can sometimes be challenging to find.
“We’re trying to stay ahead of our staffing. We have significant growth plans and would like to hire team members before we need them. This allows for proper training and ramp time. But, we want the right people. They have to live our core values and have a desire to take care of our clients. We’re hoping that our increased compensation levels and company culture will help to lead more quality candidates to Fortiviti,” – Meley King.
Fortiviti has averaged revenue growth of 25 percent since 2014. In 2021, we shifted our focus to profitability, refining the right-fit client and service packages. Fortiviti is on track to grow another 25% top line this year. However, with the renewed focus on profitability, we expect to see a growth in operating income of over 150%.
“I look forward to a great continued partnership with our clients, team members, key partners, and friends of Fortiviti. We are very excited about our recent growth, our increased level of support, new ways to help, and an exciting future post-pandemic. We may have begun this journey 14 years ago, but I feel like we’re just getting started!” – Shauna Huntington.