It’s always people before profits at Plante Moran.

Since its founding in 1924, the firm has grown from a sole accounting practitioner in a Detroit office to one of the nation’s largest audit, tax, consulting, and wealth management firms. Yet its people-first philosophy has never wavered.

“Early on, we started this different and unique culture that’s allowed us to retain great staff and serve our clients well,” said Kimber Smail, office managing partner at their Flint location, 4444 W. Bristol Road. “Our culture is very important to us.”

That culture is rooted in what founders Elorion Plante and Frank Moran first envisioned: an accounting firm where the best practitioners couldn’t wait to get in the door and clients were lining up to receive unsurpassed service.

To achieve this, they built the firm on principles and values such as following the Golden Rule, doing the right thing for the right reasons, and putting people and a long-term view before profits, Smail said.
“A century later, our firm still operates under these same philosophies,” said Jim Proppe, the company’s managing partner. “It’s been the key to our success for 100 years, and I have no doubt it’s what will help us succeed for 100-plus more.”

A graphic showing the five tenats of Plante Moran's wheel of progress.

Plante Moran has grown exponentially through the years. Its staff of more than 3,800 professionals now serve clients around the globe, with offices across the U.S. including Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Colorado as well as internationally in Mexico, China, Japan, and India. This includes more than 85 staff in the firm’s Flint office, who serve clients ranging from municipalities and K-12 school districts to manufacturing and not-for-profit organizations.

“What I love about the Flint and Genesee County community is that we also work with a large number of family-owned businesses,” Smail said.

Unlike many other professional service firms, Plante Moran relies on a unified structure it calls the “one-firm firm.” By eliminating office-level profit centers, they avoid inter-office competition in favor of firm-wide collaboration.

“That means I may be sitting in the Flint office and helping a client in Auburn Hills or Southfield — or I might call on a colleague in Chicago to help me with my Flint and Genesee County clients; it’s about bringing the right expert to the client, regardless of the office they work out of,” Smail said.

Along with high-quality client services, Plante Moran prioritizes work-life balance, mental health, and diversity, equity, and inclusion for its team.

Staff members couldn’t agree more: The firm in April celebrated a 26-year streak on Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Plante Moran ranked No. 12 on the list for 2024.

“We pride ourselves on being a firm both staff and clients can count on,” Proppe said. “Our staff count on us to nurture and maintain our one-of-a-kind culture, and our clients count on us to provide them with outstanding service so that they in turn can support those who count on them.”

Plante Moran has also been honored by Newsweek on their list of “America’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity” for 2024. The list features the top large and midsize companies recognized by their staff for respecting and valuing individuals from all walks of life.

As Plante Moran celebrates its 100th year in business, its leaders say they will continue to focus on client service, innovation, and building a strong pipeline of talent.

Finding new talent is a challenge for many firms as the number of U.S. accounting graduates continues to drop. Overall, the number of students graduating with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting dropped 7.4% to 65,305 in the 2021 to 2022 academic year, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Plante Moran is committed to reversing that trend, Smail said.

Several years ago, they began a program called Track that introduces racially diverse business students as college freshmen and sophomores to the multifaceted world of accounting.

“We try to get in front of students and say, ‘Come and learn about these career opportunities and do a mini-internship with us,’” Smail said. “We’ve found this to be really helpful.”

Plante Moran considers itself lucky to be right down the road from the University of Michigan-Flint. The local office spends a significant amount of time with students and faculty in the School of Management, which offers bachelor’s and master’s accounting degrees.

Close to 70% of Plante Moran’s new hires come via internships.

“We see huge success with internships because they come in and experience the work and our culture,” said Smail, who started with the firm 26 years ago as an intern.

And the firm’s commitment to its staff and clients continues to shine through.

“We really walk the talk,” Smail said. “It makes you feel good to know people really do care about you.”