HMC Business Consulting, LLC
Herbert M. Chain, MBA, CPA
Independent Director, Audit Committee Chair, SOX Financial Expert, Accounting and Auditing Professional, Professor, Consultant
Sound advice based on experience
|Posted on July 9, 2020 at 4:00 PM|
Here's a link to a podcast I did with Nick Lamparelli of Insurance Nerds about "Next Gen Analytics & The Internet of Things: Powering Insurtech" - a conference we were sponsoring at the Tobin Center for Executive Education (https://www.stjohns.edu/resources/places/tobin-center-executive-education) - a division of The Peter J. Tobin College of Business of St. John's University.
Connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/herbchain/ to learn about other events and programs.
|Posted on May 8, 2017 at 8:15 AM|
I am proud to broaden my "encore career" scope - and to continue to give back to the profession and industry that has been so good to me throughout my first career with Deloitte. This new role enables me to combine my industry experience (content) with the knowledge I have gained as professor (educational process/pedagogy).
I am now the Director of Education for the Investment Management Due Diligence Association (IMDDA), a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to advancing the interests of institutional investors who conduct due diligence on new and existing investments. I have assumed this role while continuing my consulting practice and St. John's University professor position.
In this consultant role I will be responsible for all aspects of the educational curriculum of the organization - training both investor due diligence professionals and investment managers who are being reviewed, and planning and executing the program.
As I keep saying...I never retired from Deloitte - I just changed careers due to mandatory retirement. The new path continues...
|Posted on November 25, 2015 at 10:35 AM|
I pondered whether or not to contribute yet another cliché-ridden note of thanks to the many posts, blogs and messages to that effect during this time of year. However, I realized that I truly am grateful for many things during this season of gratitude: my family, my friends, my colleagues, and the professional experience that Deloitte provided me for 38 years and needed to share my thoughts.
This is my first holiday season as a “retiree” from Deloitte. For almost four decades, at this time of year I was in the middle of planning for year-end audit engagements, negotiating fees, and generally working with my colleagues from first-year staff to other partners. This year, however, I am heavily involved in establishing my own consulting and advisory firm. It is both exciting and a bit scary at the same time.
While I could spend paragraphs on personal-level thankfulness (and which I greatly feel), this post deals with professional gratitude. My friends and colleagues know that I spent my entire professional career with Deloitte. I started on June 6, 1977 with Haskins & Sells, fresh from my MBA graduation a few weeks earlier. I stayed with the firm through at least one name change (to Deloitte Haskins & Sells), one major merger (with Touche Ross in 1989) and many significant changes to the firm and the profession. (The creation of the PCAOB under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 being the most significant to me.)
I had the pleasure during my career of working with the finest professionals one could ask for -- highly intelligent, motivated, dedicated, and ethical. We were taught that client service was our objective, our “raison d'etre,” while at the same time demanding that we act in an independent and ethical manner at all times. It was a fine balance -- serving clients and fulfilling our obligations to the public. A privilege and an obligation at the same time…each to be taken very seriously.
I also grew from a newbie with very little business experience to a seasoned, experienced businessperson. My clients initially included companies and organizations in the higher education, publishing, real estate, natural resources and consumer goods industries. Eventually, I became specialized in the investment management sector of the financial services industry. All along the way, there were mentors, advisors and teachers. I learned from all of them about what it means to be a part of Deloitte…and what it means to be a professional.
I also had the joy of seeing my younger team members over the years mature, evolve, learn, and succeed -- seeing my “children, grandchildren and great grandchildren” progress and grab that golden ring of partnership, if that were their desire. And, of course, many chose not to pursue that career path and have succeeded in private accounting positions and in other careers.
So, what is the point of this note? Well, simply, it is to express publicly how thankful I am for the professional career I have had so far. I’d like to think that I contributed to whatever success I may have had, but without a firm like Deloitte backing and supporting me, I would not have learned, matured or evolved in the way I did. We talk about “nature or nurture.” Well, Deloitte and its culture of ethics, learning, respect, and professionalism became part of my own DNA – and made me a better professional, and, yes, person.
So...thank you Deloitte...and thank you to those I have had the privilege to work with and for over the years. Mentors, colleagues, clients, and friends - you each have in some way affected me and remain with me to this day.
On a more personal level, I wish all a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving and holiday season – one of warmth, joy and love. And given the recent global events, one of peace.
|Posted on November 17, 2015 at 1:50 PM|
During my 38-year career at Deloitte, it was always comforting to know that I was never professionally on my own. Whether I needed advice and/or a consultation on technical or auditing matters, or a subject matter expert to assist me in hashing out (and sometimes identifying) issues, I knew that someone had the experience and knowledge to assist me in coming to the right conclusions. It was also a message sent from the first day to the audit staff – consult, consult, consult. There was no need or reason to go it alone…to be the Lone Ranger.
Why am I posting this? Well, I am pleased to announce that I have entered into a strategic relationship with Risk Masters International LLC (RMI). Consisting of a team of highly experienced IT professionals, RMI is one of the foremost providers of information technology and security services such as IT disaster recovery planning, business continuity management, information security, risk and crisis management, and IT infrastructure assurance.
Founded by former Deloitte IT professionals, they have a strong track record of providing their clients with IT security and recovery solutions. Personally, I worked with their executive principal, Steve Ross, whilst at Deloitte and I am thrilled that he and I agree that there are many synergies between our respective practices and services -- opportunities for us to provide our clients with a broader array of consultative services. (Check out RMI’s website.)
From my perspective, when performing M&A due diligence services, I now have trusted IT security experts to call on to identify and assess that critical risk. I can also envision this expertise being a key component of IPO readiness assessment and execution. And finally, this is an area of incredible focus by boards and other governance functions in an organization – whether public or private – and has been a significant focus of regulators. (See, for example, the SEC September 2105 action against an investment adviser for failing to adopt proper cybersecurity policies and procedures prior to a breach, at www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/2015/ia-4204.pdf.)
As Rick said to Louis in the closing scene of Casablanca, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." “Retirement” just keeps getting more and more exciting.
|Posted on November 14, 2015 at 5:40 PM||comments (7979)|
Richard Leblanc of Boards & Advisors found and posted an academic article on LinkedIn, “Professors in the Boardroom and Their Impact on Corporate Governance and Firm Performance,” by Bill Francis, Iftekhar Hasan and Qiang Wu (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2676983). The authors’ research question was essentially whether having professors on a corporate board would enhance the performance of the board and hence the company. Specifically, they concluded that “the presence of academic directors is associated with higher acquisition performance, higher number of patents and citations, higher stock price informativeness, lower discretionary accruals, lower CEO compensation, and higher CEO forced turnover-performance sensitivity.”
In reading the article, it struck me that there are actually broader considerations at play here. This research is, above all else, a study resulting from the call for greater board diversity. The premise is that the skillsets and thought processes of professors positively add to board dynamics and discussions. Inherent in that consideration is that they bring a new dimension to the process – one free of past biases and groupthink tendencies. This same argument can be made as regards other groups (ethnic, gender, cultural, geographic, etc.).
Intuitively, I think most of us agree that having differing viewpoints and perspectives makes for more dynamic, broader and fruitful discussions and better conclusions. I often thought during my days at Deloitte that when we brought into a room a group of professionals with different perspectives honed by experience, training, culture and background, we would generally come to the right, correct decision – regardless of the issue at hand. This is quite similar, albeit focusing on the contributions of a different group.
As the board diversity discussion (and imperative) proceeds and matures, intuitive, legal and ethical considerations will be supplemented (and driven) by academic research. While correlation and causality in research will always be an issue, and must be carefully analyzed in reaching supportable conclusions, adding research to intuition cannot be a bad thing.
|Posted on November 1, 2015 at 6:45 PM||comments (3201)|
Watching 50,000+ runners at the start of today’s New York City Marathon, it struck me how many times I (and probably many others) use the expression, “life is a marathon, not a sprint.” In most cases we use it in a temporal sense. We are cautioning someone (usually younger than we) to focus on longer-term goals rather than just short-term ones.
As is the case with most clichés, there is truth to that philosophy. There are often tradeoffs between achieving longer-term goals and achieving short-term goals. (This an issue in board governance for example.) It is often also stated as “keeping your eye on the prize.” But there is another way to look at the marathon vs. sprint metaphor. I am not a runner and never have been. But I have noted certain characteristics of my friends and colleagues who are – especially those who have run the longer races. There is a grit and determination to succeed, e.g., to finish the race. They wake up early and train regardless of the weather or how they might feel on a given day. Their effort can be defined as an aggregation of many steps and strides.
Thus, in reassessing the use of the saying, I have come to realize that the metaphor of running a marathon can also be used to characterize the effort and determination, rather than just the distance run or the time involved. Succeeding at work, making partner in a professional services firm, or successfully completing a long, complex consulting project all require not only time and patience, but also a prolonged and continuous effort at the highest levels of quality and performance.
So, congratulations to all the participants and the over 50,000 finishers (estimated) – those in the “elite” group and all others, some of whom are still running and/or competing many hours after the winners have crossed the finish line. Yours was a worthy effort and indicative of the drive and determination not only necessary to finish the 26.2 mile course but also to succeed in whatever endeavors or careers you engage in.
Yes, life (and a career) IS a marathon (literally for some today). On to the next challenges - mine is making a success (with your help) of my new firm.
|Posted on September 22, 2015 at 9:30 AM||comments (57)|
With great pride, I am pleased to announce the official formation of HMC Business Consulting, LLC. Building on the experience I have gained from my 38 years at Deloitte, I now have my own firm to serve clients - old and new. This is the vehicle for the services I will be providing relating to financial accounting and reporting (including IPO readiness), internal controls, financial due diligence for M&A deals, and litigation and dispute resolution. I will also continue teaching as an adjunct professor at St. John’s University and adjunct instructor at New York University.
This is an exciting time for me, filled with anticipation, and, yes, a bit of trepidation. I have been a "big company" guy all my career, working in and being a member of Deloitte, one of the world's largest professional services firms - a firm that taught me so much professionally and personally. I will miss the infrastructure that a larger entity provides, but having my own firm will present me with a new and exciting world of opportunities and experiences.
I am looking forward to this new stage of my professional career with great excitement and anticipation. Please contact me if I may be of service to you or your colleagues.
|Posted on September 13, 2015 at 10:45 AM|
Today, September 13, marks the birthday of a man who changed my life. Now deceased, Jim Craft was a partner in Deloitte. I started working for him as a senior accountant in 1981 and continued to do so up until and even after I was admitted to the partnership in 1988. Jim became more than a supervisor. He was a mentor ("rabbi"), teacher and friend. Heidi (my wife), Jim and I transcended a mere work relationship, often traveling to Europe together, combining client meetings with personal excursions. I know that Heidi adored him.
Jim was a sweet, gentle man with an unbelievably big heart and intellect. The list of those whose careers he positively affected is long. I know that I would not have accomplished professionally what I have been able to without his guidance and friendship. One of the many lessons I learned from him, and still practice to this day, is client service - what is required to serve one's clients in an ethical, professional and dedicated manner.
I think about him almost daily, even after my retirement. Jim, you trained me well; I hope I have made you, will continue to make you, proud. Heidi and I miss you.