Partner Spotlight: Hood & Strong

Founded in 1917, Hood & Strong LLP is one of Northern California’s oldest, largest and most respected public accounting firms, providing audit, business advisory, tax, and information technology services to nonprofit organizations and privately held businesses throughout the United States. The firm is celebrating its centennial anniversary this year with a unique year-long celebration.

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Managing Partner Robert Raffo is ready to celebrate. The Firm will host a party in honor of other centenarian companies on February 8.

Why is 2017 a monumental year for Hood & Strong?
This year marks our 100th year in business – right here in San Francisco! It’s a milestone that makes us very proud of remaining fiercely independent, while serving a loyal group of clients, some of whom, like Guittard Chocolate and Adhesive Products, Inc., have been with us for nearly a century. While we’ve always had our headquarters in San Francisco, over the years we’ve expanded to the Peninsula, San Jose, and now the North Bay as well. We’ve kept pace with our clients’ needs for convenience, access, and the latest interpretations of accounting and financial rules, while never forgetting what got us here: loyalty to employees, clients and community.

How are you celebrating?
Our employees have set the tone and the agenda for our year-long celebration. On February 8, we’re hosting a party at the Italian Athletic Club, also a 100-year-old enterprise, for our fellow centenarian companies, along with clients, colleagues, and community leaders. There are more than 150 San Francisco Bay Area companies that have been in business as long as we have, if not longer, and we think it’s important to recognize them for the role they also have played in developing San Francisco into what it is today – the cultural, commercial and financial center of the West.

Over the next year, our employees also will be delivering 100 Acts of Kindness to Bay Area nonprofits. Our first act has been the delivery of food to the San Francisco Food Bank. And, we try not to take ourselves too seriously: we have an internal committee focused on designing 100th anniversary apparel and there is a firm-wide scavenger hunt planned for later in the year.

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An eye on the bottom line – founders Walter Hood & Addison Strong. When the firm started the billing rate for partners was $20 per day. Staff was $1 per hour. After World War II the rates jumped to $75 a day for partners and $6 per hour for staff.

What is the history of Hood & Strong?
Hood & Strong opened for business in 1917, at 625 Market Street, right across from the Palace Hotel. Walter Hood & Addison Strong started the firm to serve the financial needs of growing San Francisco businesses and individuals, many of whom were not being served by the major firms at the time. In the early years, Hood & Strong’s client list was a who’s who of San Francisco businesses and pioneering families, including Levi Strauss, Wells Fargo, MJB Coffee, H.S. Crocker, and Dean Witter. We’ve been with our clients, and they with us, through two World Wars, earthquakes, economic booms and busts, the Summer of Love, the birth of the Internet, and now social media and cybersecurity issues.

What is the secret to the firm’s longevity?
While we are immensely proud of our heritage, we’ve learned to embrace change and adapt to new ways of doing business, new industries and an ever-changing workforce. We were one of the first firms to embrace South of Market as the new business hub, with a move to Spear Street and then to First and Mission. We had an office on Sand Hill Road, during the very early days of Venture Capital, and we were one of the first firms nationally to recognize the unique accounting needs of the nonprofit sector, which continues to be a large and important part of our practice, in addition to our commercial work.

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Hood & Strong’s heart has been in San Francisco since 1917. Above, part of the Firm’s extensive art collection.

Your tagline is Artfully Balanced. What does that mean?
While the past few decades have brought many changes to the profile of our clients and businesses in general, our commitment to our clients, employees and community has never wavered, an approach we like to characterize as artfully balanced. While this inspiration comes from our extensive in-house collection of fine art, photography, and arts and crafts, its day-to-day application is based on our belief that each client’s needs must be artfully and carefully balanced with our core values of exceptional service, backed by the most up-to-date industry knowledge and technology platforms.

Most important, however, are the people who bring our artfully balanced philosophy to life – the partners, directors, managers, and staff of Hood & Strong. The firm remains committed to and invested in each person’s career growth, and we take pride in the recognition we’ve earned for our commitment to diversity and to fostering a workplace culture that enables women to succeed and advance their careers. We’re proud of the fact that 79 percent of our partners and senior management are women and/or minorities.

How are you preparing for the next 100 years?
Carefully! We’re investing in our people and their professional development. The workforce as we know it is changing. According to a recent Brookings study, Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, which means that a group of employees with different values and work styles than those that we are accustomed to today will soon be in leadership roles. We are working to enhance employee engagement and retention by offering a collaborative, flexible environment and a strong work-life balance. While I won’t be around, with the advances in science and medicine, some of our current employees just might see our 200th anniversary. Now, that will be a party!