Wilson Lewis is not like other accounting firms. And that’s by design.
When Lennie Wilson and Angela Lewis started Wilson Lewis,they wanted to create a CPA firm that looked and felt different. When they first opened their doors in Gwinnett County back in 1999, they knew that the firm’s culture was going to be the key to its success.
They were right. Almost two decades later, the firm has grown and thrived thanks in large part to that culture. With over 30 staff members and two offices, located in Duluth and Atlanta, the firm doesn’t feel much different from those early days and that is intentional. It’s a big part of why many of the clients who made that initial move with them from a larger practice in Dunwoody remain with Wilson Lewis today.
From day one, Wilson Lewis emphasized and understood the importance of relationships.
As they approach their twentieth anniversary, partners Lewis, Josh Crisp and Erin Carter had the perfect opportunity to reflect on the goals and values that shape the firm – then and now.
From the beginning, providing a different type of firm meant — first and foremost — service built on communication. “We want our clients to understand how important they are to us,” says Crisp.
“The relationship always comes first,” says Lewis. “You’re not a number.” The firm takes pride in offering a wide range of expertise in accounting and advisory services that provide a more personal feel.
“At the core, we often become an extension of the client’s team,” says Crisp. “Our goal is to build a level of trust that allows for candid discussions about important decisions they may face.”
No matter the size of the client, the team at Wilson Lewis understands that trust and accessibility is a key component of the relationship. “We’re always available,” adds Carter. “We are not 9-to-5 people.”
“Accounting is a deadline-driven business, and that often creates stress on our clients,” says Crisp. “I think one of the things we do best is to talk clients through it all and put their minds at ease. We try to educate our clients so that they can make informed decisions.”
“We are very planning-oriented. We don’t like for our clients to be in the dark about where they are at any point,” adds Crisp.
The firm has grown significantly over the years, very often by referrals from current clients who appreciate that planning-centric approach. Crisp attributes much of their success to listening. “I think one of the big reasons we’re successful is because we listen. Listening is a lost art in our profession.”
“Our goal – when working with any client– is to offer knowledgeable and insightful advice, personal attention, and a plan to protect and grow their future,” says Lewis. “You can’t do that if you aren’t listening.”
‘WE TREAT OUR EMPLOYEES RIGHT …AND OUR CLIENTS BENEFIT’
Another important Wilson Lewis difference, says Carter, is the focus on their employees. “We not only care a lot about our clients, we care a lot about our employees and they appreciate that,” she explains.
The firm has always realized the value of continuity in client relationships. Keeping employees happy is critical to that continuity. To that end, employees are treated like family.
“We are kid-friendly, dog-friendly, family-friendly, and very flexible,” says Crisp. “We value that our employees have a life outside of this firm.”
“It all works hand in hand. Our employees don’t leave because we take such good care of them and that’s why we’re able to provide such great client service,” adds Carter.
“We have a great group of people. We work really hard, but one of the things we always say is we have fun here. We enjoy each other, and that engagement, energy and enthusiasm carries over to our clients,” says Lewis.
WHAT’S A GLASS CEILING?
Right away you will notice something else that differentiates Wilson Lewis from a lot of other CPA firms. “Take a look around and it is obvious there are no glass ceilings here and that is reflected in the culture,” Carter states enthusiastically.
All three partners agree this has given the firm some competitive advantages along the way. Lewis adds, “Early on, we did a lot of marketing to women as a woman-owned business and that message resonates.”
“Success in this profession requires specific traits. It requires attention to detail, it requires prompt response, and it requires having empathy,” says Crisp. “Those traits are a part of our culture in large part due to the make-up of our partner group.”
POURING PASSION BACK INTO THE COMMUNITY
The team at Wilson Lewis balances their commitment to their work with strong community involvement. “We want to be proactively involved in a number of things we are passionate about,” says Lewis.
“We have a lot of non-profit clients, and we are quite often involved in helping further their causes in a number of ways,” says Carter. “Rainbow Village here in Gwinnett is one of them, and we participate in and attend a number of their fundraising events throughout the year.”
“Then there’s the Nsoro Foundation, which we’ve supported for years,” says Lewis. “It was started by a client of ours. It’s a great foundation that raises money to help kids who have aged out of foster care go to college.”
The Wilson Lewis team also supports Rise Against Hunger, Passion for Paws, Releash, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the American Cancer Society, and the Cink Charities, just to name a few.
The firm’s services include tax planning and compliance, accounting, advisory, audit and assurance, and retirement planning services. They are a full-service accounting firm, serving clients in a wide range of industries including real estate, construction, technology, healthcare, attorneys, sports and entertainment, manufacturing, retail, non-profits, auto dealers and more.