A lot has changed at Santa Barbara-based accounting firm Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf since it was founded 60 years ago, but the company’s underlying mission to demonstrate compassion for its employees, clients and community has endured the decades.
“It’s not the stereotype everyone has about the typical accountant with the green visor, adding up numbers,” said partner John Britton, who heads the firm’s audit department. Britton said the ability to interact with staff and clients is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.
“I just remember being 21 years old, fresh out of college, going into Stan Bartlett’s office to tell me about how to talk to clients,” said partner Elizabeth Boscacci, who has been with the company for more than three decades. He said, ‘Remember, you tell them you work with BPW, not for BPW.’ That stuck with me. We’re not employees. We’re a team here, with respect for wherever our responsibilities lay.”
That mentality has fostered a respectful and supportive work environment, said partner Danna McGrew. It is what forged her commitment to BPW and is the reason she worked for the firm up until the day before she gave birth to twins, she said.
“I feel like a lot of team members are given a lot of support and in return, they show a lot of dedication,” McGrew said.
McGrew, in turn, said she enjoys extending the same courtesies to her clients. “My favorite part of my job is working with my clients and helping them optimize their financial success,” she said. “I just enjoy the people aspect of working closely with a variety of clients and making a difference for them.”
Managing partner Scott Hadley favored similar responsibilities as related to his employees. “My favorite part is helping others succeed, and that’s my partners, employees, staff and clients. I … don’t have typical days – the ways I do that are varied.”
And the company’s focus on its people extends far beyond the office.
Founding partners Stan Bartlett and Phil Pringle stressed the importance of giving back to the community. Today, BPW continues that tradition through involvement with a range of community organizations.
“Our contribution is probably half in dollars and half in effort,” Hadley said.
BPW’s involvement with community activities includes sponsorship of the Amgen Tour, Old Spanish Days and Music Academy of the West as well as personal involvement in area organizations such as the Elings Park Foundation, the Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation and United Way.
What has changed
BPW started out in 1948 as Thomas R. Kruger, CPA. Bartlett’s name was added to the company three years later, and after Kruger passed away, it was later changed to Bartlett & Pringle.
The firm received its current name in 1963, when Walter Wolf was named a partner. BPW now serves about 2,000 clients. In addition to Hadley, Boscacci, McGrew and Britton, the current partners at BPW are Robert Maloy, Eileen Sheridan and Grace Shimotani Stalica.
Among the major changes seen over the years at BPW are tax regulations, technology, staff demographics and breadth of services.
The firm’s services have expanded to include a wealth management division called Mission Wealth Management; an Internet technology and information technology division, called Microsoft Business Solutions, that instructs clients to use accounting systems and other services; tax services; estate planning; litigation support; audit services; bookkeeping services and cost segregation.
“The rate of change in the tax profession with regulations and rules has just accelerated,” Boscacci said, noting that when she started, Financial Accounting Standards had reached Statement 13. Today, the standards have reached Statement 163. “It is a challenge to keep up with everything.”
Technology has advanced from “clunky, old adding machines,” Boscacci said, to one computer at the office to a computer and two monitors for each desk.
And in a male-dominated industry, half of BPW’s employees are female. Last year, the company named McGrew its fourth woman partner, tipping the scales to a female-heavy group of partners.
“We go to conferences and they talk a lot about how the accounting profession needs to wake up and [bring more women into the industry],” Hadley said. “We laugh because it’s been like that here for a long time.”