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In his role as UHY Advisors, US, CEO and chairman, Steve McCarty has pioneered innovations so significant that they might have earned him a chance to sit back and watch his legacy unfold – but his impulse to find new ways to serve clients and colleagues is as dynamic as ever.
Service has always been a theme in Steve’s family. Growing up in Detroit with seven older brothers, his father Robert was a police officer who had enlisted in the Second World War when he was 15. His mother Jean managed the family chequebook. “She’s the one who taught me dollars and cents,” says Steve.
Steve wanted to join the police department but his father dissuaded him, and as three of his brothers went into accountancy it seemed like a better pathway. “My brother advised me to stay in public accounting and become a partner. Danny was my mentor and driving force.”
Paying his way through college, Steve got a job at a hospital, where he learned the nuts and bolts of accounting. He and a friend also set up a bookkeeping business, quickly realising a desire to help businesses achieve their goals. With his aim to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) he joined the tax team at UHY in Sterling Heights, Michigan in 1992, working for Dennis Petri (partner, UHY LLP and managing director, UHY Advisors, Inc.).
“I wanted to stand out in a firm of smart people so I took the Certified Managerial Accountant exam,” says Steve. “This made me think about providing cost accounting services to clients, working with manufacturers to look into the engine of their operation to determine every cost, where they make money and what needs to change. I love walking the shop floor of a client business, I’m more at home there than in the boardroom. That’s where you find the information to help them flourish.”
Steve moved into audit and continued to deliver on UHY Advisors’ Next Level of Service commitment. He became partner in 2004 and his interest in transactions was solidifying into a business plan, first for a National Transaction Team and then for Corporate Finance.
“I love to challenge clients to achieve their goals. Advisors can get stuck just providing compliance services but at UHY our culture is to lean in and get involved. We think of ourselves as a full-service firm, offering everything the dynamic middle market client needs.”
Helping clients to flourish
Creating UHY’s Corporate Finance team is one of a long list of Steve’s innovations since joining over 30 years ago. “Transactions are challenging, people need informed advice. We help clients think about business structure, working capital, employment agreements, succession plans.”
The Corporate Finance success earned Steve a place on the UHY Advisors' board and in 2019 he became CEO and chairman. When Covid struck, the team quickly focused on colleagues and clients. “We were worried but we agreed that we were going to grow and take care of our people and help our clients survive. I would say it shaped the firm’s legacy and maybe helped me be a better leader, understanding where it is important to take risks.”
Clients across borders
Steve is an enthusiastic participant in UHY’s global network activities and a strong advocate of the power of international collaboration. “Regular meetings with our international colleagues are the mark of a healthy network and we all want each other to win,” he says.
“Through UHY I have met some of the most fascinating and caring people. We feel like an international family as opposed to just a business network. We care about each other, our firms and our clients.”
Since becoming CEO Steve has presided over substantial growth and a doubling of UHY’s offering. UHY was named one of the Fastest Growing Firms in the US 2023 by Accounting Today magazine1 with 38.78% growth, the highest ranking it has ever achieved on that list.
That success, says Steve, boils down to people – and according to him, his team should enjoy the same regard as clients. “I lead from the front and would not ask a colleague to do something I would not do. I am a mentor, entrepreneur, advocate and I lead with gratitude.”
Heart and home
Steve is proud of his Irish heritage and honoured to be named in Irish America magazine’s Business 100 Hall of Fame in 2018. “Growing up one of eight sons made me very family focused,” he says.
His own family are smaller but close – he and his wife Kristen celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2023 and they have two daughters, Megan, who works in cybersecurity and Jenna who is studying computer engineering.
Outside work Steve unwinds by boxing, and over the years has run many charity events. One that is close to his heart honours his brother who encouraged him to become a public accountant all those years ago. Danny (pictured below) sadly died of lupus aged just 40. “I am proud of the fundraiser I put on every year for the Lupus Foundation. We have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in Danny’s memory.”
As he looks to the future, Steve reflects: “Together we are stronger and the best is yet to come. I am so grateful.” Apart from Danny, he knows who he owes his gratitude to – his biggest hero. “My Dad. I think he would be proud.”
Gratitude and legacy
It may not be an obvious management buzzword, but gratitude is a guiding principle for Steve. “The Next Level of Service applies to our people as well as our clients. We expect a lot from our professionals and we should not only be grateful but express gratitude, often.”
Legacy is also a priority, and spurred Steve to launch UHY Advisors’ Emerging Leader programme in 2021. It remains one of his proudest achievements. “What excites me about our profession is that anyone can become a partner at UHY without waiting for someone to retire. Be an entrepreneur and UHY will change your life.”
Asked what ambitions he still has, Steve says: “Making UHY the best firm possible and leaving a lasting legacy. I hope to write a book about deals I have participated in, partners that influenced me, and how we can make public accounting fun again!”
In an uncertain economic environment is this possible? “Of course! It is a tough business getting tougher every day but we are not pencil pushers, we are badass CPAs and consultants! We can establish accounting at UHY as one of the most attractive career paths out there. I want our colleagues to embrace our firm, and together we will create a career and life full of incredible opportunity.”
Reflecting the positive outcomes of all his hard work, Steve was recently named one of the top 10 Elite Managing Partners of CPA firms in the USA.
Read more stories in Issue 17 of the UHY Global Magazine published by UHY International.
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