Baker Tilly acquisition bulks up its offerings for local governments

Baker Tilly US LLP will acquire the local government consulting firm Management Partners to supplement the range of services its already brings to the table in its public sector practice.

Chicago-based Baker Tilly and Cincinnati-based Management Partners will close on the acquisition Oct. 1. All 96 of the firm’s professionals — most who count local government management positions on their resumes — will join Baker Tilly, which already offers a range of services as both an accounting firm and registered municipal advisor.

“There is some overlap to some of the services we provide and through the years Management Partners has been a formidable competitor of ours in certain spaces,” said Vicki Hellenbrand, managing partner and public sector practice leader at Baker Tilly. “But they do some services we don’t currently provide and they also have this depth of resources of people who have walked the life of a community development director or police chief and that’s really important because local governments are really unique.”

Management Partners doesn’t have registered municipal advisors among its ranks, but its management consulting services include financial planning, crafting 10-year financial forecasts, capital planning, and other work that often falls under the umbrella of municipal advisory work.

The 10-year forecast was developed while the firm was working on the Stockton, California, bankruptcy. The firm also worked with Vallejo and San Bernardino on their bankruptcies.

“Our mission is to help local government leaders and we do that soup-to-nuts,” said the firm’s founder and president, Jerry Newfarmer.

Management Partners works with city, county and special districts to improve operations with strategic planning, process improvement, organization analysis, financial analysis, executive recruitment, interim management, coaching, training and other services. It counts clients in more than 40 states with its primary operations in California and Ohio.

Baker Tilly’s public sector practice employs more than 400 professionals that provide financial, operational, risk, human capital, executive recruitment and compliance services for governments, schools, not-for-profits, and utilities.

Hellenbrand and Newfarmer see their partnership as enhancing services for local governments navigating new challenges added to longstanding ones.

Local governments are still in the midst of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, must manage federal relief spending and budgets in the coming years no longer propped up by that aid, and are facing greater social and environmental demands as well as a possible economic downturn.

Newfarmer founded the firm in 1993 after a long career in government serving as the city manager of Cincinnati and the California cities of Fresno and San Jose.

“What I saw in the marketplace was a need for firm composed of people who walked in the shoes” of local government, whether it’s in the mayor’s office or police department, Newfarmer said.

Newfarmer wasn’t looking for a partner but discussions with a Baker Tilly professional he once tried to hire led to further talks with Baker Tilly leadership and the decision to fold the firm into Baker Tilly’s public sector practice. Newfarmer sees the acquisition as an opportunity to expand Management Partners’ breadth of services, footprint, and client base.

The firms declined to disclose the financial terms. Management Partners will temporarily maintain its name for the time being but eventually it will be dropped.

Hellenbrand said Baker Tilly continues to eye acquisitions and adding to its list of professionals. Former Wisconsin Capital Finance Director David Erdman joined Baker Tilly Municipal Advisors in July.

Baker Tilly, as Virchow, Krause & Co. until 2009, was started by Ed Virchow in Waterloo, Wisconsin, providing audits to canning companies. Its national presence as an accounting, consulting and advisory firm has grown through at least 40 mergers and acquisitions and hires that have given it an international footprint.