Sponsored Content: A New Chapter Unfolds: Laura Sprouse to Assume the Role of CEO at Brown Edwards

A New Chapter Unfolds: Laura Sprouse to Assume the Role of CEO at Brown Edwards

Enter Laura Sprouse, Brown Edwards’ newly appointed CEO. With a steadfast commitment to quality and a vision for growth, Laura begins a new chapter in her and the firm’s story as she takes the reigns of one of the largest accounting firms based in Virginia. Her vision for Brown Edwards (BE) centers around the need to continually improve both the client and employee experience. As the industry continues to face shortages of qualified accountants, consolidations, and disruptions by non-accounting players (private equity), Laura believes that the best path to maintaining BE’s independence is through growth, innovation, and the relentless pursuit of progress for both employees and clients.

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BE (Brown Edwards) is a nationally ranked accounting firm that offers clients accessibility and guidance often associated with a local firm. With more than 450 professionals across a dozen locations in the Mid-Atlantic, it is one of the largest independent CPA firms in the region.

Laura has been with BE for 25 years and led the firm’s accounting information systems group before serving as the Firm’s COO (Chief Operations Officer) over the last eight years. During that time, she activated the firm’s adoption of LEAN process methods and has been integral in the blending of the cultures and processes of 8 different accounting firms that BE has acquired, most recently Mitchell Wiggins in the Richmond Metro market. She is eager to build upon this recent growth by acquisition, earning the #72 spot on the most recent IPA (Inside Public Accounting) Top 100 list and a spot on the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies in 2021 with both future acquisitions and organic growth through expansion of services to existing and new clients. But even with that rapid growth focus, Laura has always kept an eye on the importance of people; BE’s staff, clients, and communities. 

A Continued Focus on the Employee Experience

Attracting and retaining top talent is not just a challenge for BE but a challenge that reverberates across the industry. Laura notes, “A positive employee experience is not just a luxury but a strategic imperative. We foster a culture of excellence, innovation, and collaboration by prioritizing our team members’ well-being, growth, and engagement.” Laura has been an advocate for BE’s valued professionals. Her efforts and support have led to the implementation of benefits such as a flexible PTO plan, an employee wellness program that provides access to over 1,200 high quality, expert-led fitness, nutrition, and mindfulness classes, paid primary and secondary caregiver leave, a work buddy mentoring program, reward and recognition programs, and continual training programs for everyone in the firm. As Laura takes on her new role, continuing to focus on culture building and providing an industry-leading employee experience is a top priority. 

An Enhanced Client-Centric Approach

In today’s dynamic landscape, the average client seeks more meaningful partnerships grounded in trust, innovation, and personalized attention. This is an area where the firm shines, proven by the results of its most recent client satisfaction survey, where BE’s score earned it the distinction of being named a Best of Accounting Award winner by Clearly Rated, a top provider of client satisfaction surveys for the accounting industry. Laura’s vision for BE is to become more client-centered through regular, proactive communication and providing new service offerings to our clientele. “We want our clients to think of us for all their business needs. We are more than just a tax and an audit shop. We provide outsourced accounting for businesses, wealth management services, real estate title services, and specialty advisory services. And as we advance, we will look for other service offerings that will let us serve all our clients better,” says Laura. 

Remaining Steadfast in Independence 

At a time when many accounting firms are succumbing to private equity, Laura affirms she and BE’s leadership stand strong in their commitment to maintaining its independence. She believes there is a place for a wide variety of ownership structures within the industry, and each one brings its advantages. BE’s local partner ownership model ensures it stays committed to clients in local markets. By remaining independent, BE will be able to provide exceptional, accessible service and partner advisory expertise to its core clients; privately held businesses and institutions.

A Continued Focus on Growth

While BE will continue to serve its core, local clientele, Laura plans to take the expertise offered to some of their specialty clients nationally. Private colleges and universities, construction, financial institutions, and employee benefit plan audits are specialty areas that lend themselves to a broader scope of market opportunities. She notes, “Focusing on specialties allows our teams to cultivate a deeper bench of professionals and greater expertise. It helps us tailor our products and services to meet the unique demands of those client bases. As shown by our inclusion in Construction Executive Magazine’s list of the nation’s Top 50 Construction Accounting Firms, our firm has the scale and resources to service clients beyond our normal geography. I am eager to earn similar distinctions for our other primary lines of expertise that will enhance our opportunities for growth in these industries.”     

Innovative Technology

Laura understands the need to embrace technology to remain competitive in today’s digital era. However, one of her biggest concerns is ensuring the firm balances the use of the right technology with the adoption of the latest offerings. In Laura’s view, the use of technology is a necessity to reduce redundancies and limit manual work. She is a firm believer that technology should allow us to work smarter and not harder, especially now with the advent of AI. The firms that identify how to incorporate its tech stack into its client and employee experience in a more effective and efficient manner will be the firms that earn the right to succeed in the foreseeable future.

Focusing on growth while enhancing both the employee and client experience, adopting the right technologies to do so, Laura is eager and ready to take on her new role as CEO of Brown Edwards. Her determination and vision lay the groundwork for what is sure to be an ever evolving and successful accounting firm, despite the many challenges the industry faces.

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