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To Improve Is to Change

Apr 10, 2018
Financial Institutions

To improve is to change.

– Winston S. Churchill

January 15, 1973, was my first day working in a bank. We didn’t have a proof machine, we didn’t have separate teller cash, and RESPA didn’t exist yet. The regulations were still in the single letters. There was no CRA. It was still legal to run “help wanted men” and “help wanted women” ads in the newspaper. I got married, our son and daughter were born, and after 11 years of very broad training in banking, including teller duties, lending, security, compliance, computer operations, and shoveling snow, I was hired as an external-internal auditor at Lindgren, Callihan, Van Osdol and Co. Ltd. (LCV). You see, long before the term “outsourced” was coined, LCV had identified a community bank need for independent internal auditors who did not work full-time at the bank. I helped develop our first internal audit program, and the firm’s entire banking practice was fewer than 20 banks. We subsequently added “EDP audits,” loan review, ACH audits, and BSA consultations on top of the directors’ exams and financial statement audits. The practice grew to over 100 banks. The number of regulations increased dramatically, and the number of people on the team hovered around five.

Sometime in there, I became a partner, and on October 1, 2010, LCV merged with Wipfli LLP. Today Wipfli has over 800 financial institution clients and nearly 2,000 employees and is among the 20 largest CPA firms in the United States. Wipfli’s compliance team alone has about 30 associates with combined years of industry experience of more than seven centuries.

There has been a lot of change in those 45 years. Car phones, bag phones, “phone bricks,” luggable computers with floppy disks, Lotus 1-2-3, the first laptops, mergers of accounting firms, mergers of banks. There is even a grandchild.

It is now time for my next change. But to paraphrase Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), “The report of my retirement is an exaggeration.” Retirement is some way off. For the next three years, I will remain at Wipfli but work fewer hours. I will still be available to answer client and coworker questions. I expect to do more public speaking, more article writing, and more research and spend more time visiting with clients. It will be a change for me, and it will be a change for the Wipfli compliance team. But as I said, they are a strong team with loads of experience.

Contact any of us. We understand change and look forward to more of it.


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