CARL GEORGE, CPA, CGMA
"As a consultant, I want to share my experiences, best practices and lessons learned with other professional service firms. With Carl George Advisory, I have the opportunity to help clients solve problems, pursue opportunities and chart the future of their organizations."
Carl George originally wanted to play for the New York Yankees. But life had different plans, and the accounting and advisory profession is better off for it.
Carl started work right out of college in 1971 at Clifton Gunderson, which was one of the most reputable firms in Illinois. Little did he know at the time that this was where he’d stay for his entire public accounting career. He retired from the accounting firm in 2012 after rising through the ranks and serving 16 years as CEO.
When Carl started at Clifton Gunderson, the office had about $200,000 in revenue. After just three years, he was put in charge of the office and was determined to grow the firm, both internally and through successful mergers and acquisitions. Within six years, the office hit $4 million through acquisitions of the three most prominent and largest firms in the local market. That same year, Carl was admitted as a partner and in 1980, the Clifton Gunderson board promoted him to Chief Operating Officer, where he led practice management, was in charge of firm operations, and continued to prevail in the mergers and acquisitions market. He became CEO in 1993, and at that time, Clifton Gunderson was a $50 million firm. During his time as CEO, he successfully lead and grew the firm to $250 million.
His largest and final merger for the firm he was part of was the largest non-Big 4 merger at that time with Larson Allen. The successful combined firm is now the No. 8 firm in the country – CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA).
Carl is a master at negotiating and deal structuring. His self-prescribed hidden talent is reading people, their “tells” and their nuances.
Carl, who has been recognized numerous times as one of Accounting Today’s “Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting,” always enjoyed assisting other firms by facilitating retreats for strategic planning, creating succession plans, navigating partner conflict and compensation disputes, coaching the next generation of partners and assisting leaders with the merger and acquisition process. So it was no surprise that, upon retiring from CLA, he formed Carl George Advisory in 2013, with a primary focus on doing just that: advising with professional service firms in the practice management areas he knows best.
His involvement with the accounting and advisory industry extends well beyond his work with Clifton Gunderson and CLA, helping shape many industry initiatives during his decades-long career. Carl’s work with the AICPA includes having served as a board member; member of the Future Issues and Strategic Planning committees; and past chair of the Major Firms Group and the Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) Committee. The AICPA presented him with its Special Recognition Award for its Financial Literacy Initiative in 2007.
He also served as past chair of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission and was named to the Advisory Board Hall of Fame in 2009. He continues to remain active with the Illinois and Indiana CPA societies.
Carl earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in management from Ball State University, where he continues to give back, serving on the College of Business’ Advisory Board. He also established a scholarship for the accounting department 20 years ago, which he continues to personally fund. His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, as he received Ball State’s Department of Accounting Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. The Miller College of Business also placed him in its Hall of Fame in 2007 and presented him with its Alumni Award of Distinction in 2004.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Carl…
- While he loves coffee Heath bar crunch and pralines and cream ice cream, his favorite dessert is his grandmother’s coconut cream pie.
- Carl would have loved for Matt Damon or Ben Affleck to star in a movie about his life (assuming they would have accepted!)
- Carl loves reading biographies, which explains why his favorite author is two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough.
- While he loves almost all vegetables, he will take a pass on green beans.
- Carl’s favorite color is Navy Blue.
When You Work With Carl, Make Sure to Ask Him:
- Who’s his favorite superhero.
- What were his favorite classes in school?
- How would he entertain the audience at a talent show?
- If he’s a better singer or dancer.