A new Lower Manhattan headquarters location not only has accommodated expansion, but has brought a cool new feel to Friedman LLP, the award-winning accounting and advisory firm.
The Mann Report sat with Friedman’s co-managing partner, Harriet Greenberg, and partner Michael Sacco to learn how the firm’s recent move from its longtime location in Midtown resulted in a new space that promotes individuality and cross-collaboration as the firm continues to expand its services and industries.
“From the beginning, the move has been all about making our employees happy. Beyond needing more room to house our growing staff, I knew it was important to create an office where our employees would be excited to work in every day,” said Greenberg. “I wanted them to be invested in every aspect of the move. Once we narrowed our options to two locations, I invited them to visit and vote on their favorite space.”
The office space in Lower Manhattan won the majority vote — especially appealing to the firm’s young associates who wanted to be in a location with more entertainment, restaurant and nightlife options.
Working with Newmark Knight and Frank, Friedman found a column-free, 47,000-square-foot space on the 21st floor of 1 Liberty Plaza, at 165 Broadway. The new office is in the heart of several transportation hubs, including the Fulton Center subway station and the World Trade Center PATH station, and with access to various ferries. In addition to its convenient location, the office now houses all New York employees on a single floor. Previously, Friedman had 39,000 square feet on three floors, which made interaction a bit more deliberate.
“On separate floors, it’s so easy to be out of sight, out of mind,” said Sacco. “In the few months since our move, I’ve noticed a natural shift in the way people do business — fewer phone calls and more in-person conversations. It really strengthens workplace relationships.”
Greenberg worked with Michael Kleinberg and his team at MKDA as well as Michael Gallin at Gallin Construction, to create an office space that feels more like a tech company than a 95-year-old accounting firm. The new space is flooded with natural light and boasts a panoramic view of the city, large open areas and bright colors. A 1,800-square-foot employee café, breakout rooms and communal spaces allow people to talk, work or reflect — and, yes, there is foosball. All offices are the same size, regardless of professional level, and boast glass fronts that encourage transparency and openness across the firm. Recruiters have reported that the space has made Friedman more appealing to potential hires, especially critical at a time of intense growth.
The mid-sized firm prides itself on offering the staff and resources of a large firm, but with the personal touch of a boutique. Friedman’s industry-focused practice features concentrated areas of expertise and understanding of the economic environment. Clients benefit from hands-on contact at the partner level, cutting-edge technical expertise and an understanding of their industry and their business. The firm’s ever-expanding offerings include accounting, tax and advisory services across an array of specializations including real estate, retail, nonprofit and more.
Friedman has grown its staff by 20% in the last year, and the firm has created new practices including cryptocurrency and cybersecurity to keep clients at the forefront of trends.
“Recognizing that blockchain will dramatically change how business is done, we’ve developed proprietary software to determine what’s in the blockchain,” Greenberg said. “This will have big consequences. Also, our new cybersecurity practice allows us to offer 24-hour monitoring to recognize threats. That’s a huge area of growth.”
“From the beginning, the move has been all about making our employees happy. Beyond needing more room to house our growing staff, I knew it was important to create an office where our employees would be excited to work in every day.” — Harriet Greenberg
While keeping its core values of personal service intact, Friedman isn’t the same firm that it was even two years ago, the two said.
“We’re a solutions-driven company. Trying to figure out what the next issues are is what keeps me up at night. Two years ago, we weren’t hiring technology experts,” Greenberg said. “Now we look for people with tech backgrounds. We change every day, because our clients are changing every day.”
Another benefit of a beautiful and inviting office space is that clients look forward to in-person meetings with advisors who help them navigate a changing environment, Sacco observed. Beyond in-person meetings, the firm supports clients by delivering regular thought leadership through blogs, videos, webinars and social media outreach.
But nothing tops being able to call an expert.
“Clients are continuously reaching out to us to advise them on industry trends,” Sacco continued. “We’ve been dealing with questions regarding tariffs, financing and customer credit. They like the personal service.”
Key elements of the new office layout will be replicated at Friedman’s other offices, including the Marlton, New Jersey office, which is moving this month.
“Our office represents our firm culture – we’re people-centric,” Greenberg said. “Whether we’re interacting with employees or clients, we live up to our corporate culture: We deliver excellent service with happy people.”