RubinBrown: Core Values, Our Moral Compass

RubinBrown's core values serve as the foundational basis of how the firm makes ever single decision - from selecting its clients to hiring talent.

RubinBrown: Core Values OUR MORAL COMPASS



INTRODUCTION THE FOUNDATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

CHAPTER 1 FROM THE BEGINNING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

CHAPTER 2 LIVING OUT THE CORE VALUES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

CHAPTER 3 HAVING FUN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

CHAPTER 4 A LIVING LEGACY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23



The Foundation

W hen you build a house, you do it from the bottom up. You start with the foundation, not the roof. RubinBrown’s core values serve as the foundational basis of how the firm makes every single decision – from selecting its clients to hiring

talent. The core values provide a set of behavioral guidelines not just for RubinBrown’s leaders and, in fact, all team members, but also for how it operates as a firm to the wider community. The core values represent the moral compass of RubinBrown and are prominently displayed in every workstation, every office and every conference room in each geographic location. The firm’s reputation depends on adherence to these core values.



Superior Quality & Service RubinBrown’s reputation for superior quality and service is a valuable asset that is entrusted with each team member and must be protected without compromise. The firm strives to build close personal relationships with all clients, creating lifelong bonds, never taking them for granted. All team members are committed to exceeding client expectations for service by holding themselves and their work to the highest standards. Devotion to the People of RubinBrown The people of RubinBrown are a diverse team. Trust, appreciation and respect for all team members is of utmost importance. Equally as important as team members’ commitment to the firm is the firm’s dedication to all team members. RubinBrown is devoted to maintaining a culture and environment that makes it a great place to work by providing team members with opportunities to do meaningful work. Teamwork Team members work in positive cooperation at all times for the benefit of clients and the firm. Growth, continuity and financial success of the firm is the result of team members working together to provide superior service while living out the mission and core values of the firm. Team members realize their individual goals through the success of the firm without putting their personal interests ahead of the interests of clients or the firm.


The Foundation

Objectivity & Integrity The best interest of the client is foremost in all that RubinBrown does. The firm will not diminish a client’s best interest by elevating its own. The people of RubinBrown live above reproach, maintaining the highest ethical standards in their professional and personal lives. Competence The firm recruits and retains the most talented people for every position and provides them with training opportunities to enable them to be the best that they can be. Likewise, all team members are expected to continuously strive for self-improvement; to learn and develop new skills. RubinBrown’s knowledge, industry specialization and technological competence is the foundation of providing superior service to clients. The firm is determined to achieve excellence in everything it undertakes. Devotion to Our Community & Profession RubinBrown encourages team members to use their time, talent and treasure to serve their communities and the profession by providing time to pursue such endeavors, as well as financial support.



Innovation & Continuous Improvement Leadership, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurism are fostered throughout the firm. Leadership encourages team members at all levels to make suggestions and provide feedback. The firm continuously strives for profitably-managed growth, providing advancement opportunities for team members. RubinBrown willingly accepts risks for the long-term growth and benefit of the firm. Likewise, weaknesses identified are appropriately eliminated with a sense of urgency. Vision RubinBrown constantly strives to understand the changing needs of its clients and strategically plans to meet those needs. The firm invests significant resources in the means that will benefit clients, team members and the firm. Having Fun RubinBrown’s culture inspires team members to do great work and to build personal relationships with one another, maintaining the loyalty, intimacy and a sense of belonging that contribute to the firm’s success. The firm expects team members to have positive attitudes and be enthusiastic. The firm also recognizes the importance of having fun and encourages team members to do so in an appropriate manner.

To understand how ingrained these core values are to the firm, we must go back to the beginning.


Chapter 1

From the Beginning

T he year was 2000. The setting for the annual Partner Retreat was tranquil and peaceful, at the small lake community of Innsbrook, less than an hour west of St. Louis. At that time, the firm was much smaller than it is today. RubinBrown had only one location, 212 team members and $22.5M in revenue. The firm made it through the Y2K craze and the partners were focused on the future of the firm and its growth. The discussion at the retreat was lively. The main challenge presented to the group during that weekend meeting was: How can we preserve RubinBrown’s culture as the firm grows? Developing guiding principles was a major focus of the retreat, along with growing the firm and recruiting talent. Using Goldman Sachs’ 14 guiding principles as an example, the partners decided to formalize the values by which the firm was already living.


RubinBrown: Core Values

From the get-go, the firm’s founders, Harvey Brown and Mahlon Rubin, actively personified the attributes of what we refer to today as the core values. Because the original partners had already established a strong culture and subsequent leaders continued on the same path, formalizing the values by which the firm had already been operating was an easy decision. “ The core values are the fabric of our firm, but the most important thing to remember is that these values were in place before they were formalized. ” Partner, 25+ years of service Without a doubt, there was a good amount of brainstorming and wordsmithing and passionate discussions. But the partners understood the significance of reflecting, in the core values, what made RubinBrown a special place. It would become vital not to lose any aspects of the firm’s character as plans for geographic expansion and growth unfolded. The 26 partners started the brainstorming session by breaking into four groups and identifying themes within the Goldman Sachs guiding principles that aligned with what was unique about RubinBrown’s culture, what made it special and what could help it develop and grow into the future. Unsurprisingly, the groups developed similar lists, including themes like integrity, fairness, striving for excellence, embracing innovation, investing in talent and teamwork.


From the Beginning

“ Because the culture of RubinBrown is so unique, we wanted to institutionalize it in the formalization of the core values, by trying to capture what makes us special. ” Partner, 25+ years of service Although the core values were not formalized in a particular priority order, most agree they all stem from the first two – to be successful, you must provide superior quality and service to clients and you must be devoted to team members.

“ The two most important attributes of our firm - and not necessarily in this order - are our clients and team members. Without those two assets, we wouldn’t be here today. ” Partner, 35+ years of service In the end, the core values came together fairly effortlessly, as they exhibited the principles from which the firm’s leadership was already operating and they served to formalize the uniqueness of the “RubinBrown experience.”



Chapter 2

Living Out the Core Values

“ The core values are our true north. ” Partner, 15+ years of service RubinBrown’s success at sustaining a one-firm culture since 1952 wouldn’t be possible without an unwavering spirit of teamwork. Here, no one is on an island. Unlike most firms that are silo-based, RubinBrown’s core values foster an environment of collaboration. “ We can get so much more accomplished when we work together. ” Manager, 5+ years of service To illustrate this spirit of teamwork, consider the partner who joined RubinBrown just before busy season and the hundreds of clients – and the client work – that followed him. There were delays in receiving client information from his previous firm, which resulted in a huge volume of returns coming in at the eleventh hour. This caused tremendous compression in getting the work complete. Team


RubinBrown: Core Values

members across each geographic location pitched in to help generously and without complaint in addition to staying on top of their existing client work. The effort clearly exhibited RubinBrown’s core value of teamwork, one-firm philosophy and its “being your best for others” culture. “ We’re focused on our clients…once you do that, everything else falls into place. ” Partner, 5+ years of service On each client engagement, the firm chooses the individuals who have the best skills for the work, regardless of where those resources come from – another office or another service line – what matters is the expertise RubinBrown brings to the table. The purpose is to provide each and every client with superior quality and service – core value #1.

“The essence of a well-functioning team is that each member understands and performs their specific function to the best of their ability, while trusting that other team members will do the same. From what l have seen, your firm can be justifiably proud, not only of your core competencies, but in the way you deliver actual service. Thanks for a job well done,” writes the controller at an educational institute in a team commendation letter.


Living Out the Core Values

It all starts with the “why.” RubinBrown’s “why” is about being our best for others, which is evident in the way the firm exhibits its commitment to its community and profession, its devotion to team members and the desire to provide clients with superior quality and service.

“ The core values are both internally and externally focused. They are just as much about our firm, our people and our growth as they are about our clients and our community...they encompass all of the pieces of who we want to be. ”

Partner, 15+ years of service Leaders at the firm apply the core values to every decision they make – whether it’s about growth and innovation, servicing clients, entering new markets and industries or inspiring team members. Pursuing innovation often involves risk, but it’s necessary to stay competitive, attract the best talent and expand services for clients. It’s for these reasons the firm hired a cyber security expert, creating a new line of business. As the practice


RubinBrown: Core Values

grew, clients sought out RubinBrown’s services to provide internal controls for financial reporting and perform vulnerability testing on their systems. Today the firm provides a wide range of IT risk services to clients in a variety of industries. In preparation for tomorrow, RubinBrown is beginning to explore artificial intelligence (AI) to stay at the forefront of meeting client needs in a modern age.

“ The core values are the bedrock principles of the firm. ”

Partner, 15+ years of service RubinBrown team members consider themselves fortunate to be part of a firm that demonstrates - on a daily basis - its devotion to its people, trusting that sound decisions are made based on time-tested principles and a willingness to put integrity above the bottom line. “ I wish I had found this place 25 years earlier. ” Partner, 10+ years of service SATELLITE OFFICE IN THE CORTEX INNOVATION DISTRICT


Living Out the Core Values

At RubinBrown, the core values are constantly talked about and referenced in many management and department meetings, Town Hall and Team Member Update. During new team member orientation, the Chairman sets expectations for every new hire by going through each core value. It becomes clear how team members are expected to behave: with integrity and objectivity, and above all else, always do the right thing. “ The core values keep me energized and focused on what really matters. ” Team member, 1+ year of service

Because the firm sets the precedent, team members strive to emulate what they see on their walls by being their best for others. “ Everything I see here – the way people help each other out and support each other – that’s what makes the core values come to life. ” Partner, 1+ years of service When one team member underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with


RubinBrown: Core Values

cancer, other team members stepped up and exemplified what it means to be your best for others. From the start of her treatment, meals were delivered to her home three to four times a week. Later a group of team members provided the family a month’s worth of meal preparation kits. Through their thoughtfulness and generosity, the team members gave their colleague and friend more time to concentrate on family and getting healthy.

At the same time, she received an outpouring of phone calls, emails and cards from supporters

and well-wishers. The firm also provided her with the equipment (such as a fax machine to communicate with the IRS) and the time to work from home to undergo necessary treatments. “ RubinBrown is a great place to work because it has good people who actually care about each other. ” Team Member, 5+ years of service In addition, the firm has valued a devotion to community from its inception, which was evident in the founders’ involvement in local and national organizations.


Living Out the Core Values

Today, RubinBrown impacts a significant number of charitable organizations through corporate sponsorships, grants from the RubinBrown Charitable Foundation, and by encouraging team members to be active in their local communities through charitable giving and volunteer service. “ The core values have encouraged me to evaluate my personal goals and contributions to the community, helping me realize that I have more time, energy and money to give to those in need. ” Team Member, 1+ years of service

Not surprisingly, numerous team members serve in a leadership position within a nonprofit organization. In a typical year, between the team members that participate in Outreach Day and those that volunteer on their own time, more than 200 agencies are impacted as a result of nearly 12,000 volunteer hours. Through the Community Service Awards, the firm recognizes these outstanding efforts and contributes thousands of dollars annually to selected nonprofits in honor of award recipients.


Chapter 3

Having Fun

H aving fun is the ninth core value, not because it’s less important than the others, but because it was the last one that came to mind at the 2000 Partner Retreat.

After the small groups had presented to each other and they haggled over just the right words, the partners had a list of eight core values that were meaningful, simple and concise. They thought they had accomplished what they had set out to do. Suddenly, there was a shout from the back of the room from one of the senior partners, “Wait! What about having fun?!” The room sat in silent contemplation for a few seconds. Then a chorus of “You’re right!” and “Yes!” echoed around the conference room, making the number of


RubinBrown: Core Values

core values an uneven – but prime – set of nine principle foundations that continue to guide the firm today. “ We spend too much time working together to attain the same goal not to have fun while doing it. ” Manager, 1+ years of service Having fun is a by-product of the relationships formed between team members and the social interactions that happen at firmwide events like Team Member Update and Outreach Day.

“ Our goal is to make sure we are continuously learning,

taking care of our profession and our community and have a long-range vision of where we’re going...and that we are having fun while doing it! ”

Partner, 30+ years of service


Having Fun

It’s rewarding for everyone when leaders gather the entire team into one room, spend time together, get to know each other and have some fun. Leaders must leverage every opportunity to create experiences with team members. “ Even though it can be stressful as a leader to make time to ‘play’ - especially when you have a lot of work to get done - it’s worth it. Fun leads to happier team members. ” Partner, 10+ years of service Team members work hard but don’t want to take themselves too seriously. Having fun is part of the RubinBrown experience. It’s part of the reason why people enjoy being at the firm and why they stay.


Chapter 4

A Living Legacy

“ The core values haven’t changed. It wasn’t the program of the month or of the year or even of the decade. The core values are like the constitution of this firm – and there haven’t been any amendments! ” Partner, 15+ years of service RubinBrown’s core values make up the fabric of the firm and are consistently demonstrated by leadership, setting an example for new team members who, as they become embedded in the culture, see those values come to life in all of the firm’s decisions and behaviors.

“ RubinBrown is the first place I’ve ever worked that truly walks the talk. The core values make up the fiber of our culture; we can’t function without them. ”

Partner, 10+ years of service


RubinBrown: Core Values

“ The core values apply to everyone and we all have to live up to them, starting from the top-down. ” Partner, 25+ years of service As the firm has expanded and continues to grow into other markets, the core values are even more important than they were during their debut. When considering a merger with another firm, RubinBrown is both cautious and selective. The core values guide the leadership team in its vision for growth and the starting point is to ensure that the values of each potential merger candidate align. RubinBrown’s core values are executed each and every day – they are not just a page on the website or a wall in a rotunda. They set expectations and guide team member behavior as well as influence the firm’s commitment to doing the right thing. “ The core values serve as the moral compass of the firm. ” Partner, 30+ years of service The principles upon which RubinBrown was founded, which were formalized in the creation of the core values, haven’t changed since the firm’s inception. It’s reassuring to know that the legacy of RubinBrown and what it values most of all - providing superior quality and service to clients and inspiring team members - will endure for years to come.


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