Since the inception of our parent company The Elm Consulting Group International LLC almost 15 years ago, integrity and honesty have been absolutes in how we work with clients, affiliates and partners. Sure, that sounds like a tagline espoused by every other advisory and audit firm on the planet. It is so ubiquitous that clients probably don’t even notice anymore. But for us, it is a daily element of our practice we demonstrate frequently.
Why bring this up? The formation of Elm Sustainability Partners expanded Elm’s presence in an area that has very few providers with the breadth of expertise we have. Our client base and market recognition have grown significantly, while the available pool of qualified consultants/auditors is severely limited. More companies are asking us to provide more support – for which we are tremendously grateful. But there are times when the requests threaten our independence or create competitive concerns with an existing client.
We are in no way saying that companies are intentionally asking us to go against independence principles. They are simply seeking our services and it isn’t their responsibility to fully understand our independence position, or know our client list. It is our obligation to monitor our own position, notify appropriate parties and decline engagements when necessary. And we have done so – in reality, not in abstract.
We openly state that our position on independence is overly-conservative – we are not ashamed of that. Doing so provides clients with a higher level of comfort and risk management. Robert Bray, Managing Director in Southern California, boils it down to the simple guide “go with your gut.” It means we walk away from very real business opportunities and revenue.
Maybe this restricts our growth, but we are okay with that.