Halfway through the decade, with the Great Recession slipping farther and farther into the rearview mirror, corporate leaders are pushing onward and upward. Nowhere is this more evident than in the San Francisco Bay Area where a lot of attention has shone on activities within the tech and life science sectors. In business, there is never enough time to waste and anyone who lingers at a standstill for too long will get left behind.

In the Bay Area, we’ve seen a higher eagerness for forward movement over the past year as well as more forward-thinking actions. Small companies that had held a tight grip on lean finance teams are expanding. Larger companies are soul searching and making positive strategic changes. And to top it off, the IPO market is incredibly active (2014 saw the highest number of companies going public since 2000, according to Renaissance Capital).

We are not quite returning to a heyday and I don’t think we’re in a bubble, but it’s much easier to find bright spots than when this decade first began. As for RoseRyan, we are enjoying much forward momentum too, having made investments even during the turbulent times. The outlook for RoseRyan is a positive one for the year ahead as we continue to see opportunities for growth within our own client base as well as with potential clients.

A memorable year
One of our proudest moments in 2014 was the introduction of our RoseRyan Day 2 service, created for companies struggling to get everything done properly after their IPO. The early days of working at a publicly listed company is an exciting time, but it’s also a shaky time, as the organization has to adjust to new processes, new requirements and the constant prying eyes of investors and regulators. They need to be more careful and watch out for inconsistencies in the information they share and how they share it. This puts the onus on the finance department.

We enjoy helping finance teams power through the challenges of what we call “Day 2,” that one- to two-year stretch of time between the IPO and and when the company is actually comfortable acting like a public company. There is a lot to do.

Some companies are taking on a transition of another sort altogether, as they look under the hood and consider whether something within their infrastructure is holding them back. We expect the trend of spinoffs and splits to continue following on the heels of big changes at Hewlett-Packard, eBay (which is spinning off PayPal) and Symantec. When done with great care, such divestitures can position a business for greater mobility, innovation and growth.

Another signifier of an increased focus on the future — rather than a stuck-in-the-mud feeling wrought by the recession — shows up in the job market. People are more confident about switching jobs, and there are more opportunities for them to make the change. This development is a good sign for our local economy (as well as for our own interim finance services pipeline), but it does make the life of hiring managers more difficult. In the finance and accounting world in particular, we continue to face a tight market and we all need to rethink how we attract and keep top talent. It’s certainly a job seekers’ market out there.

At RoseRyan, our standards for seasoned finance pros continue to remain high, and we have the kind of reputation that continues to attract the talent we need. In the fall, I was honored to be recognized as one of 10 elite managing partners from around the country by Accounting Today for having the kind of “employee-friendly firm that so many leaders are struggling to build now that engaged, enthusiastic staff are at a premium.”

Over 20 years, we have set up a culture of fun-loving folks who have a passion for what they do and the means to collaborate and learn from each other. And we do it without the round-the-clock pressure that some larger firms run on. Our work shines because of our experience and our enthusiasm, and I share my inclusion on the Accounting Today Managing Partner Elite list with my RoseRyan colleagues.

Successful businesses will persevere by keeping their focus on the future, rather than lamenting on what they see in that rearview mirror. We have our eyes on the future. Will you be joining us?

Kathy Ryan is the CEO and CFO of RoseRyan. Since co-founding the firm in 1993, she has served as interim CFO at more than 50 companies.