As co-founder and CEO of Dallas-based Ryan Inc., Brint Ryan says he likes to lead by consensus, but can be very decisive when required. “I’m a benign dictator,” he says.
The management approach seems to be working. In the 19-year history of the tax services firm—the big 20 will be next July—only two of about 70 partners have left for reasons other than retirement. And what began as a small shop funded by the partners’ credit cards has grown into a tax audit defense and recovery powerhouse, with 42 locations in North America and the United Kingdom.
Each year, Ryan Inc. recovers about $1.5 billion a year for its corporate clients. Its success has boosted its own bottom line. According to Ryan, the company’s five-year CAGR (compound annual growth rate) is almost 30 percent. The firm posted record results last year—no easy feat, considering the country’s economic state—and its near-term outlook is strong.
Co-founder and CEO
BEST PART OF YOUR JOB:
I get to lead the brightest and most capable tax team in the industry. We are constantly developing new issues and new ideas to help clients, and that’s really the most challenging and fun part of what we do.
BEHIND THE GROWTH:
I think there are a number of factors. Obviously one is the capability of our people. They’re smart, talented, tax people. And part of it is the business model. We have a technology-driven service model that allows us to be very efficient, allows us to focus on the issues, not waste a lot of clients’ time. Lastly is our willingness to take risks. We develop a lot of cases using the firm’s capital that may or may not be successful. We’re not afraid of that. We’re good at handicapping and we find ways to provide value to our clients when other firms may shy away from that level of risk.
“The greatest risk of all is not taking a risk.” I’ve taken that philosophy to heart at Ryan Inc. We try a lot of things and we keep what works.
Probably my ability to focus on problems and solve them. I really enjoy what I do, and that enables me to pursue it almost relentlessly, with a focus that a lot of people just don’t have when it comes to resolving issues.
I think if you ask my partners they would tell you that I’m frequently tempted to micro-manage. Fortunately though, the volume of work I’m responsible for usually prevents that.
Without question it’s the one I have now. It’s the most challenging and rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life.
My worst job was building fences for my grandfather on his ranch in West Texas. There’s nothing in the world that will make a college boy out of you faster than that.
I’ve got a big family. I’m married to Amanda Sutton and we have five daughters, ages 11, 9, 6, 4, and 3.
The only television I watch is cable news. However, I must confess that vicariously, through my wife, I do catch episodes of The Bachelor and The Apprentice because she [records] these shows and wants to watch them in bed before we go to sleep. So unfortunately, my wife is inviting Donald Trump into my bedroom at night.
WORDS OF WISDOM:
I tell all of our new people coming in that 90 percent of success is effort. The people who work hardest are the ones who are most successful. I find that to be almost universally true. Talent is important, intelligence is important, but nothing makes up for hard work.