Member Profile - Michael Ferkovic

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Michael Ferkovic
Senior Manager, Transaction Advisory Services
BDO USA, LLP

ACG Member Since: 2013
ACG Involvement: Chair of YACG

How have you had to adapt your business model during the shutdown? What has worked and what hasn’t?

Over the last few years, our team spent significant time reflecting on how middle-market diligence might evolve in the next recession. We bet clients would increasingly be interested in cross-functional, tailored approaches - not only flagging deal issues but also resolving them.

Did we ever think we would see the economy shutdown? Absolutely not. However, as risk and uncertainty increased, we’ve seen our bet play out. Despite working from home, we are as busy as ever, particularly with healthcare deals.

Healthcare deal flow remains strong, particularly for roll-ups of dental, specialist, or outpatient services. We work together with our national healthcare transaction team and tap our Healthcare Center of Excellence for insights related to reimbursement, practice management, and strategic risks. We built out similar expertise in restaurants and other industries.

Overall, we had a brief slowdown at the end of March, which allowed us to focus on cross-training our teams between industries, refining our deployment of analytics tools, and preparing for anticipated demand for additional analyses, such as cash flow projections or COVID pro formas. Since then, we experienced volume somewhat in line with pre-COVID projects.

What has surprised you most during this period?

The daily news can be depressing. Our job responsibilities are serious. However, working from home has provided a great reminder of the fragility and (often) absurdity of the human condition. Though the tools have been at our disposal for years, we never fully deployed video calls. Now ubiquitous, there is nowhere to hide from truly integrating your work and home life.

Child screaming in the background? Can’t hear or lead a call because your neighbor fired up his mower or is blasting music? Instacart or DoorDash delivery mid-meeting? Did you or someone on your team shower or shave today? Is that an office or a basement dungeon? I filled up another recycling bag of beer, wine, etc.?! And of course, did you binge-watch Tiger King or The Last Dance?

Check all the above and more. These moments have added positivity, authenticity, and levity to the situation, reminding us to be grateful while others are really struggling. My grandfather, who grew up in the Depression and World War II, put it best, “We had no money, no food, and knew so many who went to war and never came back. You are getting alcohol delivered to your door, watching Netflix, golfing, and video chatting with folks throughout the world. You have it pretty good.” So true.

How are you staying connected with your network?

I’ve tried to schedule at least one Zoom or Teams call per day. No agenda. Simply checking-in over coffee or a drink. Most of these meetings include a lot of laughs (mainly due to the situations noted above). Nothing replaces spending time with someone in person, but I should have been scheduling these meetings for years.

Do you think we will see lasting changes to how we do business as a result of this?

I hope so. We’ve seen such rapid technological change and globalization in such a short period of time. Now global resources and interconnectedness are at our fingertips, but the experience can be overwhelming or difficult to navigate. I would not trade the benefits, but the virus may have highlighted the fragility of the system. I am not smart enough to predict the future, but in my view, this period is a great opportunity to get back to basics:

  • Spending more time with your family, communities, team, and clients
  • Flexible work arrangements as standard practice, not exceptions
  • Building more resilient processes and systems that can withstand a crisis or shock
  • Utilizing technology to provide opportunities for a wider range of needs, rather than just scale

We are trying to change our mindset to view this experience as an opportunity rather than a roadblock. For example, although we prefer in-person meetings, virtual calls are a great tool to schedule time with busy prospects, clients, or remote or international targets. These tools have allowed us to increase the speed and depth of diligence while remaining respectful of their family, team, health, and community needs. Is the experience the same as years past? Certainly not, but we’re providing modalities, which benefit both the client, target, and team to better integrate work and life.

Has there been a "silver lining" for you and if so, what is it?

One of the great aspects of our work is its pace. Every day is new, different, and exciting, but I sometimes let the pace of our work distract me from being truly present in and grateful for the moment. The crisis was such a shock but also a great reminder to re-focus on our values.

After a couple of weeks, my wife and I embraced working from home and hit the reset button. We started making plans to do a lot of the things missed over the last couple of years as work and life got busier, such as rediscovering our parks and lakefront, video chatting with college friends and faraway family, attempting delayed home improvement projects, trying long-lost recipes, re-watching and appreciating the Tribe’s streak, and generally spending more time outside. We’ve been enjoying Tribe replays, The Match, and other sports projected against our garage – a great way to cap an evening.

We are still working as much as ever but are thankful for the ability to connect with family, friends, and our city in some ways that are new and others which might be back-to-basics. We are incredibly lucky.

What is your favorite ACG Cleveland event and why?

The Summer Social at the Shoreby Club, which is a rite of summer for me. If there is sunny weather, there is no more beautiful place in Cleveland. It’s a great event to catch up with other professionals as no one seems to be in a rush.