Princeton, N.J., – Withum, the nationally ranked advisory, tax and assurance/accounting firm, has announced the passing of one of its founders, Fred Withum, at the age 84. Born in Milltown, N.J., he co-founded WithumSmith+Brown, PC in 1974 and retired from the CPA firm in 1987.
Acknowledged for being an industry visionary, Withum was instrumental in shaping the firm’s three core pillars for commitment: clients, people and communities. His influence also established far-reaching strategic initiatives, among which were first-of-their-kind planning meetings and partner retreats in the 1970s designed chart the firm’s future course.
“From our early years as a firm, Fred was instrumental in instilling in us the importance of client service, integrity, growth and community service,” said Len Smith, who co-founded the firm with Withum as well as Ivan Brown and Doug Sonier. “These principles have stayed with us for over 40 years and have become the foundation for the Withum Way. Fred was a big believer in planning, and often reminded us of a quote from Lewis Carroll, ‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.’”
Sonier added, “Fred was a true entrepreneur who encouraged and supported each of us in expanding the firm’s footprint and services. The confidence he instilled and demonstrated – combined with measured risk-taking – were key components that contributed to the growth and success of the firm.”
Today, Withum is a national top-ranking public accounting firm providing advisory, tax and audit services to businesses and individuals on a local-to-global scale. In addition to its Princeton, N.J., headquarters, the firm has a presence in major financial centers including New York City; Boston, MA; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC.; and Orlando, FL. Withum also is an independent member of HLB, the global advisory and accounting network.
Legacy of Outreach and Work-Life Balance
Thanks to Withum, two of the firm’s most deeply entrenched cultural hallmarks were and continue to be community outreach and achieving work-life balance – two concepts introduced at a time when most firms did not acknowledge their important influence.
“Fred was passionate about involvement in outside activities and giving back to the community. He encouraged us to join and actively participate in charitable and professional organizations. In addition, he advocated for providing pro-bono and reduced-fee services to not-for-profits, many with June 30 FYE, which was a win-win proposition,” explained Brown. “A strong proponent of family involvement, Fred also encouraged us to carve out time to watch and participate – via coaching and similar activities – in our children’s lives.”
Withum’s emphasis on the quality of the accounting profession’s services also is legendary. He was a champion of the peer review process in the early days, visiting all of the New Jersey state society chapters to address and promote the new peer review program. In 1977, Withum became one of the first non-national accounting firms to voluntarily participate in the AICPA peer review program, which encompasses in-depth evaluation of each participating firm’s processes and procedures. Since then, the firm that bears his name has successfully passed all 13 peer reviews conducted.
According to Bill Hagaman, the firm’s managing partner and CEO, this feat underscores another one of the firm’s late founders’ famous quotes: “Our services are for sale. Our integrity is not.” Hagaman added, “This truism still applies, as Withum team members continue to hold up the highest levels of values and ethics and expect the same from those with whom they work.”
An avid history buff, Withum was a Civil and Revolutionary War enthusiast. He also enjoyed boating, football and passionately cheering for the New York Giants. Other favorite pastimes included birding and spending time outdoors.
Withum is survived by his wife, Marion Luchsinger Withum, of Killington; his son, Dr. Frederick S. Withum III and wife Jacquie, of Carlisle, PA; his stepsons Frank and Mark Cassano, of Plymouth and Scott Cassano, of Kittery, ME; his brother, Jack Withum, of Red Bank, NJ; six grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. Memorial contributions to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, P.O. Box 1281, Quechee, VT 05059 can be made in Withum’s honor.