I spent fifteen years with Touche Ross (Deloitte & Touche, after a merger with Deloitte, Haskins & Sells shortly before I left), which was more than twice as long as I spent with any other organization. I became a Senior Partner on September 1, 1975, and resigned effective August 31, 1990.
As was the case when I was with Coopers & Lybrand, I had no interest in being involved in the management of the firm. I made this clear during the discussions leading up to my joining them. What I did promise was that I’d put the name Touche Ross in places where it had never been before, and that I'd ably represent them in Institute affairs, both in Ontario and nationally. With the help and co-operation of my Touche partners I delivered in spades on both counts; and, other than serving on a few Touche committees (marketing, sales, PR, and business development, for which I was particularly suited and thoroughly enjoyed), they never pressured me to get involved in the actual management of the firm.
While at Touche I had over two hundred columns published, all of which had the by-line “Lyman MacInnis is a partner with Touche Ross.” I also had a twice-daily commentary on CFRB in Toronto and was a frequent guest on regular shows on the station, always being identified as “a partner with Touche Ross”.
During my time with Touche I also appeared on television about two hundred times, again always being identified with the firm. I also did a great deal of public speaking all over Canada and internationally in such places as New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Bermuda, Nassau, and Grand Cayman, again always being identified as a “Touche Ross partner”. All of this provided the firm with free publicity worth millions of dollars, at a time when CA firms were not allowed to advertise.
When it came to the Institutes, I basically did it all. I became Chairman of both the Ontario and the Canadian Institutes. Over the ten-year period in which I was involved in this activity, the support and co-operation of my partners was unbelievable. At one point I was out of the country for five weeks (Anne and our sons came with me), so you can just imagine the amount of covering the Toronto partners did for me.
From a practice standpoint I still had all my personal financial planning clients from my Coopers days and, of course, picked up many more off the Touche roster, especially very senior executives and successful entrepreneurs. I was also proud of the fact that as a result of my writing, speaking and broadcasting activity, I acquired as personal financial planning clients a number of senior executives of corporations which were not Touche clients, such as John Labatt Ltd. and MDS.
It was while dealing with the CEO of a large public company in the late 1970s that I accidentally fell into the field that eventually became known as executive coaching. I was explaining this particular client’s very complex income tax return to him when I noticed that he didn’t seem to paying much attention, which, as he usually took a keen interest in his taxes, was highly unusual. I asked him what was distracting him and he said that he was having trouble with his chief financial officer. I asked him to explain the problem to me, and after getting his answers to a few probing questions I told him how I thought he should deal with the situation.
A few weeks later I received a call from this CEO. He said he’d received my bill and wanted to talk about it. I started to protest that, given the complexity of his financial affairs, the fee was eminently fair. He interrupted me saying, “No, no, Lyman. You don’t understand. It’s not too high, it’s too low; you didn’t charge me for the advice you gave me about how to deal with my CFO. That was worth more than what you charged me for the tax work. Send me another bill for it.” Not being stupid, I did.
The incident got me thinking. I often gave advice to my clients on non-financial problems which they raised with me, particularly in the areas of communications, public relations, human resources, and marketing. I went in to see our managing partner Ron Strange and told him that I may have inadvertently stumbled upon a new client service. I explained the situation with the CEO who had, probably for the first time in the history of the profession, offered to pay a higher fee than what we had billed. I went on to explain how I often gave advice on non-financial matters to individual clients. I also said that I was certain we could charge a premium for this service. Ron called in Sandy Aird, who ran our management consulting practice, and we kicked it around some more. All three of us felt we had a viable idea here, but we didn’t know what to call it. As I alluded to earlier, this service came to be known as executive coaching (co-incidentally a term dreamed up by a CPA in the mid-west USA who also did personal financial planning). But the term had not been coined back then and we didn’t think of it. We collectively came up with probably the worst description possible; we called it “rent a director.”
Through word of mouth by my existing clients, and a few of my more senior partners, the service caught on and by the time I left Touche I was spending about twenty percent of my time doing executive coaching. As it turned out, I spent the entire last nine years of my career (1994-2003) exclusively in executive coaching.
Although a lot of my Institute activities took place before joining Touche, the years 1976 to 1987 saw my heaviest involvement in Institute affairs. I served on the Ontario Institute Council from 1976 until 1983 and on the Canadian Institute’s Board of Governors from 1981 until 1987, including, as mentioned earlier, being Chairman of both bodies. None of this would have been possible without the overwhelming support of my Touche partners, especially Ron Strange, Joe Martin, Sandy Aird, Bob Rennie, Jim Miller, Tom Cryer, Tom Dawson and Ron Crawford. This tremendous support actually began shortly after I joined the firm, when Bill Bradshaw, who was on the Ontario Institute Council, stepped aside in order for me to run for office. (Only one person from each firm could stand for election.)
From 1982 until 1987 I spent more time on Institute affairs, writing, and broadcasting than I did servicing clients at the firm. As a result, when the Institute activity ended in 1987, I found that I’d become a virtual outsider, both in the eyes of many of the partners and, actually in my own mind.
There were two other exacerbating factors affecting my status in the firm. One was that by then the rules of professional conduct of the Institute had changed, allowing firms to do limited advertising, so my writing, speaking and broadcasting was no longer as valuable to the firm as it had been. The second was that a lot of publicity had been given to the fact that I was offered the job of Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players Association, and even though I’d turned it down some partners felt that because I’d seriously considered it meant wasn’t sufficiently interested in the firm; which by that time was probably true..
Even though Jim Miller and Tom Cryer (who were now running the firm) and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out a way to integrate me back into the practice, we really couldn’t come up with anything satisfactory to both the management of the firm and me. So, when the next really good job offer came along (from about 1980 on, because of my public profile and executive coaching activity, I’d get about a call a month from HR executives or head hunters) I took it.
I left Deloitte & Touche on August 31, 1990, to become President of Sports and Entertainment at John Labatt Ltd.