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Sharpening the Office of the CFO With the Help of Accordion and Motive

As Seen in: Motive Insights Podcast

On March 2, 2023, Accordion’s CEO & Founder Nick Leopard appeared on Motive Partners’ “Motive Insights” podcast. In his interview, he discusses the history of the firm, our unique service offerings, and our people-first culture — and how the strategic growth investment from Charlesbank and Motive will help Accordion streamline, professionalize, and elevate the Office of the CFO for PE-backed companies.

On Accordion’s Founding Story:

“When the 2008 Financial Crisis hit, I was working at a mezzanine fund, and we ended up having to get much more involved in the holdings that we had. I was always being parachuted into portfolio companies to work alongside the CFOs. But when trying to bring resources to those CFOs, I realized that they weren’t being served by the Big Four accounting firms or the big management consulting firms like Bain or McKinsey. So I developed the idea for Accordion and officially launched in November 2009. And it has been a tough, fulfilling, and successful journey so far.”

On Accordion’s Differentiator:

“Accordion has developed a strong brand. We work alongside management teams to help them be high-performing private equity-backed leadership teams, but we also get really hands-on to help drive forward value creation plans.”  


“Our goal isn’t to go into our clients and leave behind PowerPoint presentations. We go in and roll up our sleeves and help clients push forward initiatives. And then as the Accordion name implies, we have the ability to expand and contract the teams as necessary. We’re not sending in big, bloated teams where it feels like there’s a lot of cost fatigue, which most clients get from their consulting firms. And we’re hyper-surgical; we can come in for two- or three-months support, and then get out. And that has led to the less-than-clear revenue visibility that other consulting firms may have. But it’s also led to a brand where clients can say, ‘We can call Accordion, they can help us with any sized project, and they’ll send in great people to work alongside our management teams to help elevate them and ultimately drive returns.”

On Accordion’s People-First Culture:

“Most companies start with a founding mission of serving the best products or services to clients. But we started with employee value proposition first; the “better way to work in finance” was our founding mission.”


“Our goal was to build a firm filled with hungry people that are just good humans overall: people who want to be part of a place with a culture of collaboration and an entrepreneurial spirit. We wanted people to feel they could raise their hands and really make their mark on a high-growth firm. My belief was if you started with the best people, then you would gravitate towards the best clients, and then you would deliver the best work. And it becomes a virtuous cycle.”

On the Value of Technology in Private Equity:

“Software has been a very attractive focus of ours, as private equity as an asset class has been slow to adopt technology but needs to professionalize. The need to produce returns to accelerate the execution of value creation levers across an investment hold period is becoming more and more critical, even in today’s environment. There’s a real opportunity to build and leverage technology to serve the private equity industry.”

On Recent Market Changes:

“These last 12 months have been interesting. The private credit market has been busier than the private equity market, and private equity has really been focused on waiting. So there’s been a disconnect in valuation expectations between sellers and buyers. But because of that, there’s been a real focus on what we can do to improve portfolio companies now. This can be transformation work, where we’re asking, ‘How can we right size this business?’ or, ‘How can we leverage technology to run a more efficient function? How can we lift and shift certain functions, potentially offshore or nearshore, to drive cost efficiencies?’ Overall, there’s just been an increased focus on optimizing existing portfolio companies versus new deal flow.”


“Since Accordion started, we’ve built out eight practice areas to really service the Office of the CFO; we wanted to ensure that we had a suite of services to allow us to really thrive in a downturn. So I think we’ve been pretty well positioned to capitalize on this market volatility, as we’ve been very deliberate about how we built out our services.”

On Accordion’s Investments & Acquisitions:

“When we were in the process of receiving a growth investment from FFL, I told them, ‘If you want to be focused just on revenue aggregation, or just on revenue growth, you’ve got the wrong management team, you’ve got the wrong company. If you want to focus on building a great company for the long term, the financial outcomes will be a byproduct of that.’ That sentiment was repeated to Motive at the very beginning, and I stand by it: let’s focus on building a great long-term business. Some private equity sponsors may say, ‘Let’s just do more and more M&A, we just need to scale. And then let’s sell this.’ But with our approach, we returned 4.7x FFL’s money in almost three and a half years. I’m excited to blow that number out of the water under Motive’s holding.”


“Our growth has been a combination of strong organic growth and strong M&A growth. Last year, we grew 81%; 55% of that was organic, and we made two acquisitions in the CFO technology space. One was around CPM solutions, and one was a NetSuite implementation firm. In 2021, we acquired a turnaround and restructuring business. Our big learning has been that sometimes it’s better to buy versus build, and sometimes it’s better to build versus buy. But if we’re going the M&A route, given how important culture is at Accordion, we have to find a company that cares about its people in the same way that we do. All our acquisitions have been easy to integrate into the firm because of a like-minded culture.”

On The Value Motive Partners Brings to Accordion:

“We’ve been a real dominant force in the industry, but there’s still a lot of room to run. We have a lot of things we need to start thinking about around the corner, whether that be global integration, compensation plans, organizational structure, etc. as we start to run a more complex and diversified business. But at the same time, thinking about doing it in a way where we’re constantly thinking about eliminating complexity. And Motive’s help has been, and continues to be, incredibly valuable.”

For Nick’s full interview on the “Motive Insights” podcast:



About Nick Leopard

Nick Leopard
Nick Leopard
CEO & Founder

Nick is the CEO & Founder of Accordion, a private equity-focused financial and technology consulting firm. Since founding Accordion in 2009, Nick has grown the company to serve more than 300 of the world’s premier private equity firms and their portfolio companies – providing services that span the entire CFO function. Accordion is headquartered in New York and has ten offices across the United States. Before Accordion, Nick worked at BHC Interim Funding, Bear Stearns, and CapitalSource Finance. Nick earned his BS in Finance from Saint Joseph’s University.  Read more

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