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Katelyn Egger | SBJ

2024 Dynamic Dozen Top CEO/Managing Partner: Gary W. Schafer II

Managing partner, FORVIS LLP

Posted online

Not many people can say they happily spent their career at one company. Gary Schafer got connected with FORVIS LLP when the firm, then known as BKD LLP, awarded him a scholarship at Missouri State University. A domino effect ensued: In two months, Schafer graduated college, passed the certified public accountant exam, got married and accepted a job with BKD.

For Schafer, it feels like he won the lottery.

“Being able to live and raise my family in the Ozarks while practicing my profession at the highest level in a top-tier, national firm alongside some incredible mentors and role models is an experience that I’m grateful for,” Schafer says.

Twenty-eight years and a name-changing merger later, Schafer is managing partner for the Springfield, Joplin, and Branson offices where he leads a team 450 strong. He is on the FORVIS governing board and several firmwide task forces. Schafer says it’s an opportunity to pay it forward.

“Fostering success and investing in the development of the leaders of tomorrow for my firm and our profession is both a big responsibility and an amazing privilege,” he says. “I am incredibly blessed to work with a talented, motivated and hardworking group of servant leaders who raise the bar on how we deliver for our clients. My work ensures we follow through on our promises to our people and best serve the communities where we live.”

Schafer holds expertise in auditing, advisory services, manufacturing, construction, retail, service industries, and entrepreneurial, family-owned and private-equity businesses. His skillset expands beyond typical accounting, however, to include areas such as human resources, cyber security, risk management and employee engagement. The ability to evolve and be innovative is vital, Schafer says.

“Over the past year, we’ve introduced new services and tools in a variety of industries that allow us to help clients with everything from accounting for leases to securing tax credits for clean energy,” Schafer says.

Schafer approaches leadership collaboratively, aligning multiple teams with core mission values and enabling clear communication. This is more important than ever, Schafer notes, with industry difficulties including talent acquisition. Schafer leads FORVIS’ recruitment and retention efforts, including forging partnerships with Missouri universities. In previous SBJ reporting, Schafer anticipated onboarding a record 500 employees firmwide this summer.

Schafer is also passionate about serving on several community boards, organizations and the FORVIS Foundation. Community service is a cornerstone to success, Schafer says, and something he builds into his teams.

“I actively encourage each member of the FORVIS team to find their passion in community involvement,” Schafer says. “The further team members advance in their careers, the greater the expectation for them to give back to their community. … Building remarkable careers is at the heart of our mission at FORVIS and how we follow through on our commitment to do that helps set us apart from other national accounting and advisory firms.”

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