Back in the 1990s, Russell “Rusty” Fleming was working for a large firm specializing in accounting and advisory services for the alternative investment industry. But he was traveling all over the country and missing time with his young family.
So he started Fleming Fund Services out of his home, essentially doing the same thing but on his time so he could take off in the late afternoons and coach his sons’ soccer teams.
Fleming, an accountant who graduated from Towson University and first worked for PriceWaterhouse, grew the Bel Air-based firm a little each year, “flying under the radar,” he said. He didn’t want to grow so fast he lost the quality of service.
Along the way, Fleming Fund Services accumulated a roster of clients that includes some of the largest hedge funds in the world, though he said he can’t name them, and a small but dedicated workforce, including his daughter. He said he’s had just three people leave in 23 years.
The respect of his staff helps explain how Fleming got chosen for this year’s leadership award for small businesses in Baltimore Sun Media’s Top Workplaces.
“He has built a business from the ground up. He has recruited and maintained an impressive client list, and those clients genuinely appreciated the quality of work performed and the expertise provided‚” said one employee of Fleming’s leadership.”
Another said: “He works hard but also balances his hard work with strong family values. He strives for greatness and perfection and expects it from everyone.”
Fleming took a few moments to answer questions about leadership and Fleming Fund Services’ culture.
How did the pandemic change Fleming Fund Services as a workplace?
The pandemic led Fleming Fund Services to embrace and adopt an even more flexible work environment. Employees were fully remote during much of the pandemic, and as it is now safe to return to the office, many employees continue to work remotely a few days a week. Fleming Fund Services enhanced their technology and data security and never missed a beat with the switch to remote work.
Now, employees can enjoy the best of both worlds — interacting with their co-workers in the office or via Microsoft Teams or Zoom or working at home if more convenient or appropriate.
What makes Fleming Fund Services a good place to work?
We work hard at Fleming Fund Services, but we are also a family. We are a group of people who genuinely care for and like one another. That motivates us all to do the best job we can. We never hesitate to raise a hand to help another co-worker, and we support each other both professionally and personally. We understand how important family and personal time are, and we offer employees a flexible work schedule and environment to make those things a priority.
What is a leader’s role in establishing a Top Workplace?
I believe the tone of the organization comes from the top. When I founded Fleming Fund Services over 20 years ago, I had a vision to create an accounting and advisory firm that works hard and exceeds client expectations but also values employees’ quality of life. I strongly believe in the importance of family and creating a work-life balance.
I have tried to lead by example, and others in the Fleming Fund Services management team have adopted the same set of values. We all believe this makes for a healthier, happier and more productive team.