Life after RSM: Philanthropy and travel

Zack Fortsch, RSM alum

Culture RSM alumni

My career in public accounting spanned more than 39 years—28 of them at RSM US LLP, until my retirement in April 2022.

I was introduced to RSM in 1982 as a student at Illinois State University, while connecting with campus recruiters. I did not join the firm immediately after graduation; I reconnected with the organization a few years later but ultimately decided that the timing was still not right. Finally, in 1993, through relationships I had in the field, I learned of a position at RSM’s Schaumburg office and joined the firm as a tax manager and in time became a tax partner. I like to think it was the "third time's a charm" when it came to the start of my career at RSM. What kept me there for 28 years were the people and the clients I worked with.

My specialty at RSM was serving the industry-specific needs of our tax-exempt clients. Sometimes, nonprofit, healthcare, and education organizations are challenged with operational, regulatory, and compliance issues. What I loved most about working with these clients was that I could help them solve their problems so they could continue their great work carrying out their mission without the stress of having to solve their organization's complex financial issues.

Outside of RSM, I enjoyed working with nonprofit organizations as well. One I am the most connected with is Illinois State University, through its Department of Accounting Advisory Council. In 2019, my mother and I established a scholarship in my father's name, William A. Fortsch, to support incoming freshman students pursuing a career in accounting. The main goal is to help the students financially; however, mentorship is extremely important to me, and I develop relationships with each student throughout their five-year program.

Recently, my wife and I took our current scholarship recipient and her father to a Chicago Bulls game and to dinner at the United Center, and had our pictures taken at center court. The best part of the night was that the Bulls won!

Now that I am retired, I want to dedicate my time to the university through its foundation board.

Speaking of being retired, what I enjoy most these days is traveling with my family. In 2022, I traveled to Branson, Missouri, in April and to Northern and Southern California in May, and attended the RSM Owners Meeting. In the fall, we visited Portland, Maine, with a stop in Acadia National Park; took a week trip to St. Augustine, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia; and finished the year with the RSM Classic and a trip to New Orleans. One of the great perks you receive as a retired partner is a travel voucher, so this September, I, along with my wife, daughter, and son and his fiancé, will be traveling to Iceland. We're counting down the days!

As I reflect on my career, the people are what I miss the most from my time at RSM. When I was involved with recruiting, students would ask me what was so special about RSM, and I'd say, "Well, it sounds so clichéd, but you'll notice it when you get here. It is about the people. And culture is important—you can't put a price on culture."

Want to hear more about Zack’s RSM alum story? Connect with him on LinkedIn. Or, if you’re inspired to find your next role at RSM, explore our openings today.

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