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Inside the Eminence Program: Scott's Journey


Senior analysts in RSM’s Industry Eminence Program track complex economic trends to deliver forward-looking industry insights to clients, prospects and middle market stakeholders. Now in his third year as an eminent, Senior Manager Scott Helberg is a first-choice advisor for RSM’s real estate professionals and clients, helping them navigate the volatile economic environment.

The start of my career

I began my career with RSM right after graduating college in 2010. Since my first day, real estate has always been my focus and my passion. It was an interesting time to begin; the industry was just coming out of the Great Recession. Fortunately, I had many clients in acquisition mode at the time, and I’ve been lucky to watch them succeed over the years as my career has progressed. As we approach a period of growth after a pandemic-induced recession, I am confident I will be able to leverage my experience to best advise our clients.

A cutting-edge experience

When the RSM Industry Eminence Program (IEP) was first announced in 2018, I knew it was something I had to be a part of. I reached out to Laura Dietzel and Troy Merkel, who were senior analysts in the inaugural class. They had only positive things to say about their experience in the program and encouraged me to apply.

As a tax professional working on a client’s tax return, my curiosity drives me to dive deeper into learning more about properties and business operations. Additionally, I always dedicate personal time to staying knowledgeable about the real estate industry outside of tax. The IEP enables me to hone my skills and passion for real estate, and become more knowledgeable about current industry trends and issues to better serve my clients. The program has provided a role that I had been looking to serve all along.

Key takeaways two years in

The IEP has allowed me to meet many new people across the firm and build a stronger appreciation for the vast breadth of services RSM offers. Conversations with my clients go well beyond just tax compliance and deadlines. We discuss operations and strategy, and I feel better equipped to be a first-choice advisor than ever before. My biggest takeaway has been to look past the headlines. It always goes back to the data and the narrative it provides. The program has given me exposure to a number of data sources, including Bloomberg, CoStar and Preqin.

One key example relates to activity in real estate private equity in 2019. The headlines emphasized record amounts of fundraising, but that same level of success was not reflected with clients at the time. Looking further into the data, I realized that the largest fund managers were taking a larger portion of the new capital. Middle market fund managers were not having the same level of success. With this insight, we were able to better advise our clients in their fundraising efforts and approach.

IEP career benefits

The benefits from the IEP grow each day. I have been so thankful to be involved internally with our national real estate team to educate others at RSM on industry trends and drive initiatives that will better serve our firm and our clients. I have developed a greater appreciation for how we operate and how we can best provide value to our clients at the national, regional and local levels. Learning about other industries allows me to better understand how real estate tenants are being affected on a day-to-day basis and therefore, better serve our clients. I’m also grateful for the numerous external experiences I’ve been able to take advantage of, such as speaking on panels and networking. These have been incredible growth opportunities for my career that I would not have been exposed to if it weren’t for the IEP. Learning and developing into a real estate business advisor has helped build my confidence as I guide clients toward succeeding in their business goals.

On the horizon

I look forward to further enhancing the skills that I have developed over the last two years. In the upcoming year, I am also eager to participate in an MIT Sloan program and obtain an Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation. This experience will allow me to learn new strategic approaches and tools, as well as understand how to successfully drive innovation throughout an organization.

As we emerge from the pandemic, RSM’s presence as a first-choice advisor to the middle market has never been more important. I’m excited to continue to equip our tax, audit and consulting professionals with data-driven insights on emerging trends. That, in combination with their extensive technical knowledge and experience, enables us to best serve our clients.