Alexander Reyes is a partner and leader of the financial services industry practice at Citrin Cooperman, one of the nation’s largest professional services firms. It’s an impressive job for anyone, but for Reyes, a Latino who grew up in the Bronx and attended public school, what he has achieved holds special meaning. Reyes says it comes down to three things: being passionate about what you do, believing in yourself, and taking advantage of the opportunities presented.
The position holds meaning for Reyes because he can remember a time when he never knew financial services was an option for someone like him. In high school, he enrolled in a special program that exposed him to a career in medicine, but he quickly realized he did not have a passion for it. It was at Fordham University where Reyes began to develop a real passion for numbers, mathematics, and science, and also where his mentor suggested that he apply for INROADS, a nonprofit organization that provides career resources and opportunities to ethnically diverse students.
The application process for INROADS was highly rigorous, Reyes notes. The last step of the selection process consisted of interviewing for internships, and Reyes was selected and subsequently completed an internship in the corporate tax department of Time Warner.
But INROADS did more than just expose Reyes to the world of finance. Reyes says his involvement with the organization and other mentors helped him understand both the incredible opportunity that existed in professional services and the exposure to senior leadership in corporate America that such opportunities give one at a very young age.
This epiphany put Reyes on a new track and energized him to focus more seriously on developing the personal networks and educational training he would need to succeed. He joined Beta Alpha Psi, an accounting society, and other similar academic and social groups.
I bet on myself when I left my previous firm because I knew I had what it takes to contribute to overall strategy, take on a larger leadership role, and bring a perspective that would help grow the financial industry practice for Citrin Cooperman.”Alexander Reyes
With good mentors in place, Reyes just needed a bit of good luck. He graduated with an offer from EY and started his career as a staff member working in their banking and capital markets practice. Early in his career, he joined the New York chapter of ALPFA and met many other Latinos in the profession with a passion for becoming future leaders in the profession. This core group, which he describes as his board of advisors, are still very close friends, colleagues, and clients today.
Reyes continued strengthening his skills and growing professionally, and by 2008 he had become a senior manager. He had aspirations of becoming a partner, but given the Lehman Brother collapse in 2008 and the overall subprime mortgage crisis, that did not look promising.
Reyes was presented with an opportunity to work with a member firm of EY Global at the time. After much thought, he took the role—and excelled, working with clients in the middle market and driving business. A short time later, Reyes was promoted to partner.
All along the way, Reyes developed a reputation for completing good work. While he was doing well, he wanted to take on something a bit more entrepreneurial. That led him to Citrin Cooperman in 2017. Reyes joined to help the organization strengthen and grow its financial services practice.
“I bet on myself when I left my previous firm because I knew I had what it takes to contribute to overall strategy, take on a larger leadership role, and bring a perspective that would help grow the financial industry practice for Citrin Cooperman,” he says. “I wanted the chance to have a seat at the table and provide impact on a whole new level.”
Over the past five years, Reyes has done all he can to seize the opportunity. He’s helped build out the Citrin Cooperman financial services market strategy in the US and, over the last four years, has seen the company both expand into new geographies like the West Coast and build a stronger brand by focusing on exceeding client expectations and being a true trusted business advisor. These activities, and others, have brought double-digit growth to the practice in each of the past four years.
Although Reyes has done a lot to make an impact, the overall vision comes directly from the top. “We have a great management team that sets the tone for something we are all an active part of,” he says. “Big things happen when people understand their role and execute a detailed plan together.”
Leaders like Reyes work to filter that plan to their teams and practice areas. He uses monthly financial services committee meetings to communicate goals, progress, milestones, and feedback. “My job as a leader is to inspire and motivate so we can maximize everyone’s potential and achieve together,” he says, adding that Citrin Cooperman’s growth creates opportunities. Because of his team’s success, Reyes has been able to promote employees to director-level positions, hire lateral partners, add headcount, and expand services lines.
Reyes has his team set up to thrive in change as Citrin Cooperman continues to expand, and that’s been important to their ability to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The firm shifted to work-from-home in March 2020. Reyes’s clients in areas like private equity and venture capital, hedge funds, and broker-dealers were looking for guidance on what to do during such an unprecedented time. Citrin Cooperman formed a COVID-19 response unit to offer information on tax alerts, recession planning, and other industry-specific matters.
Additionally, Citrin Cooperman’s financial services practice continues to expand and serve emerging areas like blockchain, digital assets, fintech, and special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) as the entities continue to be one of the most popular new trends in the stock market.
These moves not only help Reyes and his team build closer bonds with their clients but also helps them rethink what business will look like in a post-pandemic world. “We helped our clients and employees through a hard time, and some of the tools we built and live remote events we offered will stay in our toolbelt moving forward,” says Reyes.
Now that he’s thriving in his industry, Reyes is looking for opportunities to give back and provide the same kind of mentoring that helped him launch his career. He believes mentorship is critical and stays active as a mentor to future leaders in the industry.
He is also passionate about working with first-time emerging fund managers as they look to raise capital, set up strong internal controls and financial reporting environments, and seek advice on how to set up structures that are most tax efficient.
Reyes also continues to be active in the Latino community and is part of groups like the New America Alliance (NAA) and the New York advisory council for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund as well as industry associations such as Hedge Fund Association, where he serves on the Global Board of Directors, and the New York State Society of CPAs Private Equity and Venture Capital Committee.
For Reyes, a good life came with good work—and a little help along the way. Now, he’s doing his part to make sure others can pursue the good life, too.