Mackenzie Regent, CPA, CA
As a competitive hockey player, Mackenzie Regent’s passion and competitive spirit helped to move Canada forward in international competition. She brought that same passion and heart into a career in finance and took the industry by storm, beginning with her inaugural role as a lead transactions advisory manager at Ernst & Young (“EY”)—and the leader selected to represent EY Canada, one of 20 worldwide leaders, at an international leadership conference. Over a nearly decade-long career that included a position with Scotiabank’s investment banking team, where she advised on numerous M&A mandates, equity raises, and high-yield debt transactions, Mackenzie’s profound affinity for deals grew. In 2019—at just 29 years old—she took her vast experience in mergers and acquisitions, financing, and accounting and co-founded Kalos LLP, a company dedicated to “Effectively moving the mid-market forward.” As the leader of the Calgary-based boutique transactions and financial due diligence advisory firm, the same passion and competitive spirit that drove her team to the worldwide arena now drives the success of middle-market business owners across North America—and a flourishing firm whose client base has tripled in just its first three years on the map.
Mackenzie’s reputation as a trusted advisor to companies looking to grow, exit, or raise capital is well known, as is Kalos’s ability to help their clients to double revenues and improve profits. The firm’s team has completed more than 55 mergers, acquisitions, and financing due diligence mandates totaling billions of dollars in transaction value and executed over 125 valuation and modeling mandates as Chartered Business Valuators. Additionally, their corporate tax planning and structuring has saved their clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes. As she leads her growing firm, Mackenzie continues to contribute her knowledge and expertise to the industry as a guest lecturer for the University of Calgary and a regular speaker at the Business Transitions Forum. Mackenzie met with us to share more about her background, where her passion for mid-market business owners comes from, and how Kalos is helping them to thrive.
Tell us more about Kalos and the story behind the company’s name.
Kalos is the Greek word for “good” and was historically used to describe warriors who held themselves to the highest moral standard on the battlefield. Today, the term perfectly describes our team of CPAs, whose 20 plus years of combined experience with Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG, and PwC have equipped them to maintain the highest of standards of Kalos. We empower continual improvement through strategic financial advice, planning, and accountability that elevates companies to the next level. We work on both the buy and sell sides of transactions and offer independent, non-commissioned, expert advice. We are dedicated to serving middle-market business owners; however, we also act as a trusted advisor to various family offices, wealth management, and private equity firms—performing due diligence on their potential investments.
What led you to start a firm that focuses specifically on business owners and the middle market?
It was probably inevitable that I would become a business owner. My mom had her own accounting firm that she ran out of the house to put food on the table. I watched what it meant to be an entrepreneur, but I also witnessed all the companies she helped. I think starting my own firm was always at the back of my mind, but I knew I would need to gain experience first. Big accounting firms are great places to begin a career and gain exposure to things you wouldn’t have seen otherwise, but many focus only on major public companies worth billions, whereas if you take that expertise and bring it to the middle market, you can really make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, and it’s very fulfilling. That we’re now able to help these businesses owners—this is what gets us up every day.
How does your unique combination of expertise as a CPA with an investment banking and financial due diligence background help your clients?
It all comes down to having a fantastic team of people who are infinitely qualified and who desire to make a difference in the mid-market. By combining my CPA background and transactions focus, with the management and valuations focus of other senior CPAs, we’ve created a unique, well-rounded experience. We can approach things from a multidisciplinary standpoint, design superior solutions for our clients, and navigate potential economic disruptions more effectively—just as we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What challenges are businesses facing due to COVID-19, and how is Kalos helping?
We’ve helped numerous companies secure the financing they need during COVID-19. One of the biggest challenges that businesses have faced is a disruption to their regular cash flow. However, as the saying goes, banks will give you money when you don’t need it, but not when you do. To help clients overcome this barrier, we’ve added value by sharing the compelling stories of these businesses with potential lenders and ensuring we put together what the banks require to pass the credit process and fund what the client needs. Lots of companies received government subsidies or grants, but they need more assistance to not only survive, but to pivot so that they can come out of the pandemic in a position of strength. That’s how we’ve been instrumental in getting clients the dollars they need to not only survive in a post-pandemic age, but to thrive.
As a former hockey player, does your competitive nature come through when helping clients?
It absolutely does. I have a very competitive spirit. For me, it’s about fighting the good fight. For example, we had to restructure a deal a handful of times to get it finished. The client’s business—and their entire personal net worth—was on the line, and we were not going to take no for an answer. We were working until 3-4 in the morning some nights to get it done—and we did. Some of our clients are facing significant financial challenges, especially as a result of COVID-19, and we do everything in our power to help them. One of our greatest motivations is knowing that people have invested their entire lives and family savings into these businesses, and by being able to provide support to them—especially in a period of economic turmoil—we get to walk away at the end of the day knowing that we made a real difference. There is no greater feeling.
Mackenzie Regent, CPA, CA
Co-Founder and Managing Partner