FIU Business Now Magazine Spring 2024
After Meeting at FIU Business, They Created a Blockbuster Firm

After Meeting at FIU Business, They Created a Blockbuster Firm

By Karen-Janine Cohen

Armando Hernandez (MST '96, BAcc '89) and Guillermo Andrade (MSF '95, BAcc '89) first met at honor society Beta Alpha Psi, whose dynamic FIU Business chapter has a reputation for networking and showcasing opportunities. The students soon became friends and eventually business partners who founded H&CO accounting and global services, a multinational firm that fills a niche few mined until Hernandez and Andrade made it their firm's nexus.

Started in 1992, H&CO helps families and companies invest in, and often relocate to, the U.S.

Andrade and Hernandez credit FIU Business with powering their success. After earning undergraduate degrees, Hernandez, H&CO's CEO, and Andrade, the firm's board chair, worked at separate firms, yet had similar experiences. "They used me as a translator," said Hernandez.

Andrade's Spanish-language skills were in demand as well. "Miami was fast becoming an international hub for foreign companies and investors and Hispanic clients were being assigned to me," he said, adding that Spanish speakers were more relaxed in their own language.

"I saw the need, and how hard it is to adjust," said Hernandez. The partners knew those emotions firsthand. Both immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba as teens.

Latin American clients fueled the business early on, but soon high-net-worth individuals, business owners, real estate investors and families with children studying or living in the U.S. followed. H&CO is now one of the largest independent accounting firms in the U.S., with more than 800 employees operating in more than 28 countries and overseeing investment both here and abroad.

Technology has created profound accounting changes, with routine tasks now mostly automated, while professionals focus on analysis and advising, noted Andrade. "Our business is going more and more into the consulting aspect of the profession and less into the bookkeeping role," he said.

Now, finding skilled workers is H&CO's biggest challenge. The company often hires graduates of FIU, whose educational approach maintains the excellence that so inspired Andrade and Hernandez. And FIU professors foster a transformative vision of success, especially for young immigrants, hungry for opportunity, Hernandez said. What's more, he added, FIU alumni tend to stay in the area and help build the community.

Hernandez, who sits on the FIU Business MBA Board of Advisors, hopes others find his and Andrade's experience inspiring. "Everyone has the power to achieve success through education, hard work, dedication and perseverance," he said.

When not working, Hernandez spends time boating and fishing, while Andrade has a passion for ancient and medieval history.