McMasters was the first female to serve as CEO of a top 50 certified public accounting firm. She is the only woman to have served in that role.
She became co-CEO with Gordy Viere when Clifton Gunderson merged with LarsonAllen a year ago. He had been LarsonAllen's CEO and will now assume the role of sole CEO for CliftonLarsonAllen.
According to a release from the company, the two CEO structure will be dropped.
"At the first anniversary of our merger, the CLA Board reviewed the firm's co-CEO structure and determined that operating under the leadership of one CEO will increase the pace of integration of our two firms and give better definition to our firm's strategic initiatives. As a result, Kris elected to retire and Gordy Viere will assume the sole CEO role," said Steve Meindl, Chairman of the CLA Board. "Kris has been an incredible asset to our firm during her 35 year career. Her vision, passion and dedication to our firm played an integral role in our growth and success over many years. Her legacy lives on in our firm through the many people she mentored and developed."
McMasters joined Clifton Gunderson as an associate accountant in 1978. She became a partner in 1985, director of assurance services in 1991 and then served as chief practice officer. She was named CEO in 2009.
As CEO, she led an aggressive growth plan, including the merger that created CliftonLarsonAllen on January 1, 2012. She focused on external expansion and increased specialization, collaboration, discipline and communication, the firm said.
McMasters also developed a new human resources strategy that helped the company hire the right people and develop them. The program reduced turnover and made Clifton Gunderson a leader in recruitment.
She earned a bachelor's in accounting from University of Illinois and is a certified public accountant. McMasters was named among the "Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting" by "Accounting Today" several times.
Viere started at Minneapolis-based LarsonAllen in 1975 and was named CEO in 1989. He led the expansion of the firm throughout Minnesota and the U.S. in the 1990s. In the 2000s, he led growth through acquisitions throughout the country. By 2011, it had 40 offices and about 1,800 employees, with revenues of about $280 million.
CliftonLarsonAllen has more than 3,600 employees in 90 offices nationwide.
The company has not made a decision about whether its dual headquarters structure—Milwaukee and Minneapolis—will remain intact, according to a company spokesperson.