SHRM Reveals the 50 Best Small and Medium Employers to Work for in America – CPA Firms On The List

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Great Place to Work Institute, Inc. announced the nation’s top 25 small and top 25 medium-sized companies to work for in America. 

The annual rankings of the “50 Best Small and Medium Companies to Work for in America” are conducted by GPTWI, and are ratings of employee satisfaction and workplace culture. This is the sixth year SHRM and GPTWI have collaborated on the list.

A complete list of CPA firm winners are:

Phoenix-based Heinfeld, Meech & Co. (FY07 net revenue of $7.9 million); Tewksbury, Mass.-based Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico; Bellevue, Wash.-based Clark Nuber (FY08 net revenue of $27.2 million) [an IPA Best of the Best firm];   Denver-based Ehrhardt Keefe Steiner & Hottman (FY08 net revenue of $52.8 million) and  Roseland, N.J.-based Rothstein Kass (FY08 net revenue of $168.4 million) [an IPA Best of the Best firm].           

Congratulations to them all…

Plante & Moran Acquires Cincinnati Firm

Southfield, Mich.-based Plante & Moran (FY08 net revenue of $286 million) acquired the Cincinnati, Ohio firm of Jackson, Rolfes, Spurgeon & Co. effective July 1.

The firm, which has a staff of 50, will operate under the Plante & Moran brand. Current MP of JRS & Co., Jim Rolfes will continue as MP of the Cincinnati office.

“JRS is an outstanding match for us in many ways,” says incoming MP Gordon Krater. “First and foremost, the merger will enable the firm to strengthen its presence in Cincinnati and build on P&M’s 85 years of growth in the Midwest,” he says.

P&M curretnly has offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo Ohio. Jackson Rolfes specializes in manufacturing, construction, real estate and auto dealerships.

FASB Explains Free and Subscription Access to Codification

 The Financial Accounting Standards Board has stated its terms for access to advanced research functionality for the new accounting rule book that takes effect July 1.

FASB will offer free access to a basic view of the Accounting Standards Codification, which is about to become the new, sole authoritative source for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. The basic view will provide access to the Codification homepage, with all accounting guidance from all authoritative sources organized by topic, including relevant guidance from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

 The basic view will facilitate a means to relate the topically organized guidance with the original accounting standard that made it part of GAAP. It also will provide some basic functionality to print accounting standards.

Turbulent Times Survival Series – Managing in a Turbulent Economy – Survival or Opportunity

In my discussions with CPA firm managing partners, there has been a consistent concern as to what effect the current economy will have on their firms following tax season. Many (most?) firms rely heavily on compliance services to provide the majority of revenue. These services, including preparing financial statements and tax returns, generally report on the past. In fact, it could be said that many CPAs spend most of their time looking at the past. However, the opportunity for a firm to provide value-added services and differentiate itself in the market place lies in forward thinking.

Tough times call for better management and businesses need their CPA to help them survive the current economic downturn. This is an opportunity for firms to elevate their level of service and relationship with their clients.

Frequent communication, listening intently and some good old-fashion hand-holding when needed can move the relationship to that of trusted advisor. Here are several areas where CPAs can apply forward thinking to help their clients:

Risk Management:

 1. Client education – discuss the increased risks facing the business.

 2. Perform a risk assessment of internal and external factors and provide solutions to mitigate findings.

 3. Determine where the company may be vulnerable to fraud.

 4. Review internal controls and compliance with policies.

 5. Assess possible loan covenant violations and work out a plan to meet requirements.

 6. Counsel the client on the potential risks brought about through downsizing the workforce.

 7. Provide surprise bank account reconciliations.

 Internal Finances:

 1. Assist the client in preparing their survival plan, especially if going concern issues exist.

 2. Prepare cash flow projections and update them periodically.

 3. Prepare financial budgets assuming several scenarios and determine the plan of action for each.

 4. Review expenditures for opportunities to eliminate those not providing a satisfactory ROI.

 5. Review planned capital expenditures with an eye toward deferring them into future periods.

 6. Specifically identify expenditures that should not be deferred so as to strengthen the company for the eventual economic upturn, such as training and marketing.

 7. Review inventory levels and the receivable aging for opportunities to increase cash.

 8. Consider preparing a refinancing plan to improve cash flow.

 9. Analyze product and service line results and determine their viability.

 Internal Operations:

 1. Devise a plan to retain the valued workforce and improve employee morale.

 2. Look for opportunities to improve processes and systems in the office as well as in production thereby reducing inefficiencies, waste and bottlenecks.

 Other:

 1. Review tax law changes that may improve cash flow.

 2. Assist the client in brainstorming additional services and products.

 3. Revisit retirement, estate and succession plans.

 CPAs have an opportunity to exhibit their real value to their clients. In doing so, they will strengthen their relationship with them and differentiate themselves from the competition.

Taking a proactive approach will transform the firm from being known for providing compliance services to one specializing in consulting. And that reputation will serve the firm well beyond the current economic downturn.

 About the author: Timothy I. Michel, CPA is a consultant to CPA firms and a former managing partner of a Top 100 CPA firm. He helps CPA firm owners create value in their practice by drawing on his own experiences to assist them in identifying and overcoming obstacles and focusing on opportunities to increase growth and profitability. For more information, visit the website at www.michelconsultinggroup.com or contact Tim directly at tim@michelconsultinggroup.com.

PricewaterhouseCoopers Releases Statement on Potential Fraud – Using Coopers & Lybrand Name

It has been brought to our [PricewaterhouseCoopers] attention that individuals purporting to be from an organization calling itself ‘Coopers & Lybrand’ or ‘Coopers & Lybrand Law’ (and using a web site which includes ‘cooperslybrandlaw’, or a variation on this phrase, in its domain name) have been approaching potential investors to sell or buy shares in certain companies which we believe are worthless. There is no law firm called ‘Coopers & Lybrand Law’. This organization is using the ‘Coopers & Lybrand’ name without our consent and such use is illegal and infringes our intellectual property rights.

The facts are that ‘Coopers & Lybrand’ was the name of some of our predecessor firms which, in July 1998, merged with Price Waterhouse firms to form the global network of PricewaterhouseCoopers firms. We no longer use the ‘Coopers & Lybrand’ name or brand.

If you are contacted by anyone using the name ‘Coopers & Lybrand’ or ‘Coopers & Lybrand Law’ in relation to financial investments or otherwise, please contact Daniel Pocus if you are in the United States and Mike Davies, Director, global public relations, if you are outside the United States.

Livingston, N.J.-based Wiss Forms New Consulting Practice

Livingston, N.J.-based Wiss & Company (FY08 net revenue of $28.5 million) has formed a new consulting practice, Wiss Business Solutions, LLC. WBS will provide clients with innovative approaches to evaluating their internal business processes and assessing and managing risk to improve operations and maximize corporate value.

WBS will provide services such as internal audit outsourcing, accounting and finance support, corporate governance evaluation, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance assistance, information technology audits and assessments such as business continuity planning and disaster recovery, and holistic analysis of business operations and processes. According to Wiss Managing Partner Jeff Campo, “the establishment of WBS is timely in the current business climate. Given the economic environment, clients are continually examining their operations in an effort to maintain strength in the market. Wiss has been able to assemble world-class talent to serve to guide clients in achieving their goals and objectives.”

WBS will be led by Raymond Paolantonio, who joins WBS after many years working with organizations in the business consulting arena as well as holding executive audit positions in global companies. According to Campo, “Ray brings a tremendous focus, expertise and experience to the consultative side of business, enabling our clients to garner seasoned guidance from someone who can speak to them in a common sense business language. We know that under Ray’s leadership WBS will position itself as a true leader in the business community for years to come.”

Grant Thornton Names New Global CEO And New U.S. CEO

Grant Thornton International named Edward Nusbaum, the current chief executive, as Global CEO effective January 1. Nusbaum succeeds David McDonnell who is retiring from the position after eight years.

“I am delighted that Ed has been appointed as my successor,” says McDonnell. “There was an extremely strong and rigorous process for the selection of the new CEO and I believe Ed will do a great job in moving GT forward, he adds.”

Stephen Chipman will replace Nusbaum as the next CEO of Grant Thornton. Chipman was most recently chief executive officer, Greater China Management Corporation, responsible for leading the development and growth of services for GT in China. Under Chipman’s leadership during the last two years, GT’s resources in China have expanded significantly to more than 1,600 people in six offices.

“We are making strategic investments in talent in industry expertise, technical expertise and international expertise, so that, when we come out the other side of this weak economy, we will have enhanced and grown and built some of our talent capabilities,” Chipman said, noting that, due to the economy, the firm has more access to people with developed skills in these areas than it ordinarily would have.

Grant Thornton’s U.S. unit has grown its employee base by more than 11 percent in the past two years, to about 5,970 employees and partners at the end of fiscal 2008, according to the firm.

Nusbaum has been chief executive of the Chicago-based Grant Thornton U.S. arm since 2001. Under his leadership the firm tripled in size, with annual revenues growing from $400 million to $1.2 billion. “I am greatly honored and look forward to the opportunity to lead GTI,” says Nusbaum. “I will dedicate myself to continuing GT’s tradition of strong leadership in the accounting profession and in speaking out on issues of importance.

Bob Moritz Selected as PricewaterhouseCoopers’ U.S. Chairman and Sr. Partner

PricewaterhouseCoopers named Robert Moritz as the firm’s U.S. Chairman and Senior Partner for a four-year term beginning July 1. Moritz will succeed Dennis Nally, who will begin a four-year term as Global Chairman of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Network next month. Nally has served as the U.S. Chairman and Senior Partner since 2002.

Moritz has held a number of leadership positions at PwC. Since 2006, Moritz has led the firm’s Assurance business, which provides audit, assurance and accounting expertise, and he serves as a member of the U.S. firm’s leadership team and the global assurance leadership team. He previously served as MP of PwC’s New York office and the metro region and led the firm’s U.S. financial services practice. He joined PwC in New York in 1985.

PwC CEO Samuel DiPiazza, Jr. will be stepping down and retiring effective July 1. DiPiazza will remain with the firm until Fall 2009. DiPiazza served as CEO of PwC International Limited since 2002 and previously led the PwC U.S. firm as Chairman and Senior Partner, and was a member of the Global Leadership Team.

DiPiazza joined PwC’s U.S. firm in 1973 and became a partner in 1979. He was elected to the U.S. Firm Council in 1986, and headed the Birmingham, Alabama and Chicago offices before being named Midwest Regional MP in 1992. Two years later he became the Regional MP of the New York Metro Region, with a dual role as Client Service Vice-Chairman. In 1998, Sam was named the Americas Leader for Tax and Legal Services, and in 2000 he was elected Chairman and Senior Partner of the US firm.

DiPiazza currently serves as a Trustee of the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation, as Chairman of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, and as an Executive Committee member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum. He is also the Chairman of IBLAC (International Business Leaders Advisory Council to the Mayor of Shanghai) and has served as a Trustee for the Financial Accounting Foundation. In addition, Sam is a member of the Executive Committee and the immediate past Chairman, Board of Trustees of The Conference Board, Inc.

Accountants Rank Soft Skills as More Important for Leaders Than Technical Skills

Accountants have strong opinions about what constitutes leadership in this economy, according to a new survey by Ajilon Finance, a leading specialty finance and accounting staffing firm, and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). The survey, which polled over 700 accountants as part of IMA’s Inside Talk Webinar Series, found that leadership priorities change depending on whether the economy is good or bad but that certain workforce activities and initiatives remain non-discretionary investments at companies, such as training and development and workforce flexibility.

Among key findings, the survey found that leadership priorities change depending on the performance of the overall economy. In good economic times, accountants say the top three most challenging decisions for leaders to make are: recruiting and retaining top talent (47%), pursuing growth opportunities (42%) and maintaining a competitive edge (42%). In contrast, productivity, or doing more with less, motivating the workforce and pursuing growth opportunities, are the top challenges facing leaders in poor economic times, representing 49%, 44% and 33% of responses, respectively.

Other key survey findings include:

 Soft Skills Beat Hard Skills:  According to the survey, one-third  (33%) of accountants feel an ability to inspire and motivate is the  most important quality of leadership in the 21st century followed by communications skills (15%) and people management skills (13%), all soft skills. In contrast, accountants said that hard skills such as  global knowledge/expertise, financial acumen and keen decision-making were more rewarded leadership qualities at their organizations.

Training still a non-discretionary expense: Despite the downturn,  workforce training remains an important investment for many companies with 31% of survey respondents saying training is a non-discretionary expense at their companies. Other non-discretionary expenses include: workforce flexibility (27%), succession planning (26%), leadership  development (25%) and enhancing the company’s brand (25%).

Accountants Say They Need Time, More Than Anything Else: When asked what they need most to be effective leaders, most accountants (29%)  said more time. Only 14% of respondents said more money and 13% said more influence over others.

“Although leadership priorities change depending on the state of the economy, taking leadership in your career and your life is important no matter what your role,” said David Adams, vice president of training and development at Ajilon Finance. “Whether it involves finding ways to cut costs in your own department, using your access to marketplace research to provide support for new business or just being a cheerleader in your office, there are numerous ‘soft skills’ finance professionals can employ to demonstrate leadership in their jobs today. And, while soft skills are very important, it doesn’t mean a leader should be soft.  The trick is finding the right balance in motivating your staff to perform at the highest levels both individually and as a team.”

Accounting Professionals Are Speaking Out on the Current Financial Industry Crisis in a Nationwide CPA Poll Provided by U.S. News

As part of an industry that is closely tied to and deeply affected by the nation’s economy, CPAs have been provided an open platform by U.S. News & World Report to voice their opinions about the current economic recession, rapidly changing regulations and related financial topics.

American taxpayers want to know the accounting professionals side of the story on today’s hottest issues. Responses to the poll will be included in a national news forum published by U.S. News & World Report.

It only takes a few minutes to take part in the poll. CPAs can log into the poll at http://www.usnews.com/speakup with the user name: usnewscpa and password: accountant.

Once logged in CPAs will be asked thought-provoking questions, such as:

-What kind of influence will the new administration have on the accounting industry?

-Could the accounting profession have prevented today’s financial crisis?

-Who or what is most responsible for the global economic crisis?

-Some industry bloggers contend that auditors should be taking more responsibility for the financial crisis. Do you agree?

-What is your opinion of the government bailout of the financial services industry?

As a CPA, you have a better-informed perspective of financial industry issues than almost anyone. That’s why U.S. News & World Report is reaching out to accounting professionals nationwide to express their views on the recent financial headlines and controversies. Not only will your opinions be published in a national news forum, but you’ll also receive a FREE eight-week digital subscription to U.S. News Weekly!

“The benefit of this nationwide CPA poll is to find out what CPAs really think about our current economic situation and then to publish those informed opinions in the national forum published by U.S. News & World Report,” stated Nathan M. Bisk, Founder and Publisher of Bisk CPEasy. “This is our industry’s chance to speak up and speak out about issues affecting our nation and to get our voices heard by regulators and lawmakers.”

The nationwide CPA Poll and U.S. News & World Report subscription offer are available through June 30, 2009. Don’t miss this opportunity to speak out today!