Archives for April 2015

Crowe Horwath Welcomes Personnel from Saslow Lufkin & Buggy

Chicago-based Crowe Horwath LLP (FY14 net revenue of $153.6 million) has reached an agreement with Simsbury, Conn.-based Saslow Lufkin & Buggy, LLP (SLB) to have its partners and professionals join Crowe on July 1. SLB is an accounting and consulting firm serving clients throughout the country, mainly in the insurance industry.

Established in 1999 by Richard Buggy, Glenn Saslow and Robert Lufkin, SLB is one of the nation’s leading providers of accounting, tax and consulting services to the property and casualty insurance industry. The firm, which has 90 professionals, including eight partners, also serves a variety of New England health care entities and hospital systems and has a well-developed employee benefit plan practice.

With the addition of clients from SLB, Crowe will nearly triple its number of insurance clients and its insurance industry revenue. These will be the first Crowe locations in Connecticut and Vermont.

“Our goal is always to provide an exceptional client experience and, with SLB personnel joining our team, we’re able to enhance our deep specialization in the areas of insurance, health care and benefit plans,” says Crowe CEO Jim Powers.

“Joining Crowe is a great fit with our values and way of doing business,” says Buggy, MP of SLB. “Being part of a national firm that is part of an international network will provide our clients with access to broader resources while also providing significant benefit to our personnel through expanded career opportunities.”

BDO USA Named One of the 25 Best Places to Work for Recent Grads

Chicago-based BDO USA LLP (FY14 net revenue of $833 million) has been named one of 2015’s 25 Best Places to Work for Recent Grads by Symplicity, the leading provider of career services management solutions. Symplicity describes the 2015 list of honorees as organizations that offer fun and supportive company cultures, sweet paychecks and extraordinary opportunities for rapid career growth. Accenture, General Motors, Nationwide, Nestle, Protiviti and SAS were among the other winners. Visit Best Places to Work for Recent Grads for a complete list of this year’s winners.

“This award demonstrates our commitment to providing a supportive culture, professional training and outstanding career paths for our employees.”

“As the fastest growing national accounting firm and an active recruiter of new college graduates, BDO is thrilled to be among this prestigious list of organizations cited for their positive culture and career opportunities,” says Stephanie Polon, director of campus recruiting and generational strategy advisor at BDO USA. “This award demonstrates our commitment to providing a supportive culture, professional training and outstanding career paths for our employees.”

“Millions of students and alumni are turning to Symplicity each year to find their best match for employment. It is our core mission to help those job seekers find a clear career path and the best-fit employer. This initiative allows us to identify those employers who succeed in providing an outstanding environment for recent college grads,” says Bill Gerety, CEO of Symplicity. “We’re proud to celebrate the 2015 Best Places to Work for Recent Grads winners in earning this recognition.”

Howell Joins Weaver as Director of Transaction Advisory Practice

Kaci Howell

Kaci Howell

Fort Worth, Texas-based Weaver (FY14 net revenue of $88.1 million) admitted Kaci Howell as a director in transaction advisory services. She oversees business valuation services and is based in the firm’s Houston office.

“Kaci’s leadership skills and expert knowledge in business valuations will continue to help Weaver better serve our clients,” says Brian Reed, PIC of transaction advisory services.

Most recently, Howell worked as a senior manager at BDO Consulting supporting the valuation and business analytics practice. Howell has years of experience in providing valuation services to both public and private clients in a variety of industries.

Howell has performed valuations of business entities for financial reporting compliance, tax compliance, mergers and acquisitions, marital dissolution purposes and other litigation matters. She has demonstrated a strong focus on fair value, performing reviews and analysis related to goodwill impairment, long-lived asset impairment, purchase price allocations, options and other derivatives and investments held by private equity funds.

“I want to welcome Kaci to Weaver and I look forward to the valuable insight she brings to the firm,” says Tommy Lawler, Weaver’s MP and CEO. “We are fortunate to gain a professional who has demonstrated excellence for years in her specific technical area.”

Jacobs Named Chief Marketing Officer at Friedman

Jill Jacobs

Jill Jacobs

New York-based Friedman LLP (FY13 net revenue of $72.6 million) announced that Jill Jacobs has joined the firm as chief marketing officer. Jacobs, who has 25 years of experience in professional services, will lead the marketing and communications strategy for the firm.

Jacobs’s experience includes developing strategic marketing plans for a variety of practice specialties; creating integrated lead generation programs, including email campaigns and seminars; overseeing communications, such as social media and websites; and presenting workshops on marketing and business development.

Prior to joining Friedman, Jacobs was the chief marketing officer and marketing director at two Northeast CPA and advisory firms. Previously, she was an international marketing consultant, guiding business owners in expanding globally.

“We are delighted to have Jill join the Friedman family,” says co-MP Harriet Greenberg. “Her talent for creating and executing cohesive marketing strategies as well as her energy and drive will be key assets to the firm as we continue to grow and evolve.”

“Friedman is personally committed to helping its clients and employees achieve their goals,” says Jacobs. “I’m honored to be part of a firm that blends top-notch expertise and performance with the highest measure of collaboration and care.”

How Smaller Accounting Firms Can Excel In Today’s Hyper-Competitive Environment

By: Russ Alan Prince, Forbes Contributor

Generally speaking, smaller firms need to add value-added advisory capabilities and do a good job of communicating their expertise to targeted audiences. Doing so will enable them to remain competitive and excel in an increasingly difficult marketplace.

The accounting industry is comprised of a number of colossuses, many mid-tier firms and thousands of small firms. In a bustling economy – think pre-2008 – most smaller firms were able to do quite well. At that time, compliance services were in high demand, and it was relatively easy to cultivate new clients. Those days are long gone.

According to Joe Tarasco, CEO of Accountants Advisory Group, “One of the keys to success for small accounting firms is being able to provide integrated solutions. While continuing to deliver compliance services, small firms need to develop and highlight value-added advisory capabilities. They have to use these advisory capabilities to differentiate themselves. Many of the larger firms are growing because of their advisory services, and this approach can be duplicated by smaller firms.”

At the same time, smaller firms would usually be well served by identifying and focusing on certain niches and specialties. For example, one of the biggest growth opportunities for smaller firms is the family office practice. “By bundling a variety of capabilities often including tax planning, compliance and bill paying, the accountant becomes a trusted advisor to high-net worth clients,” says Tarasco. “What’s more is that well managed family office practices can readily generate margins reaching 75%. It is unquestionably one of the most lucrative types of practices for an accounting firm. It also can be a very effective way to generate business for the other practices in the firm.”

Presently, smaller firms must become disciplined, agile and business development oriented. They have to develop high margin value-added advisory capabilities such as family office practices. Very importantly, they must communicate to potential clients and centers of influence the depth, breath and level of their expertise. Failing to do so makes them “hidden talents,” who fall way short of their business potential.

Combining high caliber value-added advisory capabilities with effective outreach – think thought leadership – smaller accounting firms can be extremely successful. Failing to do so can result in a slow demise or – the more common consequence – being adsorbed by larger accounting firms.

AICPA Celebrates 25 Years of Top Technologies for CPAs

By: Susan Pierce

What was technology like 25 years ago? In 1989, when the AICPA conducted its very first Top Technology Initiatives survey (TTI), the most popular technologies discussed were the spreadsheet and, of course, something called the Internet.

It’s 2015; dial-up is a relic and cloud-based alternatives to physical backups are much more common. Today’s technologies thrive on a 24-hour, cloud environment that enables cross-platform collaboration.

The 25th anniversary North American TTI Survey conducted in 2014 expounded on this trend in the profession and broke down the top IT priorities in the United States and Canada, with more than 3,000 CPAs and chartered accountants weighing in on the most pressing issues affecting their delivery of service in firms, and in business and industry.

Here is a list of the top 10 U.S. initiatives ranked by priority. I will elaborate on the top IT concern below.

  1. Securing the IT environment
  2. Managing and retaining data
  3. Ensuring privacy
  4. Managing IT risks and compliance
  5. Preventing and responding to computer fraud
  6. Enabling decision support and analytics
  7. Managing system implementation
  8. Governing and managing IT investment/spending
  9. Managing vendors and service providers
  10. Leveraging emerging technologies

Securing the IT Environment

Accounting professionals are confident they are able to secure their traditional IT systems, yet the majority feel they don’t have a strong grasp on security protection due to the impending threat of cyber-attacks. As a result, securing the IT environment came in as the top IT concern for 2014.

Less than 50% of the respondents say they’ve addressed all relevant threats, including cloud, mobility and social media, indicating a real need for accounting professionals to educate themselves by discussing the issues at hand and connecting with the cloud operations, datacenters and governing agencies that work to monitor and manage these security concerns. Organizations should perform a comprehensive risk assessment of their physical and logical infrastructure, networks, data and personnel to realize which policies and technologies they can put in place to mitigate the risk of cybercrime, data breaches, theft, fraud and more. As a result, CPAs must establish internal IT security, while also working with clients or upper management to make sure data and communications are secure.

– See more at:

McGladrey Expands in California and Missouri

Chicago-based McGladrey LLP (FY14 net revenue of $1.5 billion) announced that it has reached an agreement in principle to acquire substantially all the assets of San Diego-based PKF San Francisco and Wolfe Nilges Nahorski (WNN) of St. Louis. McGladrey expects to enter into definitive agreements and close both transactions on Aug. 1.

The transactions will enhance McGladrey’s presence as a leading provider of assurance, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market in the Bay area and St. Louis markets. The firms will join existing McGladrey offices in both cities.

“Joining forces with PKF San Francisco and WNN is an important step in McGladrey’s vision to be the first-choice advisor to middle market leaders across the country,” says Joe Adams, MP and CEO of McGladrey. “Enhancing our existing practices in both markets will enable us to more broadly serve businesses there while creating opportunities for our clients and our people. We look forward to welcoming our new team members.”

PKF San Francisco serves its clients in San Francisco and the surrounding area, and has earned a reputation for being a firm of trusted business advisors with a strong commitment to excellence. The firm includes one managing director and 13 client service and support staff employees offering assurance and tax services.

Wolfe Nilges Nahorski has a long history of serving clients in the St. Louis metropolitan area and has earned a reputation for building strong, lasting relationships with clients. The firm includes four partners and 40 client service and support staff employees offering assurance, tax and consulting services.

MaloneBailey Announces Retirement of Founding Partner Malone

John Malone

John Malone

Houston-based MaloneBailey LLP announced that after four decades of serving the accounting profession, founding partner John Malone will be retiring from the firm in May 2015.

Malone founded MaloneBailey in 1982 as a general practice including a service offering of audit, tax, bookkeeping and consulting services – the standard ‘full service’ mix that the majority of local CPA firm practices have today. By the mid-90s, Malone realized a void in the accounting industry, specifically that small public companies were underserved.

Malone is credited with revolutionizing the way audits are conducted for small public companies by instituting a number of changes to the standard CPA firm practice model to maximize the efficiencies that the smaller SEC companies require: lower costs, faster service and more competent work product. Such changes included early transition to a 100% paperless approach and remote auditing capability to serve clients around the world and across the nation from its Houston headquarters as well as a robust in-house training program and recruiting initiative to attract top talent from universities nation-wide.

In 1996, the firm had two SEC reporting clients. Today, the firm has over 190 SEC registered clients, including NYSE, NASDAQ and AMEX listed companies, and six full-time SEC audit partners, placing it as number seven in the world in terms of the number of U.S. public company clients it serves. MaloneBailey is in exclusive company as one of nine in the world that audits more than 100 issuers annually, and for this reason, is inspected on an annual basis by the PCAOB. MaloneBailey participates in more than 700 SEC filings per year and has more full time SEC specialists on staff than most firms have SEC clients.

“I am truly grateful for the tremendous support I got from our community, the various professionals who helped me directly along the way, and our great employee team,” says Malone. “I couldn’t have done this without you. I have accomplished my life’s dream of building from scratch the world’s largest and highest-quality SEC microcap audit firm, a position we have held since 2006. It is time to step down and let my outstanding partners lead the charge to our next round of growth.”

Prior to founding his own firm, Malone held audit positions at Deloitte & Touche and two large local Houston firms, Pannell Kerr Forster & Co. of Texas, PC (formerly Goldberg Westheimer & Co.) and Weinstein Spira & Co.

“John is a legend in the microcap public company audit space. He is a visionary whose innovative approach to the microcap public company audit has had a lasting, profound impact on the industry. We are sad to see John go, but so honored to be part of this firm he built. John’s passion for what we do and the respect he has for his clients are what made MaloneBailey the market-leading firm we are today. We would not be here without him. Thank you, John, and congratulations,” says George Qin, audit partner.

Weber Shapiro & Company Joins Alliott Group

Ramsey, N.J.-based Weber Shapiro & Company LLP has been selected for membership in the Alliott Group. Weber Shapiro & Company (W&S) provides businesses and individuals with a full range of accounting and consulting services, including international taxation and global business services.

In addition to a comprehensive roster of domestic clients, W&S provides services to businesses and individuals in a number of international locales, including France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Sweden and Portugal. The W&S team offers expatriate taxation services and expert guidance in corporate structure and formation for foreign businesses seeking to operate in the U.S.

“Becoming part of the Alliott Group reinforces our ability to help clients from the U.S. and abroad address the complexities of global taxation and other international business issues,” says Mark Weber, W&S partner. “We are very proud to be the only company in New Jersey to be invited to join this global association.”

“Our firm has a longstanding record of providing service excellence by staying at the forefront of the changing legal and professional environment, both in the U.S. and abroad,” says Luzmaria Concannon, W&S principal. “We look forward to discussing current issues affecting the international business and tax environment with Alliott Group members at this conference and throughout the year.”

Five California Women Receive Awards for Excelling in Accounting, Volunteering

A Vietnamese refugee, an executive recruiter and the only Latina California lottery commissioner are among five women who today received Women to Watch Awards from the California Society of CPAs (CalCPA). The women were honored during a daylong Women’s Leadership Forum.

Kim Le

Kim Le

CalCPA presented Kim Le with its Trailblazer Award, which recognizes an individual with a story so inspiring, it deserves its own category. The founder and CEO of A2Q2 of Redwood City, Calif., Le is a Vietnam refugee who grew up in Minnesota. Her firm’s services include SOX compliance initiatives, internal audits and mergers and acquisitions due diligence and integration.

Le is heavily involved in community activities, including working with and speaking on behalf of Ascend Leadership, a nonprofit organization for Pan-Asian business professionals.

Katie McConnell

Katie McConnell

Tapped for the Emerging Leader award was Katie McConnell, director of recruitment and development for Roseville, Calif.-based Gallina LLP (FY13 net revenue of $37.1 million). Besides launching Gallina’s executive recruitment service for its clients, McConnell has mentored accounting students at her alma mater, California State University, Sacramento.

Jennifer Farr

Jennifer Farr

Three women received the Experience Leader Award: Jennifer Farr, shareholder and lead managing director at Cleveland-based CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann PC’s (FY13 net revenue of $532 million) Irvine, Calif., office; Bertha Minnihan, a partner with and national practice leader in employee benefit plans for Seattle-based Moss Adams LLP’s (FY13 net revenue of $403 million) San Francisco office; and Connie Perez, a partner with Brown Armstrong Accountancy Corp. of Pasadena, Calif.

Farr specializes in providing audit and tax services to charitable organizations, foundations and government agencies. In addition to her duties with CBIZ, she is the chair of the financial review committee of the United Way of Orange County. In 2013 she started monthly Mission Luncheons, a program at her office in which local nonprofit executives discuss their mission and seek volunteers from the firm’s employees.

Bertha Minnihan

Bertha Minnihan

Minnihan is a recognized authority on employee benefit plans and has frequently spoken about the topic at national and regional conferences. She currently serves as chair of the annual CalCPA employee benefit plans audit conference. Minnihan also is an active community volunteer, including currently serving on the finance committee for the Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County and on the advisory committee for the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University.

Connie Perez

Connie Perez

Perez serves on the AICPAs’ national commission on diversity and inclusion. She also is the only Latina commissioner on the California State Lottery Commission and is a board member and treasurer for the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce.

In 2012, Perez founded the first career day at her former grammar school, Woodville Elementary, Porterville, where 14 speakers shared their stories with students predominantly from the nearby labor camp where her family once lived.

CalCPA selected the experienced and emerging leader recipients in partnership with the AICPA and the AICPA’s women’s initiatives executive committee. The Trailblazer Award was presented solely by CalCPA.

Criteria for both the emerging leader and experienced leader categories included community or public service. Candidates for the Emerging Leader Award also were evaluated on their demonstration of leadership, contributions to the profession, creation and implementation of unique initiatives and involvement with educational institutions.

Additional criteria for the experienced leader category included authorship of articles, contributions to the CPA profession and mentorship of other professionals.