Name: Heidi LaMarca
Firm: Windham Brannon
Title: Managing Partner
- Being elected MP at Windham Brannon of Atlanta (FY14 net revenue of $21.3 million), one of the leading tax, audit and advisory firms.
- Being a member of the Executive Committee of the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center.
- Chairing the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Conference.
Just after you were elected MP of Windham Brannon in October, your firm announced record revenue growth in two key practice areas: restaurant and franchise, and strategic growth advisory services, which launched in 2014. What’s driving growth in these areas?
While we continue to see a trend of growth firmwide, these two segments in particular have evolved over the last year.
Our restaurant and franchise segment saw phenomenal growth at the end of our fiscal year last year, which can be attributed to increasing our client base with national restaurant concepts, as well as offering expanded services, including virtual accounting.
Strategic Growth Advisory Services is fairly new to our firm, but since its addition in late 2014, growth and client acquisition has accelerated exponentially. It’s an area that’s unique in the accounting industry and offers businesses at the crossroads of large business decisions – such as mergers and acquisitions, international expansion and explosive growth – the strategic insights and counsel needed to maneuver quickly and efficiently during critical time periods.
The Department of Labor (DOL) Audit Quality Study released last year showed CPA firms that conduct fewer than 100 plan audits annually have a high deficiency rate. There has also been a significant effort by the DOL to educate plan sponsors about their fiduciary duty to hire service providers that specialize in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). I expect to see the ERISA segment growing as firms get out of the business and plan sponsors look for specialists.
How is Windham Brannon guiding the next generation of accountants?
We place great value in fostering, educating and training our employees so that they can grow and we can promote from within. And, we have a high retention rate to reflect just this.
Every employee at the firm has his or her own personal Windham Brannon coach to help in developing their individualized career path. In addition, we offer an internship program for graduates and current students. Each intern is paired up with an orientation partner to guide them through their first few months at the firm.
We also offer paid continuing professional education and training for our teams at all levels, tuition reimbursement for approved graduate level courses, paid participation in the Becker Review program and reimbursement for CPA exams after they pass.
Finally, the firm supports various scholarships through the Windham Brannon Foundation and the Georgia Society of CPAs.
What’s the biggest challenge women in the profession face, and how did you overcome those challenges?
I think the biggest challenge is balancing the required workload in public accounting “busy season” with home life and raising a family. I have been with Windham Brannon for 21 years, and the firm is very flexible on how and where employees work. If a woman needs to take time off for family reasons, we find a way to make whatever alternative schedule works for the firm and for her. I took three months off for the birth of each of my children. I make a point to be home for dinner every night. If I have more work to do, I get to it after putting the kids down to bed.
Any long-term plans or goals for the firm that you’d like to share?
Certainly, our biggest goal is to grow our practice areas and services to better serve and meet our clients’ expanding needs.
Know someone else who’d make a good spotlight? Contact Christina Camara.