IPA Spotlight On … Sheila Enriquez

Sheila Enriquez

Sheila Enriquez

Name: Sheila Enriquez

Title: Managing Shareholder-Elect

Firm: Houston-based Briggs & Veselka Co. (FY17 net revenue of $36.2 million)

Accomplishments:

  • Elected managing shareholder of Houston’s largest independent CPA firm and will assume the role from John Flatowicz on July 1.
  • Leads the firm’s forensic, valuation and litigation support services, and its consulting practices.
  • Named one of the “Women Who Mean Business 2017: Outstanding Leaders in Banking and Finance” by the Houston Business Journal. 
  • Serves on AICPA Governing Council and the Texas Society of CPAs Board of Directors.

The AICPA says that in 2016, only 2% of CPA partners were Asian/Pacific Islander. Also, according to IPA’s data from 2017, of all IPA 100 firms, no Asian/Pacific Islander was MP and only one held the top job outside the Big 4. Do you feel any special responsibility, as a first-generation American, to increase diversity within the profession?

In our firm, over 20% of shareholders are of Asian descent and we have professionals who speak 17 different languages. I am a first-generation immigrant, who came to the U.S. on a scholarship to pursue a college education, and have now lived in Houston for over a decade. According to census data, it is the most diverse city in America. The 2017 AICPA trends report says the pipeline of CPAs in 2016 reflect a greater percentage of non-whites, with 37% graduates and 41% enrollees in undergraduate programs. This increasing pipeline is encouraging, and I am very passionate about promoting the CPA profession and increasing its visibility to students below college. I believe this will naturally increase the diversity within the profession.

You said you’d like Briggs & Veselka to become a top 50 firm in the nation. How do you plan to achieve this goal, through acquisitions, organic growth or both?

The short answer is “all of the above.” We are committed to remaining a legacy firm, which means we will remain independent. We understand that this requires investment in people, processes and technology, which we are ready, willing and able to do. Our organic growth will be focused in strengthening our core services of tax and audit, while thoughtfully expanding into related advisory services to provide better value to our clients and opportunities for our staff. Acquisitions are also part of our growth strategy, and we will continue to look for the right fit for acquisitions in new or expanded niche services and/or geographic markets in the region.

How do you envision the audit of the future at your firm?

One thing my firm is good at is embracing innovation. In fact, we have a firm-wide Technology and Innovation Committee made up of partners, managers and administrative staff that keeps a pulse on new technology and innovation, and makes recommendations and implements new solutions. In audit, we are transforming how we deliver our services, supported by the adoption of new software to better access client data, and building data analytics into our work programs. The buzzwords in the profession are AI, robotics and RPA, and we are actively exploring the best ways to implement these to make our audits more efficient and effective, and allow our audit staff to focus on more value-added activities for our clients.

Which areas of advisory services at the firm are ripe for expansion?

We’re basically integrating consulting in all aspects of our traditional core services, such as SALT, international tax and tax provision services in our tax group, and internal audit, outsourced accounting, pre-audit and technical implementation of new accounting standards consulting in our audit group. We are also building specific consulting niches, such as forensics, valuation, litigation support, transaction advisory services and IT consulting. IT consulting is an area of growth given the cybersecurity risks our clients are facing, and the opportunities for process improvement. While the skills to deliver these advisory services emanate from our core competencies, we believe that pivoting these skills to the new economy are vital to creating value and relevancy with our clients. At the same time, we are creating new opportunities for our people to expand their scope and career trajectories.

Final thoughts?

I’m honored to assume the leadership of a firm that has created such a market presence in Texas, and I am committed to being a good steward to continue its success. Our firm has grown throughout our 45-year history, thanks to the leadership of Johnny Veselka, our founding shareholder, who led the firm in its first 37 years, and followed by John Flatowicz, who grew the firm three-fold during his tenure. Both of them epitomize our core values of excellence, dedication and compassion. I have been blessed to have John as a mentor during my 11+ years at the firm, and I’m blessed that he will help guide and shape our future.