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RKL Introduces De Stefano as New CFO

Michael De Stefano

Lancaster, Pa.-based RKL LLP (FY17 net revenue of $67.9 million) has announced that Michael De Stefano has joined the firm as CFO, succeeding Kevin Lightner, who retired from the firm April 30 after 18 years as CFO.

As CFO, De Stefano will lead and manage financial operations in close collaboration with RKL leadership.

De Stefano’s new role marks his return to the firm where he began his career. In 1995, he began as a staff accountant and rose to the position of audit manager. De Stefano became the controller of a large transportation and logistics company in Middletown, Pa., in 2009, and most recently served as the company’s CFO and vice president of finance.

“We thank Kevin Lightner for his dedication and service to RKL, and wish him the best in the future,” says RKL CEO Edward W. Monborne. “We’re proud to welcome Mike De Stefano back to RKL and we look forward to his contributions toward RKL’s continued growth and success.”

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RKL Wealth Management’s Stephanie Etter Promoted to Chief Compliance Officer

Stephanie J. Etter

Stephanie J. Etter

RKL Wealth Management LLC, a subsidiary of Lancaster, Pa.-based RKL LLP (FY17 net revenue of $67.9 million), announced that Stephanie J. Etter has been promoted to chief compliance officer.

In her new role, Etter is responsible for developing and monitoring the firm’s compliance program, ensuring that all activities of the firm meet regulatory requirements and acting as a liaison with legal and regulatory bodies on compliance-related issues.

“We congratulate Stephanie on her promotion to this significant leadership role for our firm. Her years of experience in operations working in conjunction with our compliance professionals combined with her dedication to client service excellence make her a natural choice for this new role,” says president Laurie Peer.

Etter most recently served as the firm’s operations manager and served as a liaison between the operations team and top management while establishing and implementing processes and procedures. Prior to joining the firm, she spent 16 years in the wealth management industry.

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RKL Expands Research & Development Tax Credit Practice

Benjamin J. Fortner

Benjamin J. Fortner

Lancaster, Pa.-based RKL LLP (FY17 net revenue of $67.9 million) announced that Benjamin J. Fortner has been named leader of the firm’s expanded research and development (R&D) tax credit practice, which is part of the tax services group. Joining Fortner is Kerrie A. Wesley, who serves as R&D credit practice manager.

“Now that research and development tax credits are more widely available to even more industries, we’re proud to welcome highly regarded professionals like Ben Fortner and Kerrie Wesley to grow RKL’s R&D tax credit practice and help businesses across the nation take full advantage of this economic incentive,” says RKL CEO Edward W. Monborne.

Thanks to recent regulatory changes that removed limitations and expanded eligibility for these tax credits, more companies of various sizes and industries can reliably plan to use the credit dollar-for-dollar against their tax liability.

The practice specializes in partnering with all sizes of companies to capture tax benefits from development and improvement activities. Beyond the assessment and analysis to uncover current opportunities, the team also develops and implements internal procedures to position companies to track expenses and activities eligible for future credits.

“Most companies are underserved by the standard approach to R&D tax credit applications,” Fortner says. “The RKL team employs a custom approach and crafts a tailored analysis around the development process specific to each clients’ eligible research activities. This model translates into real dollars for our clients.”

Fortner has overseen hundreds of R&D tax credit studies in a wide variety of industries including architecture, engineering, construction, large-scale manufacturing, material production and mining, agriculture and precision metal machining.

Wesley has a successful history of creating tangible value for businesses in a number of industries, including manufacturing, tool and die, construction, architecture, mechanical contractors and agriculture.

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RKL Admits Hurst and Woll to Firm Partnership

Ryan P. Hurst

Lancaster, Pa.-based RKL LLP (FY17 net revenue of $67.9 million) announced that Ryan P. Hurst and Ruthann J. Woll were admitted to the firm’s partnership Jan. 1.

Hurst was named a partner in RKL’s business consulting services group and Woll is the firm’s newest partner in its tax services group.

“These two professionals are well respected in their fields of expertise, trusted by their clients and colleagues and focused on positioning businesses and organizations for real, sustained growth,” says RKL CEO Edward W. Monborne.

Since joining RKL in 2017, Hurst has helped expand RKL’s advisory services to support a wider range of organizations. His expertise is in business valuation, succession planning and mergers and acquisitions. He advises clients on buying and selling companies, constructing employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and evaluating their strategic alternatives. Hurst leads RKL’s transaction advisory services practice. Hurst was also recently recognized as one of the Reading Eagle’s 40 Under 40 award recipients.

Woll oversees RKL’s individual tax planning and compliance efforts and leads the firm’s nonprofit tax niche. With more than two decades of tax accounting experience, Woll is an expert in these areas has helped clients adapt to the new tax reform legislation. She speaks on individual and nonprofit tax topics for client board and committee members, professional associations and industry organizations.

RKL Wealth Management Announces Change in Leadership

Laurie M. Peer

RKL Wealth Management (RKL WM), a subsidiary of Lancaster, Pa.-based RKL LLP (FY17 net revenue of $67.9 million) today announced Laurie M. Peer has been named president. Peer succeeds Sarah Young Fisher, who led the firm since 2005. Fisher has assumed the role of president emeritus.

“We are grateful to Sarah for her leadership in evolving RKL Wealth Management into the respected investment advisory and financial planning firm it is today,” saus RKL CEO Edward W. Monborne. “Laurie has been an integral member of the RKL WM executive team and will continue to deliver the collaborative and highly personalized client experience that is a hallmark of RKL WM.”

In her new role, Peer will oversee firm operations, drive its growth strategy, lead the team of more than 20 professionals and continue to enhance the integration of client experience between RKL WM and RKL’s CPA and business advisory services. Peer previously served as the firm’s executive vice president and is also a partner of RKL LLP.

During Fisher’s 13-year tenure as president, RKL WM experienced tremendous growth, surpassing $1 billion in assets under management/advisement at the end of 2017. In her new role as president emeritus, Fisher will continue to serve the wealth management needs of her clients full time and also serve in an advisory capacity to the RKL WM team.

RKL Wealth Management’s Boyer Honored as “Forty Under 40” Leader

Nicholas Boyer

Lancaster, Pa.-based RKL Wealth Management LLC, a subsidiary of RKL LLP (FY17 net revenue of $67.9 million), has announced that Nicholas Boyer has been named one of Central Penn Business Journal’s 2018 “Forty Under 40” recipients. This annual award program celebrates the most accomplished young leaders in mid-Pennsylvania for their commitment to business growth, professional excellence and community service.

“Nick exemplifies everything the ‘Forty Under 40’ award is about. His leadership abilities and strategic vision are an asset to our firm, our clients and our community,” says Sarah Young Fisher, president of RKL Wealth Management.

Boyer serves as chief investment strategist for RKL Wealth Management, which has $1 billion in assets under management. He manages the firm’s investment team and chairs RKL Wealth Management’s investment committee. Before joining RKL Wealth Management in 2016, Boyer gained a decade of experience in the financial services industry. From 2000 to 2004, Boyer served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan.

Women and Men Report Starkly Different Experiences at Big Law

The work experiences of women and men are vastly different within the nation’s largest law firms, according to a new study commissioned by the American Bar Association (ABA).

The study, which surveyed more than 1,300 participants from the nation’s 350 largest law firms, was designed to help retain women, who are leaving the law profession earlier in their careers and in larger numbers than men, according to an Aug. 3 article in The American Lawyer.

The greatest divergence emerged in questions about sexual harassment and gender bias.

  • Unwanted sexual conduct or contact? The answer was yes from 49% of women and 6% of men.
  • Demeaning communications? Yes, said 74% of women and 8% of men.
  • Mistaken for a lower-level employee? Yes, 81% of women reported. Not one man responded yes.
  • Denied a salary increase or bonus? Yes, reported 54% of women and only 4% of men, the study said.

The report also revealed significant differences in perceptions of advancement of women in Big Law between female partners and managing partners.

  • Are firm leaders “active advocates” for advancing women? Among MPs, 80% said yes while 61% of female partners agreed.
  • Do firms promote women into leadership positions? Three-quarters of MPs said yes versus 54% of female partners.
  • Is gender diversity a priority? Of the MPs, 79% said yes, while 54% of female partners answered in the affirmative.
  • Are firms doing a good job of promoting women into equity partnerships? Among MPs, 71% said yes while the number was 47% among female partners.

“The longer I do this, the more frustrated I have become that we continue to have to ask these same questions: Why are there so few women who make it to the level of equity partner? Why are there so few women on compensation committees? Why are there so few women managing partners?” said ABA president Hilarie Bass, who commissioned the study. “It really begs the question of what we need to do to have more women in these upper levels, if in fact almost half of women have left by the time they’re 50.”

The survey asked about men’s and women’s general level of satisfaction within Big Law to help answer the question of why women are leaving their firms. Again, the differences were wide.

  • Satisfied with compensation methods? Yes, said 69% of male partners versus 44% of female partners.
  • Satisfied with recognition received? Yes, said 71% of male partners and 50% of female partners.

For lawyers with more than 20 years of experience, the survey asked about home life responsibilities as well.

  • Do you arrange child care? Yes said 54% of women, but only 1% of men did so.
  • Do laundry? Yes, reported 42% of women and 8% of men.
  • Leave work often for their child’s needs? Yes, reported 34% of women versus 5% of men.

Stephanie Scharf, of Chicago’s Scharf Banks Marmor, said many of the suggestions will be aimed at changing law firms. She is chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and took part in conducting the survey.

“In looking at the parameters where women are much less satisfied than men, all of those factors are pretty much within the control of the law firm,” Scharf told the American Lawyer. “We did not see differences in opinion [between men and women], for example, on the challenge of your work or the individual responsibility of your work. I underline that because I do believe this is within control of the employers.”

The full report will be released around Labor Day.


Given the importance of Millennials and Generation X to the future of the CPA profession, in 2016 INSIDE Public Accounting and ConvergenceCoaching analyzed input from more than 700 young professionals at CPA firms across the country, providing a focused look at what it takes to engage and retain these key team members. You may access the complimentary report.

RKL Expands Presence in Greater Philadelphia Region

Lancaster, Pa.-based RKL (FY17 net revenue of $67.9 million) is expanding its presence in Greater Philadelphia to deliver a wide range of business advisory and financial solutions to organizations throughout the region. RKL LLP announced that it has opened an office in Exton, Pa.

“RKL’s new Exton location will allow us to more comprehensively serve our growing client base in the Greater Philadelphia region and establish new relationships within the local business community,” says RKL CEO Edward Monborne. “As today’s companies face increasingly complex challenges, we believe RKL’s breadth and depth of advisory solutions uniquely positions us to meet those needs today and tomorrow.”

RKL partner Barry Pelagatti manages operations of RKL’s newest location in Exton, in addition to his leadership of the firm’s financial services industry group.

“Growing our presence in the Greater Philadelphia region presents a number of opportunities for our valued clients and the RKL team,” says Pelagatti. “We’re excited to bring our results-focused approach to position companies and organizations in Chester County and beyond for sustained success.”

RKL Names Gutierrez Director of Human Resources

Kathy Gutierrez

Kathy Gutierrez

Lancaster, Pa.-based RKL LLP (FY17 net revenue of $67.9 million) announced that Kathy Gutierrez was promoted to the role of director of Human Resources, effective May 1. In her new role, Gutierrez oversees all facets of the firm’s HR function, including recruiting, training, policies and benefits, performance management and other strategic team initiatives.

“Kathy’s firsthand experience working with the RKL team as well as her knowledge of our growth strategy, processes and opportunities for continued success will be of tremendous benefit to the firm,” says Edward Monborne, RKL CEO.

A certified human resources professional, Gutierrez has been a central figure in RKL’s HR department since joining the firm in 2013. She previously managed the firm’s learning and development initiatives, devising a robust slate of training opportunities to support RKL’s continually expanding capabilities. As RKL evolved beyond the traditional CPA firm into a professional services leader, Gutierrez played a key role in ensuring team members had the resources and training to bolster not only technical expertise but also an advisory and cross-disciplinary approach to client engagement.

RKL Launches Human Resources Consulting Practice

Lancaster, Pa.-based RKL LLP (FY16 net revenue of $61.5 million) launched a human resources (HR) consulting practice as part of its business consulting services group.

The practice comprises a team of experienced HR professionals focused on providing solutions for finding, compensating, training, motivating and retaining talent. The group specializes in advisory services that are aligned with solving real business challenges such as complying with complex regulatory issues, filling key leadership roles amidst generational shifts or developing compensation packages that help drive results.

“RKL is uniquely positioned to play a central role in our client’s overall business strategy – be it financial, operational or strategic. This practice grew out of clients tapping into the strong HR leadership we have here at RKL and has taken off from there,” says Edward Monborne, CEO.

The HR consulting practice is led by Danielle Hoffer who was recruited by RKL in 2013 to manage the internal HR function and position it as an employer of choice. A tenured HR consultant with more than a decade of experience, Hoffer served in dual roles for the firm’s internal needs as well as external client service. As the practice has grown, Hoffer has added two professionals dedicated exclusively to the team and transitioned fully to client service in January 2018.

“In addition to leveraging our core team’s expertise in human resources, we’re uniquely positioned to tap into the multi-disciplined perspective of the broader RKL team. This results in meaningful solutions to people issues, which touch all areas of an organization’s operations,” says Hoffer.

The HR consulting practice currently serves clients in a wide variety of industries including manufacturing, professional services, government, health care, nonprofit and others. The firm’s relationship-based service approach and flexible working arrangements allow for solutions that are highly customized to meet the client’s unique objectives.