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Wipfli Announces Changing Roles for Leaders

Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP (FY18 net revenue of $317.9 million) has announced several changes to its leadership team, which became effective on June 1.

Seven of the firm’s senior partners are taking on expanded leadership roles as Wipfli welcomes Kurt Gresens as its new MP and 12 new partners from within the firm’s ranks. These changes are a result of Wipfli’s continued growth and its focus on preparing the firm for the future.

Partners with new roles are:

Kelly Arduino, Health Care Industry Leader, has over 18 years of experience in health care, with an emphasis in health care finance and strategy. She functions as a business advisor and facilitator for her clients and is often the liaison between and among health care organizations as they develop “partnerships” or other joint planning efforts.

Stephanie Cavadeas, Audit and Accounting Quality Control Partner, has more than 16 years of experience working in the nonprofit and governmental practice group overseeing audits of grant-funded nonprofits, community-based organizations, and associations/membership organizations. For the past several years, she has been in charge of Wipfli’s internal inspection program and has been highly involved with our triannual outside peer review.

Kelly Fisher, Practice Partner, has more than 17 years of public accounting experience in manufacturing, technology, professional services and international operations, including experience with a Big 4 accounting firm. Most recently, she focused on leadership and management of the firm’s tax practice. In her new role, innovation and strategic transformation will be a primary focus.

Ken Kortas, Business Solutions Group Leader, has more than 25 years of management and information technology consulting experience. He is a specialist in identifying business requirements and defining and implementing management plans. Business processes, organizational designs and information technology strategies are integral parts of his skill set.

Scott Nelson, Audit and Accounting Leader, has more than 30 years of experience serving clients in the manufacturing, wholesale, broadcasting, relocation and service industries. As a client relationship executive, he focuses on gaining an understanding of the client’s goals and managing Wipfli’s client service team to assist in achieving those goals.

Scott Schumacher, Tax Practice Leader, has more than 20 years of experience working with businesses to claim and substantiate a tax incentive for research and development activities. In addition, he works with closely held and family-owned businesses in the manufacturing and distribution sectors, providing them and their ownership group with tax compliance and planning services.

Dan Szidon, Core Services Leader, has nearly 30 years of professional experience at Wipfli, working in audit and accounting services, as well as consulting on various business issues. More recently, he has focused the practice on providing financial and consulting services and firmwide management.

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Wipfli Admits 11 New Partners

Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP (FY18 net revenue of $317.9 million) announced the continued growth of the firm with the promotion of 11 new partners effective June 1.

The newly promoted partners are based in the firm’s various offices across Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin.

“We are very pleased to welcome this diverse group of partners to Wipfli’s partnership. They embrace the firm’s core values and the outward mindset and will play a key part in helping us create a lasting, positive impact,” says Kurt Gresens, MP.

The firm’s new partners include:

  • Jaili Fajardo
  • Brian Gaumont
  • Casey Kretz
  • Chris Lockhart
  • Anita Mahamed
  • Kevin Scully
  • Nick Smith
  • Dana Springer
  • Ryan Swiderski
  • Michelle Swoboda
  • Mike Vaccarella

Wipfli’s 2019 partner class joins amid continued growth for the firm, which has also announced a new managing partner.

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Kurt Gresens Named MP of Wipfli

Kurt Gresens

Kurt Gresens

Kurt Gresens has become the new leader of Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP (FY18 net revenue of $317.9 million). Wipfli partners had previously elected Gresens, who will succeed Rick Dreher, who is completing the final term of his 13-year tenure as the firm’s MP and chairman of the board. The firm also announced that Kelly Fisher will take over Gresens’ current role of practice partner effective June 1.

Gresens has been a partner at the firm since 2006 and was elected to Wipfli’s board of directors in 2013. Most recently he has served on the firm’s leadership team as overall practice partner since 2016. During his career at Wipfli, Gresens has served a variety of clients across industries and played a key role in helping create the firm’s Vision 2020 and Wipfli 2025 strategies.

“Kurt first joined Wipfli in 1992 right after graduating from college and moved through the company’s ranks. His appointment as the new managing partner is an exciting milestone in our firm’s future and succession plan that the board has been working on for more than a year,” Dreher says. “Over the years, Kurt and Kelly have played key roles in the strategic growth and direction of the firm, and we are very confident in their ability to take Wipfli to the next level.”

“Under Rick’s guidance and leadership, Wipfli has achieved ambitious growth, and he has paved an excellent path for us to follow,” says Gresens. He adds that Fisher “brings with her a strong transformational mindset and extensive experience implementing new technologies. Her deep knowledge and ability to identify and put ambitious goals into action will help accelerate the firm’s transformation.”

Fisher, who previously led the tax practice, has more than 17 years of public accounting experience in manufacturing, technology, professional services and international operations, including experience with a Big 4 accounting firm.

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Arizona-based Firm TopLine Strategies Joins Wipfli

Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP (FY18 net revenue of $317.9 million) has announced that TopLine Strategies of Scottsdale, Ariz., joined the firm on June 1, marking the firm’s first office in the Southwest.

The firm integrates and develops sales, marketing and customer service technologies to corporations and institutions. Wipfli’s new MP, Kurt Gresens, says the Southwest has been targeted for Wipfli growth, and that the addition of TopLine will complement and deepen Wipfli’s wide range of IT consulting services. TopLine has been offering customer relationship management and business intelligence tools in the Soutwest for more than 30 years.

“Through this transaction with Wipfli we will have access to the firm’s broader network of services and resources to offer our clients so they can continue to capitalize on the opportunities ahead,” says TopLine CEO Tim Fargo says. “Our firm is also excited to team with a firm that is committed to the consulting model and places a significant emphasis on the role of technology in the future, which is a commitment both of our firms share. In addition, our employees will be provided additional opportunities for career growth and professional development, which will help us to continue to attract and retain the best and brightest in the industry.”

The merger is not the only one this year. Bedford, N.H.-based Howe Riley & Howe joined the firm Jan. 1.

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Wipfli Partners With Paladion For AI-Driven Managed Detection And Response Services

Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP (FY18 net revenue of $317.9 million) has announced that it has partnered with Paladion, a global provider of cybersecurity and managed detection and response services.

“Cyber threats continue to increase at an extremely fast pace with no signs of slowing down,” says Jeff Olejnik, PIC of Wipfli’s cybersecurity practice. “Today, it takes U.S. companies an average of 200 days to detect a data breach. Through our partnership with Paladion, we can reduce the response time to minutes.”

Managed Detection and Response (MDR) is unlike traditional managed security service providers (MSSPs) who provide alerts from security monitoring. MDR provides more extensive services than threat detection. It is an advanced managed security service that provides threat intelligence, threat hunting, security monitoring, incident analysis and incident response. MDR uses AI and machine learning to investigate threats, contain them and orchestrate responses.

“We developed our AI-driven MDR program to give businesses simplified access to next-generation cybersecurity, and our partnership with Wipfli will bring leading edge AI-driven threat detection and response to Wipfli’s clients,” says Rohit Kumar, who leads strategic partnerships at Paladion.

Wipfli chose Paladion’s MDR for end-to-end threat management that combines AI and automation, the firm says.

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Howe Riley & Howe Joins Wipfli

Rick Dreher

Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP (FY18 net revenue of $317.9 million) has announced that the partners and associates of Bedford, N.H.-based Howe Riley & Howe joined the firm Jan. 1.

“The combination with Howe Riley & Howe provides Wipfli with an opportunity to strengthen and expand our physical presence and our industry specialization model in New England,” says Wipfli MP Rick Dreher. “Further, Howe Riley & Howe has a strong reputation for providing top-quality and innovative services to clients, which greatly complements Wipfli’s long history and dedication to exceptional client service.”

Alison Perella, co-MP of Howe Riley & Howe says, “This combination with Wipfli will enhance our ability to continue to meet and exceed the evolving needs of our clients. In addition, leveraging Wipfli’s tremendous breadth and depth of consulting experience, this combination will provide our professionals with access to a larger resource pool of diverse experience to draw upon as necessary for our clients.”

Co-MP Lance Turgeon adds, “While we are looking forward to the greater depth of consulting services and added value this combination will bring to our client relationships, we are equally excited for what this combination will mean for our staff and our ability to continue to attract top talent in New Hampshire.”

Allan D. Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group, who advised both firms on the merger, says that Howe Riley & Howe drew attention from other acquirers, but firm members “loved the entrepreneurial culture of Wipfli as well as being the foundation firm in New Hampshire.”

This is not Wipfli’s first venture into New England. South Portland, Maine-based Macpage joined Wipfli last year. Macpage, which also has offices in Augusta, Maine, and Marlborough, Mass., is now Wipfli/Macpage in New England. Koltin says the Howe Riley & Howe deal fits with Wipfli’s goal to compete for clients of all sizes in the region. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wipfli continue its expansion in the New England market in 2019.”

Howe Riley & Howe, founded in 1950, has two offices, in Portsmouth and Bedford. The firm provides accounting, assurance and tax services to hundreds of privately held businesses and enterprises, nonprofit organizations and entrepreneurs across New Hampshire and New England. As part of this combination, 50 Howe, Riley & Howe associates, including six partners, have joined Wipfli.

Wipfli Financial Advisors Names New CEO

Jeff Pierce

Wipfli Financial Advisors, affiliated with Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP (FY18 net revenue of $317.9 million), has announced that Jeff Pierce has been named CEO, effective Feb. 11.

Pierce joins Wipfli Financial Advisors from Austin, Texas-based Dimensional Fund Advisors, where he served as vice president of advisor practice management.

“Our entire team looks forward to working with Jeff in growing our holistic, personalized planning approach, which will deliver even greater impact to our current and future clients in the months and years ahead,” says Julie Nichols, Wipfli Financial’s interim CEO and CFO. She will continue in her CFO role moving forward.

While at Dimensional Fund Advisors, Pierce provided guidance to hundreds of financial advisory firms on a wide range of practice management areas, including financial performance, operations, human capital, technology, and succession and ownership transition. He also developed and led two of the industry’s largest global practice management benchmarking studies.

“Jeff embodies Wipfli’s culture, core values and client-focused approach and is passionate about expanding the wealth management model and CPA-based philosophy we are building with Wipfli Financial,” says Rick Dreher, Wipfli’s MP.

Wipfli Enlists Cybersecurity Partner Program

Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP (FY18 net revenue of $317.9 million), a top 20 national accounting and consulting firm, has joined the NormShield partner program to expand its current cybersecurity solutions.

NormShield provides on-demand and standards-based cyber risk scorecards. The enhanced portfolio will provide Wipfli with a powerful tool to improve and reduce the risk associated with its clients’ supply-chain partners, third-party vendor networks and sensitive data.

“Many business leaders understand that cybersecurity is a moving target, and we firmly believe it’s our job to prepare our clients to manage their risk, circumvent potential consequences and protect their bottom line,” says Robert Cedergren, PIC of Wipfli’s risk advisory services practice.

According to a recent study conducted by Ponemon Institute, external cyber risks are some of the most dangerous companies face: The study indicated that more than 56% of companies experienced a third-party breach in 2017 and, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015.

“The NormShield cyber risk scorecard provides an objective, external measure of an organization’s cyber risk posture,” says Mohamoud Jibrell, CEO of NormShield. “We’ve taken a ‘new school’ approach to supply-chain risk monitoring that’s easy to understand and includes online, dynamic risk scorecards with straightforward letter-grades based on defined risk categories. The risks are then prioritized with detailed information on the severity of the risk and through the portal. From there, the NormShield scorecard details how to mitigate and remediate each identified risk.”

Through its relationship with NormShield, Wipfli will leverage the company’s ability to gather data in a non-intrusive way, classify the data into security risk categories, apply advanced algorithms to analyze and convert data into risk intelligence, generate easy-to-understand scorecards and dashboards, and provide detailed remediation steps to secure the networks from outside attack.

Wipfli Expands Presence into New England as Macpage Joins Firm

Milwaukee-based Wipfli (FY18 net revenue of $317.9 million), No. 19 on the 2018 IPA 100 list, has announced that South Portland, Maine-based Macpage has joined the firm.

Macpage, which also has offices in Augusta, Maine, and Marlborough, Mass., will become Wipfli/Macpage in New England. The nearly 100 Macpage professionals will join Wipfli’s team of more than 2,000. Wipfli now has 49 locations in the United States.

“Macpage is an excellent fit and will allow Wipfli to expand our physical presence into New England, while also increasing our depth and breadth of experienced resources on the East Coast,” says Rich Dreher, Wipfli’s MP. Dreher noted the two firms’ strengths in financial institutions and nonprofits.

Macpage, founded in 1956, is one of the largest accounting firms in northern New England. Macpage MP Graham Smith says, “By joining Wipfli we can now provide our clients with the wide range of audit, tax and consulting services and industry specialists of a national firm, while continuing to provide them with the same high level of personal service they have experienced from Macpage’s principals and staff over our firm’s history.

Allan Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group, who advised both firms, says, “Wipfli’s investment in technology and the depth of their consulting and advisory services are proving to be a major attraction to entrepreneurial firms throughout the country. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wipfli continue to grow in this region of the country in the next few years.” He continues, “Macpage is regarded as one of the most prestigious firms in New England, so this merger will very likely serve as a springboard for future expansion in the region.”

Wipfli Admits 14 New Partners

Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP (FY17 net revenue of $274.8 million) announced that effective June 1, it has admitted 14 new partners into the firm — made up of seven women and seven men across a variety of specialties. A top 20 accounting and consulting firm, Wipfli has its sights set on the future of the company, and is bringing up the next generation of leaders with this change.

The 2018 partner class includes:

  • Michelle Berkoben
  • Marci Boyarski
  • Cory Bultinck
  • Brad Collard
  • Stephanie Cavadeas
  • Kathy Enbom
  • Brian Lightfield
  • Jeff Olejnik
  • Joseph Paroubek
  • Katie Jo Raebel
  • Lucas Rocole
  • Kelly Runge
  • Brad Werner
  • Erika Young

“We couldn’t be happier about this new class of partners as Wipfli continues to expand our footprint,” says MP Rick Dreher. “Our firm is focused on an outward mindset to continually serve our clients more holistically and collaboratively, and these leaders help us do just that on a daily basis. As we make a continued effort to deep-dive into industry verticals and expand our service offerings, we are eager to look at the opportunities in our future.”