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GW Carter Joins BKR

BKR International has announced the acceptance of GW Carter Ltd. of Edina, Minn., into the accounting association’s membership.

GWC is a boutique tax firm, which was selected to provide international tax services through the association, with a particular focus on the tax needs of foreign nationals and United States citizens abroad. GWC was established in 2010 by Gary W. Carter who continues to lead the firm.

DS&B Ltd. of Minneapolis remains the exclusive BKR representative in the Minneapolis/St. Paul market, says executive director Aiysha Johnson. “Its leadership gave consent for BKR to engage in membership discussions with GWC due to their noncompetitive focus on international tax services.”

BKR also accepted into membership Elias & Asociados of San Salvador, El Salvador, and Auditores Externos Varela & Patiño Cia. Ltda. of Guayaquil, Ecuador.

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BKR Survey: Full Adoption of Remote Work Slow, but Possible

Aiysha (A.J.) Johnson

Aiysha (A.J.) Johnson

By: Aiysha (A.J.) Johnson, BKR International

Professional job posts have a newer feature. It’s called “remote,” and it proactively tells applicants that the physical location of their work is negotiable. Depending on the job search site, applicants can find 30,000 to 60,000 listings for remote work at any given time. It is defined as employees working in a physical location almost exclusively outside of the company’s offices – even another state or country. And it’s not limited to sales positions.

Although remote work has always been an option in some industries, the accounting profession is moving slowly toward this option as a way to retain and attract the best talent. For the industry’s more consultative future, will remote work become the norm rather than the exception?

To get a pulse, BKR International asked member firms about their expectations for remote work arrangements in the near future. Their responses indicate that full adoption may be slow, but possible and attractive. Here are four real scenarios to consider for your firm.

Scenario 1: It is a unique situation.

Some firms adopted a remote work arrangement years ago in order to employ a professional with a special skill set. At Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Albrecht Viggiano Zureck & Company, one employee has worked remotely for two decades.

“She lives in Maryland and works on government entities on the audit side of the practice,” says Kenneth Laks, a partner at AVZ and a BKR Americas board member. “Around six times a year, she will come up to New York, but most all of the work is done remotely from her home,” Laks adds. “It has worked out very, very well…but again she is known and trusted from building a confidence with us over time.”

Many firms note that a remote work arrangement is still considered on a case-by-case basis rather than as a general opportunity available to anyone. While firms have written policies regarding flexible scheduling arrangements, including occasional work-at-home options, a true remote work arrangement is still tailored to the needs of the firm and clients as much as for the employee.

Scenario 2: It’s a method to keep key talent.

For Gumbiner Savett of Santa Monica., Calif., (FY18 net revenue of $21.1 million), a formal work-from-home policy for qualified individuals as well as one full-time remote employee communicate options to candidates — as well as to current staff.

“We are open to remote work options with existing staff we want to retain,” says Irene Valverde, director of human resources and practice development. “We are a digital office, so everything is accessible to employees via our network. Our phone system also allows for forwarding of outside calls so that communication is seamless.”

Although Valverde doesn’t see remote work as a possibility for all positions, the firm evaluates the option based on individual talent and responsibilities. “We have no formal plans right now to hire remotely, but we are open to it,” she says.

Scenario 3: It’s a method to hire needed talent.

Now that more firms have adopted cloud-based technology and mobile devices, openness to remote workers has improved from just a few years ago. Still, few if any firms actively advertise for remote positions.

“When we hire, we are hiring for specific talent. So, for the right talent, we are willing to consider remote work arrangements,” says Mark Thomson, managing director of Ostrow Reisin Berk & Abrams of Chicago (FY18 net revenue of $29.5 million). “We currently have four remote employees,” he says.

Technology has made remote work easier and more secure, but firm leaders don’t focus on the tools alone. “We believe that the key to hiring great remote talent is to set expectations at the outset – outline key performance indicators, goals and communication standards to set remote workers up for success,” Thomson adds. “You still must meet with remote employees, and outline their specific arrangement, so that everyone is on the same page and the employee understands expectations.”

Scenario 4: It’s a business strategy.

Performance is paramount whether an employee works in the office or remotely. However, the firm leaders interviewed on this topic agree that the hunt for talent necessitates alternative ways of thinking about service delivery and growth.

“We also recognize that, as the market for hiring public accounting talent continues to be tight, firms will need to search outside of their geographic location, whether it be outside the state or even the country,” says Thomson.

Remote hiring becomes more of a business strategy when it’s about how the team can best serve clients, too. For example, a coastal, mid-sized accounting firm focused on alternative energy may establish a “wind power” team in the Midwest. Maybe the talent is more available there. It’s cheaper for younger professionals to live there, plus it’s also near clients. To adopt this mindset as a growth strategy will take time, policy and technology. But firm leaders are certainly discussing and preparing for their options.

A.J. Johnson is executive director of the Americas Region for BKR International, the global accounting association with 160 independent accounting and business advisory firms in over 500 offices and 80 countries.

BKR International Names Raymi Mejia New Americas Regional Board Chair

Raymi Mejia

Raymi Mejia

BKR International has appointed Raymi Mejia, partner at Mejia Lora & Asociados (MLA) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as chair of the Americas regional board.

Mejia has served as a board member for BKR’s Americas Region since 2012 and, most recently, as the board’s vice chair. He has been instrumental as a liaison with Latin American and Caribbean member firms for the association. He will also represent the Americas region on BKR’s worldwide board.

Mejia has more than 25 years of experience in audit and tax. He has served as an advisor in the negotiations of transfer pricing agreements between the National Association of Hotels and Restaurants and the General Directorate of Internal Taxes. He has vast experience in the hospitality sector, participating in audit and tax advice to the main international hotel chains with locations in the Dominican Republic.

“As we focus on the firm of the future, it is vital that our Americas regional board sustains leadership from both emerging and developed economies to best represent the global market,” notes A.J. Johnson, BKR’s Americas regional executive director. “

BKR International has also appointed Kenneth B. Laks to the Americas regional board for three, two-year terms. Laks is a partner at Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Albrecht Viggiano Zureck & Co. (AVZ). AVZ has been a member of BKR International since 1986. Laks is a frequent presenter at BKR member conferences around the world on issues regarding international taxation. He serves as chair of BKR’s worldwide international tax committee and is also a member of its Americas regional international tax committee.

Karen Brenneman, MP at Hall Kistler & Company of Canton, Ohio, and ex-officio chair of BKR’s Americas region will remain a member of BKR’s worldwide board.

More news from BKR International 

BKR Survey: Five Types of Flexibility Young Professionals Desire

AJ Johnson

By: AJ Johnson, executive director, Americas Region, BKR International

More accounting firms are promoting flexibility as a benefit when creating job descriptions and recruitment materials. However, the concept of flexibility can mean different things to different candidates, as BKR International discovered when surveying its current Leadership Institute participants at a recent training event in Las Vegas.

Flexibility is not just one thing – such as a flexible schedule. We found that it has a broader definition to young professionals, who view it as an important part of the firm culture.

According to the survey, here are five ways that accounting firms can promote flexibility and communicate it to candidates and their current professionals:

  1. Flexibility in scheduling

Young professionals have led the trend in flexible workdays that allow them to schedule appointments or run errands or handle a family issue without missing deadlines. This kind of outcome-based management provides autonomy for the employee and leverages technology in ways that the strict 9-to-5 mandate never could.

It’s a two-way street, of course, and professionals need to demonstrate respect for firm goals and client needs within a more agile schedule. That means sometimes working late and on weekends or attending unexpected meetings to handle workloads.

  1. Flexibility in approach

We’re not talking about the strict protocols and procedures in some areas of public accounting. It’s more about what young professionals contribute to efficiency, tools and ideas. Employees who believe that their ideas are taken into account, and even adopted, have a greater sense of ownership and purpose in the firm.

Even if your firm has tried something in the past, don’t be quick to dismiss the input from new or younger employees. They may surprise you with their logic and ability to fill in knowledge gaps you didn’t even know you had.

  1. Flexibility in dress

This isn’t a new area of flexibility, but firms may need to stretch a bit from “blue jeans Saturdays” to “dress for your day” options. Employees appreciate choosing dress that matches their responsibilities from day to day. For example, if they are visiting a construction site, it makes sense to dress for the client environment.

In addition, on days when employees are working behind a desk all day with zero client contact, comfort is a nice perk. It’s easier to transition to the gym or pick up young children for appointments after work. Keep the dress code, but define how people can flex it.

  1. Flexibility in self-expression

The most enlightening definition of flexibility I heard was flexibility in self-expression. It means that their opinions matter to firm leaders. It also means that they aren’t marginalized for their interests or personal values, which will help to maintain talent.

Whether a person is devoted to a faith tradition or has a beloved pet instead of a child, the firm environment should feel welcoming and equal in its opportunities. There is a difference between written employment policies and how the culture truly demonstrates openness to differences. Keeping in mind that personal values don’t interfere with the mission and integrity of the firm, differences can also be great for business.

  1. Flexibility in career trajectory

As firms hunt for talent and work to keep great people, they are exploring ways to remain flexible to change. Remote work arrangements, job sharing and part-time work are evolving from options to a permanent career choice in some cases. Examples include retaining a professional who moves to another state or providing the option for a formerly full-time employee to transition to part time (and back to full time later).

It’s important to discuss flexible career paths case by case. Clarify how the change in position ties to promotions or career growth at the firm, and make sure the rest of the team understands the role change too. What I’ve noticed in my interactions with members is that flexibility has a different meaning to each employee. As a result, firms are challenged with meeting a diverse set of employee needs while establishing and maintaining systems that make sound business sense.

Overall, young professionals view flexibility as a cultural must. Second only to enjoying the people and clients they work with, it’s a primary reason that they love and stay with their firms.

AJ Johnson is executive director of the Americas Region of BKR International, which represents more than 160 independent accounting and business advisory firms in over 500 offices and 80 countries. The BKR Leadership Institute has graduated more than 300 leaders of member firms.

Rosen Named Worldwide CEO of BKR International

Howard Rosen

Howard Rosen

BKR International has appointed Howard Rosen in a new role as Worldwide CEO, effective Jan. 1. Rosen will assume the international responsibilities of BKR International Executive Director Maureen Schwartz, who will retire at the end of 2018.

As Worldwide CEO, Rosen will oversee administrative leadership and communication between the Americas Region, based in New York, and the executive directors in the EMEA Region (London) and Asia/Pacific Region (Sydney).

“We were fortunate to have Maureen Schwartz serving as both the Americas Region and Worldwide executive director for many years,” says Rosen. “As the size of our association has grown, the Worldwide Board has been working on a leadership transition over the last few years.”

Maureen Schwartz

Maureen Schwartz

A search for a new Americas Region executive director is underway, and Rosen will support that transition of leadership. He is a past Americas Region Chairman and Worldwide Chairman. He was also a managing partner in a BKR International member firm for many years.

“Howard brings a broad range of important skills and attributes to this position,” says Jacqueline Wolfovski, BKR’s Worldwide Chair. “In addition to his public accounting experience, he has traveled throughout the world to both developed and developing countries. He has a deep understanding of accounting firms worldwide and the challenges we face.”

BKR International Announces Two New Members

BKR International announces two new member firms in the Americas Region, Warwick, R.I-based DiSanto Priest & Co. and Atlanta, Ga.-based Nichols Cauley & Associates.

DiSanto Priest & Co., established in 1963, provides accounting, audit, tax, management and other professional services. With 11 partners and a staff of 48, the firm specializes in real estate, wholesale distribution, manufacturing, professional services and Yellow Book audits.

Nichols Cauley & Associates has grown to more than 100 team members in nine offices throughout Georgia. The firm offers a range of accounting, attest and business advisory services. Clients include closely held and public companies, physicians’ groups, government entities, banks and individuals, to name a few. Team members hold a range of certifications to perform services such as business valuations, information technology audits, fraud examination, financial planning and risk management assurance.

“Each of these firms represents their region of North America exclusively for BKR International,” says Maureen Schwartz, BKR International executive director. “Geographic exclusivity is a benefit of membership in BKR International, and it provides members’ clients with resources through the BKR International global alliance.”

BKR Welcomes Disanto Priest as New Member

BKR International announced the acceptance of Warwick, R.I.-based DiSanto Priest & Co. into membership.

Established in 1963, DiSanto Priest & Co. provides an array of accounting, audit, tax, management and other professional services. With 11 partners and a staff of 48, the firm specializes in real estate, wholesale distribution, manufacturing, professional services, and housing and urban development.

Partner of Paris CA Firm Elected First Woman Chair of BKR International

BKR International

BKR International

Jacqueline Wolfovski, a founding partner and executive committee member of Paris-based Exponens, has been elected to serve as world chair of BKR International, a global association of 163 independent accounting and business advisory firms.

“I am committed to promoting the accounting profession for the next generation, and we will work to expand our tools and resources for the good of our members, their people, and the clients they serve all around the world,” says Wolfovski.

“Ms. Wolfovski has been an active member of BKR International since her firm was accepted into membership in 1993,” says Maureen Schwartz, executive director. “Ms. Wolfovski served as chair of BKR’s EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region from 2002-2004, and was appointed to our worldwide board in 2014, serving as vice chair/treasurer. We are now grateful she has accepted the most important role in BKR, and know she will continue to foster BKR’s culture of continual learning, development, and community involvement.”

BKR International represents more than 160 member firms with over 500 offices in over 80 countries around the world. Exponens, a multi-specialist firm with 24 partners and over 200 employees, is ranked No. 35 in France.

BKR Accepts One U.S. and One Australian Firm

Accounting association BKR International announced the acceptance of Chambersburg, Pa.-based Rotz & Stonesifer PC and Queensland, Australia-based Power Tynan into membership, effective Oct. 1.

Established in 1986, Rotz & Stonesifer offers an array of services in accounting, audit, M&A, management advisory and tax, specializing in construction, manufacturing, real estate and professional/medical industries. With four partners and a staff of 36, Rotz & Stonesifer is the second-largest firm in Chambersburg, and has additional offices in Greencastle and East Berlin, Pa.

Power Tynan was formed in 1969, and provides extensive accounting, consulting, practice management and tax services. Ranked second in the city of Toowoomba, the firm specializes in agriculture, medical and allied health, professional consulting and superannuation. With six partners and a staff of 41, Power Tynan has additional offices in Roma and Stanthorpe, Queensland, Australia.

BKR International Appoints New Board Leadership

David Goldner

David Goldner

BKR International, one of the top five global accounting associations, announced new board member appointments as well as a new Americas regional chair to support member recruitment and administrative oversight for the coming year.

Americas regional board members:

David Goldner (Chairman) – Baltimore, USA

Goldner will serve as the Americas regional chairman for 2015-2016. He is MP of Baltimore-based Gross Mendelsohn CPAs and Advisors (FY15 net revenue of $19.8 million), BKR members since 2002.

David Davis (Board Member) – San Jose, Calif., USA

Davis is the MP at Johanson & Yau Accountancy Corporation of San Jose, Calif., BKR members since 2002 and serving Silicon Valley since 1979.

Jennifer Hughes (Board Member) – Louisville, Ky., USA

Hughes is a director and past president of DMLO Certified Public Accountants, BKR members since 2010 and serving the Kentucky region for more than 30 years as a top firm.