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Co-Founder of WithumSmith+Brown Passes at Age 84

(L-R) Withum Co-Founders Len Smith, the late Fred Withum & Ivan Brown

Fred Withum, 84, who co-founded Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown (FY19 net revenue of $223.3 million), has died, the firm announced.

Withum, considered a visionary within the profession, co-founded the firm in 1974 and retired in 1987. Withum was instrumental in shaping the firm’s three core pillars for commitment: clients, people and communities. Under his leadership, the firm held first-of-their-kind planning meetings and partner retreats in the 1970s to chart the firm’s future course.

“From our early years as a firm, Fred was instrumental in instilling in us the importance of client service, integrity, growth and community service,” says Len Smith, who co-founded the firm with Withum as well as Ivan Brown and Doug Sonier. “These principles have stayed with us for over 40 years and have become the foundation for the Withum Way. Fred was a big believer in planning, and often reminded us of a quote from Lewis Carroll, ‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.’”

Sonier adds, “Fred was a true entrepreneur who encouraged and supported each of us in expanding the firm’s footprint and services. The confidence he instilled and demonstrated – combined with measured risk-taking – were key components that contributed to the growth and success of the firm.”

Today, Withum is ranked No. 25 on the 2019 IPA 100 listing of the largest accounting firms in the country. Withum, with 15 offices, is an independent member of HLB, the global advisory and accounting network.

At a time when most firms did not acknowledge the importance of community involvement and work-life balance, Withum was a champion, the firm says.

“He encouraged us to join and actively participate in charitable and professional organizations. In addition, he advocated for providing pro-bono and reduced-fee services to not-for-profits, many with June 30 FYE, which was a win-win proposition,” Brown says. “A strong proponent of family involvement, Fred also encouraged us to carve out time to watch and participate – via coaching and similar activities – in our children’s lives.”

Withum also championed peer reviews. In 1977, Withum became one of the first non-national accounting firms to voluntarily participate in the AICPA peer review program that evaluates firm processes and procedures. Since then, Withum has successfully passed all 13 peer reviews conducted.

According to MP and CEO Bill Hagaman, this feat underscores one of Withum’s well-known quotes: “Our services are for sale. Our integrity is not.” Hagaman adds, “This truism still applies, as Withum team members continue to hold up the highest levels of values and ethics and expect the same from those with whom they work.”

Memorial contributions can be made in Withum’s honor to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, P.O. Box 1281, Quechee, VT 05059.

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Massachusetts-Based Firm RBF Joins Withum

Rucci Bardaro & Falzone (RBF) of Woburn, Mass., has joined Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown (FY19 net revenue of $223.3 million), bringing five partners and about 30 team members to the firm. The RBF team will remain in Woburn.

MP Bill Rucci says, “Since its inception in 1985, RBF has been committed to providing clients with insightful, custom solutions while encouraging our own people toward superior achievement on behalf of our clients, our profession and themselves. Withum exemplifies the same ‘Withum Way’ philosophy of client-centric, personalized attention and a commitment to excellence which is tremendously important to us.”

Withum MP and CEO Bill Hagaman says the firm has been seeking the right fit in the area. “Finding the right strategic partner located in the Greater Boston business community is an important part of our vision for growth in the Northeast,” he says. “The RBF offices will further enhance our current Boston team, located in the Seaport district, in terms of expertise, geographic location and culture. Their expertise in servicing privately held businesses, not-for-profit organizations and high-net-worth individuals perfectly complements Withum’s current practice areas.”

Rucci says clients will benefit from a wider range of services. “We can now offer enhanced technology and advisory services such as digital workplace solutions and cyber and information security services, as well as robust tax and international services.”

Allan D. Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group who advised both firms, says, “The ‘Withum Way’ has proven to be a very attractive platform for entrepreneurial firms looking for greater depth and resources. RBF is a well-respected firm in the Greater Boston market that had numerous [larger] firms approach them about combining forces.” Withum plans to expand further into Florida and ultimately open an office in California, he says.

Combined, Withum and RBF serve industries that include construction, technology, financial and investment, health care, law and professional, labor organization, hospitality, life sciences, employee benefits, not-for-profit, manufacturing, consumer products and real estate.

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Peter Grandich and Company Teams with Withum

Trinity Financial Sports & Entertainment Management Company, a division of Peter Grandich and Company of Spring Lake, N.J., announced that it has teamed up with the sports and entertainment division of Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown (FY19 net revenue of $223.3 million).

Peter Grandich & Company offers financial services to individuals, professional athletes and owners of small and mid-size businesses.

“Over the years, we have undergone numerous discussions with a variety of professionals who were seeking to work with us and our team of professional athlete clientele at Peter Grandich and Company,” says Peter Grandich, managing member. “We believe WithumSmith+Brown brings the most talent and experience by far, and we are very much looking forward to enhancing our services with them working side by side with us.”

Ken Hicks, who leads Withum’s sports and entertainment group, says, “Peter Grandich has clearly shown to be among the most respected financial people working within the professional sports team and athlete community in the areas we serve. I truly believe our services will greatly complement one another, and we eagerly look forward to a long and mutually rewarding relationship.”

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Withum Admits Six Partners

(l-r): Anthony Aniello, Chaya Siegfried, Ryan Shannon, Joseph Malfettano, Jessica Hollobaugh Giresi, Erik Halluska

Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown (FY189net revenue of $223.3 million) has admitted six principals and senior managers to the partnership group.

“Each of these professionals represents Withum’s next generation of leaders tasked with carrying on the tenets of our enduring company values and Withum Way traditions,” says MP and CEO Bill Hagaman. “Collectively and individually, they represent cooperation, integrity, giving back and a vision for growth that welcomes innovation and change.” The six new partners join a corporate leadership team of more than 120 partners.

The new partners are:

  • Anthony Aniello, U.S. and international tax compliance and consulting, Boston
  • Erik Halluska, assurance and accounting, Orlando, Fla.
  • Jessica Hollobaugh Giresi, litigation consulting, Princeton, N.J.
  • Joseph Malfettano, team leader for New York construction services group, New York and Red Bank, N.J.
  • Ryan Shannon, team leader for technology services group, New York
  • Chaya Siegfried, leader, international business tax services, Red Bank, N.J.

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Withum Marks Opening of its Learning Lab at the University of Central Florida

Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown (FY18 net revenue of $207.6 million) has partnered with the University of Central Florida (UCF) to establish a new learning lab, which offers students a place to seek tutoring services as well as collaborate with fellow accounting majors.

The lab, which was designed by Withum’s Creative Director Jin Park, features state-of-the-art workstations and amenities. The décor also features inspirational messages that align with Withum’s corporate culture.

“The Withum Learning Lab is an extension of our ties to UCF and its College of Business, where the next generation of business advisors and accountants are being challenged to refine their skills and creativity,” says Russell Goldberg, PIC of Withum’s office in Orlando, Fla. “At Withum, we take our responsibility very seriously to contribute to and pave the path for the future of our profession, which will only soar to new heights that not-too-long-ago once seemed unfathomable.”

The Withum Learning Lab was established in memory of three of the firm’s late team members who were an inspiration to their peers: Sandi Breitenstein and Barb Sorenson, who passed in 2015, as well as Robin Word, who passed in 2016.

Gregory Trompeter, director of the Kenneth G. Dixon School of Accounting at UCF College of Business, says, “For those who are being tutored, they obviously receive one-on-one education from more senior-level students. Less obvious, is the expertise developed by the tutors who really solidify their knowledge of the subject by teaching it to others. In both instances, Withum is helping UCF develop future leaders for the community and the profession.”

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Withum Admits Oates as Tax Partner

Michael Oates

Michael Oates has joined Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown PC (FY18 net revenue of $207.6 million) as a tax partner in its financial services and investment group.

Prior to joining Withum, Oates was the tax hedge fund industry leader for one of the Big 4 firms and the PIC of the national tax practice for Rothstein Kass.

Oates, who is based in the firm’s New York office, joins a team of specialists focused on all audit, tax and compliance issues related to venture capital firms, hedge fund managers, private equity firms, mortgage bankers, broker-dealers, credit unions, banking institutions and regulated investment companies.

Bill Hagaman

“As an industry leader known for his tax abilities as they relate to alternative investment clients, Michael brings an entirely new depth of expertise to Withum that will advance our already-prominent posture and strength in the financial services sector,” says Bill Hagaman, the firm’s MP and CEO. “His insight, knowledge and leadership are a tremendous asset to our team and an extremely diverse client roster that is continually evolving on the fund and investor front.”

An industry veteran with more than 30 years’ experience in the alternative investment fund sector, Oates specializes in tax research and planning, from initial organizational structure to maximum tax efficiency. He also serves as a trusted operational-matter tax advisor throughout the business and economic cycles.

“Withum has emerged as a leader in the publicly and privately held financial services sector and has propelled itself to the forefront, bypassing rival firms that once had the market cornered,” Oates says.

Withum Releases Latest Culture Video, New Website

Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown PC (FY18 net revenue of $207.6 million) has released its popular annual culture video. What started in 2012 with the firm’s “Party Rock” flash mob video – which has been viewed more than 70,000 times – the firm releases a new dance and music video at its annual State of the Firm event.

The video’s soundtrack, “We Live the Withum Way,” was written by creative services team member Madison Klarer and emphasizes components that make Withum unique, the firm says.

The latest culture video coincides with the launch of the firm’s new corporate website and firm’s tagline has been subtly amended to reflect Withum’s sequential business emphasis on advisory, tax and audit services.

“Withum’s general business philosophy has been – and continues to be – focused on expanding the advisory practice areas as well as our role as a trusted advisor to clients, regardless of their industry, annual revenue, personal income or geography,” says Rhonda Maraziti, chief marketing officer, and the Association for Accounting Marketing’s 2016 Marketer of the Year, which is sponsored by INSIDE Public Accounting. “We remain committed to being a forward-thinking, technology-driven firm to help our clients succeed in the modern business landscape.”

WithumSmith+Brown Welcomes New Business Developer

Heather Murphy- Walker

Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown PC (FY18 net revenue of $207.6 million) announces the appointment of Heather Murphy-Walker to its New York office team.

In her role as business development executive, Murphy-Walker will spearhead all office-growth initiatives and serve as the conduit for the firm’s client base.

Murphy-Walker has more than 10 years of marketing and business development experience in the professional services sector. Prior to joining Withum, she was a consultant for NABA. In this role, she spearheaded all marketing and communications efforts, as well as key operations aspects related to their annual convention. Previously, Murphy-Walker was a consultant with a technology CPE firm and held communications and marketing management roles with AICPA during the course of an eight-year period.

“Heather’s background of leading product development and refining and focusing marketing and sales strategies are a tremendous value add to our team roster of talent,” says Mike Stallone, PIC of Withum’s New York office. “We welcome her contributions and track record for success in building relationships throughout New York City and beyond.”

Murphy-Walker says, “I’m eager to assist current and prospective clients by helping them articulate and understand their unique business needs and how Withum can help them achieve – and exceed – their goals.”

WithumSmith+Brown Announces Formation of Digital Currency and Blockchain Technology Services Group

Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown PC (FY18 net revenue of $207.6 million) has announced the formation of a digital currency and blockchain technology services group to address the unique challenges posed by digital assets, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. As an extension of the firm’s technology services group, the team provides a deep level of expertise to a diverse client base involved with and entering into today’s new alternative asset class.

“Blockchain technology and the rising use and influence of digital assets/tokens are not a passing trend, they are becoming part of the fabric of our technology community and the possibilities of their impact and disruptions across all industries are unlimited. We are embarking into a new era that can permanently and dramatically change how we do business,” says Chris DeMayo, partner and team leader of the new group. “Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology pose highly unique challenges, from technology to accounting and regulatory issues – all of which our experienced, forward-thinking team is uniquely prepared to address on a client-by-client, industry-by-industry basis.”

Led by DeMayo, the digital currency and blockchain technology services group is made up of a team of 12 experts including thought-leaders Deep Gujral, principal; Carl Scheuten, partner; Joe Murray, manager; and Ryan Babiak, partner among others. The firm also is a member of, or accredited by, several prominent industry groups including the Accounting Blockchain Coalition, established to foster best practices in navigating accounting issues related to digital assets, and the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance.

WithumSmith+Brown Admits Three New Partners

Ryan Babiak

Ryan Babiak

Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown PC (FY17 net revenue of $175.4 million) has announced that three senior managers have been admitted to partnership. Ryan Babiak, Joseph Cassano and Shawn Gillon are the newest partners to join the firm’s growing corporate leadership team, effective July 1.

“Ryan, Joe and Shawn represent a new generation of firm partners who embody our enduring company values and Withum Way traditions,” says Bill Hagaman, MP and CEO. “Collectively and individually, they represent passion, innovation, community and strength for their profession, clients, colleagues and peers. We congratulate each on this pinnacle of professional achievement.”

Joseph Cassano

Joseph Cassano

Babiak, based in the firm’s Whippany, N.J., office, specializes in accounting for income taxes, federal and multi-state income tax for business entities, equity-based compensation and U.S. international taxation. He also is a member of the firm’s start-up and emerging growth technology services group.

Cassano is based in Withum’s New York office, where he specializes in financial reporting, tax and accounting services for hedge fund clients and also has experience working with domestic and offshore investment funds, fund-of-funds vehicles, investment advisors and related management entities. A 14-year industry veteran, he serves a diverse roster of clients as a member of the firm’s financial services/alternative investments group, including broker-dealers, private equity groups and hedge funds.

Shawn Gillon

Shawn Gillon

Gillon, based in the firm’s East Brunswick, N.J., office, is a CPA with more than 15 years of experience focusing on auditing, accounting and consulting services. A member of the firm’s insurance services team, he works with an array of insurance companies and captives. He also serves a variety of clients in the real estate and not-for-profit sectors.

The three new partners join an impressive corporate leadership team at Withum comprised of more than 120 partners. Established in 1974, Withum is a public accounting firm providing advisory, tax and audit services to businesses and individuals on a local-to-global scale. Withum also is a member of HLB International, a worldwide network of independent professional accounting firms and business advisers committed to assisting clients to build and expand globally.