Bennett Thrasher Admits Six Professionals to the Partnership

Atlanta-based Bennett Thrasher LLP (FY18 net revenue of $55.6 million) announces the election of six firm professionals to its partnership, effective July 1.

The six represent Bennett Thrasher’s largest new partner class and includes individuals from six different practice areas: financial reporting and assurance, international personal financial services, real estate hospitality tax, risk advisory, state and local tax and transaction advisory services. Bennett Thrasher will now have 47 partners.

“We are proud that these outstanding professionals are joining our partnership,” says Jeff Eischeid, MP of Bennett Thrasher. “This milestone is indicative of our significant growth and our firm’s commitment to professional development. Each new partner has proven themselves through their dedication to providing superior client service and through an outstanding display of technical ability, leadership and commitment to the firm’s core values.”

The six professionals being promoted to partner include:

  • Stephen Bradshaw, state and local tax
  • Bridget Dunk, international personal financial services
  • Brian Hamm, financial reporting and assurance
  • Mike Hostinsky, risk advisory services
  • Kelly Smith, real estate hospitality tax
  • Vijay Vaswani, transaction advisory services

Bradshaw advises technology and fast-growth companies on sales and use tax issues, income and franchise tax matters, and state and local tax credits and incentives. Additionally, he provides SALT due diligence service in connection with merger and acquisition transactions. Bradshaw chairs the SALT committee of DFK International, a worldwide association of independent accounting, tax and business advisory firms.

Dunk specializes in income tax, estate tax and wealth planning services to individuals and closely held businesses with cross-border considerations. She has significant experience consulting on global mobility issues and on tax compliance for U.S. and non-U.S. persons and entities. Dunk previously co-founded two non-profits and hosts Life Lessons Over Lunch, a workplace initiative where co-workers gather to watch engaging and uplifting messages.

Hamm has more than 15 years of experience advising clients on due diligence and financial statement audits for clients ranging from start-ups to multinational companies. Hamm serves as co-leader of Bennett Thrasher’s technology industry segment, and his additional industry experience includes hospitality, pharmaceutical, health care and service-oriented companies.

Hostinsky has more than 15 years of experience in risk management and business consulting. Hostinsky evaluates interrelationships between technology, operations and finance, to provide business insights that promote effective internal controls, process efficiencies and operational effectiveness. He has a specialized focus on IT and business risk consulting, internal audit services, and System and Organization Controls (SOC) reporting.

Smith focuses on complex tax consulting and compliance for both domestic and foreign-owned companies within the commercial real estate industry. She has extensive experience advising foreign real estate developers on U.S. investments and transactions. Her additional industry expertise includes restaurant companies. Smith co-leads tax training at Bennett Thrasher.

Vaswani specializes in mergers, acquisitions and divestitures for private equity firms and strategic investors in a range of industries including healthcare and technology. He is well-versed in navigating the complexities at every stage of the deal process. Vaswani is a board member of the BT Foundation, serving on the grants committee and as chair of the communications committee.

Doeren Mayhew Launches CYBERCLAW

Troy, Mich.-based Doeren Mayhew (FY17 net revenue of $72.6 million) announces that its IT advisory and security group has introduced CYBERCLAW™, a new suite of cybersecurity solutions designed to help protect organizations of all sizes against cybercrime.

Cybercrime is one of the leading risks threatening organizations daily, presenting them with challenges difficult to overcome once they have been exposed, the firm says. CYBERCLAW ™ assists organizations in bringing the right level of awareness, detection, remediation and protection to its assets to protect against cybersecurity threats before they occur.

“Being faced with a system or data breach, and the associated financial and reputation costs, is a key area of concern for our clients across all markets and industries,” says Doeren Mayhew’s Managing Shareholder and Chairman Chad Anschuetz. “Through CYBERCLAW ™, our credentialed IT professionals can address these growing challenges for clients by providing tailored solutions geared to safeguard data and effectively manage their cybersecurity risks in today’s environment.”

CYBERCLAW ™ solutions are offered at four different fee levels. “This tiered approach to evaluate an organization’s cybersecurity risk and exposure provides an opportunity for any organization to choose a solution that best aligns with their goals as they become more cyber-sophisticated,” says Brad Atkin, shareholder and practice leader of the IT advisory and security group.

Grant Thornton Appoints Director for Advisory Services

Oliver Dennison

Oliver Dennison

Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY17 net revenue of $1.75 billion) has announced that Oliver Dennison has joined the firm as a managing director in the financial services advisory practice.

Based in Grant Thornton’s New York office, he will be responsible for global banking clients and driving fintech-enabled business solutions, with a focus on risk and compliance.

Dennison has nearly 20 years of experience as a senior manager and technology consultant, working for financial organizations and multinational corporations in Europe and North America. Most recently, he was a director leading the enterprise risk technology function within Deutsche Bank Americas.

“Having spent his career in financial services, Oliver has witnessed rapid, technology-driven industry change,” says Nigel Smith, national financial services advisory leader. “His experience leading the re-engineering of business processes and catalyzing change through technology is a strong addition to our solutions-focused client approach, especially as fintech continues to transform financial services.”

Before Deutsche Bank, Dennison was director of CFO program services for Credit Suisse and spent nine years at RBS Global Banking & Markets.

Hassler Admitted to Partnership at Herbein

Elizabeth F. Hassler

Elizabeth F. Hassler

Reading, Pa.-based Herbein + Company announced that Elizabeth F. Hassler has been admitted as a partner in the tax department.

Hassler works with federal and multistate tax return compliance, and tax planning for clients in a variety of industries including manufacturing, distribution and technology. Her areas of expertise include closely held corporations, S corporations, partnerships and high-net-worth individuals.

She is heavily involved in working to streamline corporate tax technology at the firm and works to develop and maintain a strong internship program. She is a strong advocate on the importance of showing the younger generations of future accountants what a career could be like in accounting, and she believes that having a strong mentor is important to growth.

“Liz joined us in 2015 as an already-rising star, and within three short years she has embraced the role of a leader who inspires fellow team members and leads by example. She brings great enthusiasm and is well-known for her ability to bring people together on projects,” says COO and partner Michael J. Rowley.

CPAsNet Names New Regional Chairs

Robert Vawter

Robert Vawter

The board of directors for the accounting association CPAsNet has named Robert Vawter, MP of Vawter Gammon Norris & Company of Cordova, Tenn., as chair of the Asia Pacific and Japan international executive committee.

Additionally, Christina Tharp, CFO of Hamilton Tharp of Solana Beach, Calif., has been named chair of the Europe, the Middle East and Africa international executive committee.

Both will be responsible for the strategic planning of the organization’s international alliances with Auditrust International. CPAsNET’s partnership with Auditrust was conceived because of the increasing need of businesses that rely on their CPA firms to provide global resources and specialists. CPAsNET firms meet their client’s growing international demands by working within a system of international associates.

“Robert and Christina are well respected within the organization, profession and international community of trusted financial advisors. True trailblazers, they understand the importance of continued innovation and providing clients with the local, national and international perspective needed to prosper in challenging markets and times,” says Sarah Dobek, president of CPAsNET.

Platt’s Perspective: 24/7/365 Access – Is It Good Client Service Or Are We Kidding (Killing) Ourselves?

I recently served as a panelist at a conference, and the organizer was trying to coordinate logistics in advance. He sent an email on a Tuesday at 11:11 p.m. – clearly a time that worked for him. One of the panelists responded at 2:18 a.m., three hours later, and another panelist weighed in four hours later. I had business to attend to that morning and didn’t respond until 10:04 – less than 11 hours after the initial request. As the last person to respond, I admit that my initial feeling was that I let everyone down since I was so “late” to the conversation.

I get it that the responses from the other panelists came at a time that was convenient for them and most appropriate for their schedule. I get it that the “anytime, anywhere” work environment means that we all get communications like this at any time of the day, and that we should expect that going forward.

Mike Platt

Mike Platt

This not-so-unique experience quickly turned to curiosity as to how these kinds of communications – while exceptionally flexible and convenient for the sender – may affect the receiver. When you shoot off an email to your staff at midnight because you just thought of something and didn’t want to forget it, is it accepted that way, or does the recipient feel stressed that he or she let you down by not responding until 10 a.m.?

What about when a client sends you an email at 11 p.m.? Do you feel compelled to respond before the sun comes up? Are they expecting you to? Is it a hallmark of great client service or is it a recipe to stress yourself – and your staff?

There are clearly no right or wrong answers to these questions, but you should develop good answers for your firm. If 24/7 access and the promise of an immediate response is a competitive advantage you believe in, and one that is a core value, then go for it!

I’m not against responding to emails whenever it is convenient. But I do wonder, as technology and expectations continue to speed up, if it is the right expectation to set. Society may have already answered that question for us (“It’s inevitable, get used to it!”), but maybe there’s another way to look at it.

Maybe it can become a competitive advantage to not move so quickly. After all, research has shown that a client values a professional’s opinion much more when delivered in a timely but considered manner – rather than an immediate response. These are all good questions to ponder. I wish I could spend more time sharing my opinion, but it’s now 11 p.m., and I’ve got some emails that just came in that I need to respond to . . .

Bauknight Pietras & Stormer Admits New Partner

Ben Glenn

Bauknight Pietras & Stormer (FY17 net revenue of 9.8 million) of Columbia, S.C., announces it has admitted a new professional into its partnership group: Ben Glenn, who joined the firm 14 years ago.

The firm now employs 70 people, in part because of growing national expertise in the insurance industry. Glenn represents property and casualty companies and captives from the tax perspective.

He consults on the formation of new captive insurance companies, consulting on risk transfer and risk distribution matters key to the formation of a captive insurance enterprise. In addition, his experience includes successfully defending captive insurance companies in IRS examinations and submitting private letter ruling requests to the IRS.

Russell Bauknight

Managing shareholder, Russell Bauknight, says, “What makes the addition of Ben to the BPS leadership team and board of directors so gratifying is that he joined BPS 14 years ago and has focused his energy on client service and developing his leadership skills. Today, Ben is a highly sought-after consultant in the areas of captive insurance and telecommunications, which in turn has contributed to BPS’ growth.”

Glenn also advises individuals, corporations and partnerships on tax planning and compliance.

Armanino Launches Blockchain Practice

San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino LLP (FY17 net revenue of $242.7 million) has announced a new blockchain practice, which will offer a range of services for businesses interested in using the burgeoning technology.

“Blockchain technology and crypto assets have the potential to become a high impact innovation that brings value and security to businesses, and with a growing number of our clients currently in the space, it made sense to assemble a team well-versed in this new technology,” says Andries Verschelden, partner and blockchain practice leader.

The firm describes blockchain a technology that increases trust among customers, vendors and third parties through “transparent, secure and immutable transactions.”

The blockchain practice offers strategy, assurance and systems implementation solutions for businesses, including:

  • Proof of Concept – Assessments for blockchain, including distributed ledgers, permissioned blockchains, hybrid solutions and permission-less blockchains.
  • Design and Implementation – Full vendor selection, functional and technical design, configuration, testing, user training, system integration and ongoing support.
  • Security Review and Monitoring – Assurance on digital assets on the balance sheet, high-volume digital currency transactions, custodial holdings, smart contract and enterprise blockchain environments. Armanino was among the first to complete financial statement audits for clients with high digital asset transaction volumes.
  • Cryptocurrency On-Ramp – Crypto readiness systems review, crypto-specific accounting solution selection and implementation, technical accounting guidance, custody solutions, cold storage controls environment consulting, and digital asset tax strategy and process design.

Anchin Block & Anchin Announces New Partner, New Subsidiary

Russell Safirstein

New York-based Anchin Block & Anchin LLP (FY17 net revenue of $104 million) has welcomed Russell Safirstein to the firm as PIC of its new subsidiary – Anchin Digital Risk Solutions LLC (ADRS).

Safirstein’s expertise centers on combining audit, accounting, risk compliance and technology to help clients.  into client solutions. He delivers and develops technology driven risk and compliance advisory and analytics-based services.

“After introducing our Redpoint Cybersecurity services a little over a year ago, we recognized that companies also need guidance when it comes to the efficiency and compliance aspects of their technology systems,” says MP Frank Schettino. “Bringing Russell in will help us broaden our significant industry expertise, particularly by leveraging his experience with financial services, management consulting and health care companies.”

Marc Newman, Associate MP says the new subsidiary “signals our commitment to continuously add crucial advisory services that will strengthen and differentiate Anchin’s value proposition.”

ADRS will provide privately held, middle market companies with services previously reserved for larger companies, the firm says. The team will bring technology solutions to companies in an underserved market that need guidance to meet the demands of risk management and audit, while maintaining profitability and achieving regulatory compliance.

Prior to joining Anchin, Safirstein was a partner with Prager Metis Technology, leading their AI and machine learning initiatives in addition to their cybersecurity and risk advisory practices.

IPA Vendor Spotlight On . . . Steve Templeton

Name: Steve Templeton

Companies: Templeton Solutions LLC and Templeton & Company, LLP

Title: Founder and CEO

Accomplishments:

Steve Templeton

Steve Templeton

  • Created industry’s first unitized practice management system to enable firms to manage their business from a single data source.
  • Templeton Solutions named a Top 100 VAR (Value-Added Reseller) for the past two years.
  • Named a “Power Leader” by the South Florida Business Journal for the past six years.
  • Templeton & Company named a Top 300 Accounting Firm by INSIDE Public Accounting for the past four years.

How has the accounting industry changed with the rapid rise in M&A activity?

So much has changed in the industry since I started my career over 40 years ago. The opportunity for firms to expand their client base, lure better talent and grow profits has never been bigger. Whether you are looking to acquire, looking to be acquired or thinking about a succession plan, M&A is on every firm’s strategy roadmap, regardless of size.

You know what hasn’t changed? The technologies most firms are using to manage their practice. Many of the well-known legacy systems are outdated, stale and incompatible with each other. As more companies look to consolidate, the challenge of integrating disparate solutions becomes glaring, driving up costs and creating inefficiencies. CPA firms are longing for the agility and ease of a practice management system that is already unitized, and that doesn’t require all the complex, error-prone integrations. The rapid rise in M&A activity as well as the need to efficiently manage their practice is causing firms to rethink their growth strategies and educate themselves on the new generation of practice management technologies coming to market.

What’s the biggest opportunity for CPA firms that PracticePro 365 can help with?

Two of the biggest challenges facing accounting firms are lack of visibility across their business operations and lack of timely insights. The most common complaint we hear from managing partners and founders operating in this new business landscape is, “I feel like I’m operating in the dark.”

PracticePro 365 consolidates their data, giving them a holistic view of their business – a single source of truth they can leverage to identify changes in revenue and productivity and make smart business decisions, at any given moment. The result is the ability to manage a fully unified firm, ultimately serving their clients better and unleashing more profit.

What need were you trying to fill in the accounting industry with PracticePro 365?

First, PracticePro 365 was developed for our firm.  As we developed functionality on the Microsoft Dynamics platform, it became clear that a client-centric system was the best way to gain incredible insights and efficiencies while enabling a holistic view of client service and relationships. Those instincts were spot on. While other large vendors boast of “integration-ready” practice management systems, our system is unitized on a common platform, so no integration is required. Delivered from the cloud, it is subscription-based, so there is no need to pay for or manage servers or a separate hosting provider. This is unprecedented in the market today.

Thoughts on the future?

We will all continue to face business headwinds, which is why we built PracticePro 365 in the cloud from day one. Scalability, flexibility and uncommon insights are, and continue to be, a priority for us. Our clients need to be able to adapt quickly, to not only survive the constant changing landscape we do business in, but to thrive in it.

To learn more about PracticePro 365, visit www.practicepro365.com.