Eide Bailly Acquires Xerva to Expand Data Solutions

Xerva, a data analytics and data warehouse as a service (DWaaS) pioneer, will become part of Fargo, N.D.-based Eide Bailly (FY18 net revenue of $299.2 million) on May 1, the firm announced.

“With the proliferation of big data in the market, business intelligence and data analytics services are in high demand from businesses of all sizes and industries,” explains Scott Kost, director of Eide Bailly’s technology consulting practice. “Xerva’s addition is the perfect complement to our existing client offerings because, when you think about it, Eide Bailly works in data every day – whether it’s an audit or an ERP implementation. With this expanded technology specialization, we are better equipped to help our clients understand and get the most out of their business data.”

Xerva, of Orem, Utah, was founded in 2014 with the goal to provide enterprise-level data solutions to the mid-market. Xerva says it focuses on helping clients take control of their “data chaos” and gain real business intelligence from their systems and reporting. Xerva adds more than 20 experienced staff to Eide Bailly’s data analytics team.

“We grew from the realization that mid-market companies have all of the same data challenges that Fortune 500 companies do,” says co-founder Nate Allphin. “Our team brings business intelligence to organizations that often feel enterprise analytics are out of reach.”

“As a firm, we strive to continually develop and provide innovative services and solutions to clients,” says Eide Bailly CEO Dave Stende. “Offering the right technology is an essential element to that success. The Xerva team will be a tremendous addition to our award-winning technology practice.”

The announcement comes on the heels of a number of mergers to build on cybersecurity, NetSuite ERP and Salesforce CRM practices. “This move signals a growing shift in the professional services and accounting industry to embrace technology as a key facet to long-term success and market stability – both for themselves and for their clients,” the firm says.

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Brian Kruk Rejoins Honkamp Krueger to Lead Quality Assurance

Brian E. Kruk

Brian E. Kruk

Dubuque, Iowa-based Honkamp Krueger & Co. (FY17 net revenue of $71.9 million) announces that Brian E. Kruk has rejoined the firm’s quality assurance services team as the practice group leader.

Kruk brings nearly 40 years of professional business experience, including 17 years of progressive internal audit. Kruk’s experience includes operational, financial, construction, joint venture, third-party contract and IT control environment audits, and he has completed hundreds of quality assurance service engagements for public and private sector clients. These include municipalities across the country, Walmart Stores, Inc., United Airlines, Hewlett Packard and various financial institutions.

Most recently, Kruk was the director of contract and construction audit for Union Pacific Railroad, where he directed teams conducting risk-based operational, contractor, construction and special investigation audits. Also, as the former director of quality audit services for the Institute of Internal Auditors, Kruk was the driving force in the rollout of the new quality assessment initiatives.

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Canadian Firm To Merge In Firm With Strong Ag Practice

Calgary, Alberta-based MNP, Canada’s fifth-largest accounting firm, has announced that it will merge in Thomson & Hamilton of Parkhill, Ontario, on July 8.

Rick Hamilton and his team provide financial statement assurance and accounting services, corporate, personal and tax compliance services, basic bookkeeping and small business accounting advice. Hamilton’s clients include a large proportion of agriculture businesses, particularly in the dairy, poultry, swine and beef sectors.

MNP has one of the largest agriculture practices in the country, and firm leaders say they are proud to be a “uniquely Canadian” firm.

While Hamilton was looking to find new ways to help his clients succeed, MNP was looking to build its growing agriculture presence in southwestern Ontario.

“One of our own goals has been to add more resources, including gaining access to more specialized services and a broader range of industry expertise and experience in the agriculture space, so that we can better provide our clients with even greater value in the future,” Hamilton says.

Doug Greenhow, MP of MNP’s Southwestern Ontario business, says Hamilton and his team are a great fit as MNP. “We are known across Canada’s agricultural communities as being one of the most trusted accounting and business consulting firms, so we are excited to welcome Rick – who is a well-established local leader in this field – to our firm,” he says.

In addition to tax and accounting expertise, MNP delivers a range of advisory services to agriculture businesses, including consulting, corporate finance, succession planning, insolvency and restructuring, technology solutions and cyber security, and agriculture tax strategy consulting.

“MNP has always been very strategic about who we invite to join the family,” says Greenhow. “Both MNP’s and Rick Hamilton’s cultures and values are well aligned, and we share the same passion for and commitment to agriculture as one of Canada’s core industries.”

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Grant Thornton’s Tax Practice Embraces Data Visualization

Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY17 net revenue of $1.8 billion) has equipped the 1,600 professionals in its tax practice with Microsoft Power BI – a data visualization tool. The firm announced that the move demonstrates Grant Thornton’s commitment to innovative technologies that benefit clients.

Using Power BI, Grant Thornton will be able to aggregate large amounts of data into graphs and charts that tax professionals can instantly understand – helping them go beyond spreadsheets. “Making Microsoft Power BI available to all professionals at every level of the tax practice reflects our belief that data is the future of tax accounting and professional services,” says Jamie Fowler, national MP of tax services.

Applying data visualization tools to tax data makes it easy for anyone to understand a company’s tax position. Moreover, it can yield unexpected business insights. “Because tax information touches almost every aspect of a business from sales to compensation, performing data visualizations as part of a tax engagement often provides revelations that go beyond taxation,” adds Fowler.

Power BI will complement Grant Thornton’s previous deployments of data-visualization software – and also serve as the foundation for new offerings. All Grant Thornton tax professionals are receiving extensive training in Power BI and related efforts.

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EY Makes Massive Investment in Blockchain Analyzer

Big 4 firm EY has announced the launch of the second generation of EY Blockchain Analyzer, a blockchain analytics tool, at the annual EY Global Blockchain Summit on April 16.

The summit featured a first-time demo of the full range of EY blockchain solutions and an overview of the technology’s integration across industries.

EY has made multi-million dollar investments into developing the second generation of the EY Blockchain Analyzer, which is expected to be available for use by EY teams in 2019 for clients who operate in the blockchain ecosystem. These developments include the support of multiple new cryptocurrencies on the platform, added functionality relevant to private and public blockchains, and a globally accessible and available platform.

Paul Brody, EY’s global innovation leader for blockchain, says, “With the second generation of EY Blockchain Analyzer, we are building a true platform solution that can be used for multiple purposes such as audit, tax and transaction monitoring, depending on client needs. From the start, we have had technologists and audit practitioners working together on this platform so we can keep our technology and audit methodology aligned and meet our professional standards.”

EY Blockchain Analyzer will provide evidence for audits in various sectors. In addition to transaction analysis, the new version of EY Blockchain Analyzer will support tax calculation for crypto-assets. EY will gradually expand the geographic coverage for tax calculation globally after the 2019 tax year.

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Pathway Forensics Opens Downtown Houston Office

Pathway Forensics, the digital forensics firm of Houston-based Briggs & Veselka Co. (FY17 net revenue of $36.2 million), is opening an office in Houston.

Now located in The Woodlands, Texas, the additional office is designed to better serve the Houston and its surrounding suburbs.

To head up the firm’s new downtown office, Clint Koenig has joined Pathway Forensics as a senior consultant. Koenig brings more than 18 years’ experience in forensic technology, and was most recently with KPMG’s forensic technology practice, where he specialized in providing digital evidence recovery, management, and review services to Fortune 500 companies in support of their ongoing civil litigation, compliance and monitoring, internal investigations and fraud detection.

“Clint brings years of digital forensics experience to Pathway and adds to our already talented cybersecurity team,” says Noel Kersh, principal at Pathway Forensics.

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MBAF Names Andre Chammas MP of Orlando Office

Andre N. Chammas

Andre N. Chammas

Andre N. Chammas has been named managing principal of the Orlando, Fla., office of Miami-based MBAF (FY17 net revenue of $124.3 million).

In his new role, Chammas will lead and oversee the strategic direction of the Orlando office. Chammas has been in practice since 1993 and has vast experience in accounting and tax planning for businesses and high-net-worth individuals, as well as in financial reporting and tax compliance requirements for a wide range of clients, both domestic and international. His clients include auto dealerships, music industry performers, mid-sized, family-owned businesses, real estate investors, professional athletes and restaurants. He will continue to serve in the tax and accounting department.

Throughout his 11 years at MBAF, Andre has established himself as “a leader in the industry, community and our firm,” says CEO Tony Argiz. “Andre’s broad range of experience as well as deep connection with the local Hispanic community will greatly contribute to growing our Orlando office, and I look forward to seeing continued success from Andre and his team.”

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ORBA Appoints Chief Financial Officer

Cara Sample

Cara Sample

Ostrow Reisin Berk & Abrams Ltd. (FY17 net revenue of $29.4 million) of Chicago, announces the appointment of Cara Sample as chief financial officer.

She has more than 14 years of experience in both public and corporate accounting and is responsible for providing strategic financial input, overseeing the accounting process and developing financial procedures for the firm.

“Cara’s versatile accounting background and experience in managing finances for large corporations will be a vital asset to ORBA,” says Mark Thomson, managing director.

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Sax LLP Adds Transaction Advisory Services

Clifton, N.J.-based Sax LLP (FY17 net revenue of $37.7 million) has launched a transaction advisory practice to help companies navigate complex transactions whether buying or selling, restructuring or providing capital solutions.

Sax says that with the increasing rate of M&A deals and transactions across all industries, a natural move to assist companies with deal strategy, valuation and performance improvements, due diligence, and the integration or divestiture of a business.

“We always work to help create value, manage risk and seize opportunities to unlock potential growth, and our transaction advisory practice is one more value-enhancing service for businesses who are in pursuit of synergy, diversification, growth and the competitive advantage,” says MP Joseph A. Damiano.

The practice is led by partner Todd W. Polyniak, who has over 30 years of auditing, accounting and advisory experience. “At Sax, we understand that capital is the lifeblood of every growing business, and we recognize the delicate balance between deal makers and deal breakers when it comes to M&As and transactions,” he says. “Our aim and intent are to properly and thoroughly advise businesses so they can make informed decisions about strategically managing capital and transactions in fast-changing markets, and to secure their intended outcome.”

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Philadelphia Firm Buys Majority Stake in KSM Consulting

KSM Consulting, a technology services and data-analytics consultancy, has announced that Philadelphia-based private equity firm Renovus Capital Partners has acquired a majority interest in the company, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.

KSM Consulting operates under Indianapolis-based Katz Sapper & Miller (FY17 net revenue of $79.3 million). The firm had owned 100% of KSM Consulting, but now retains minority ownership and a seat on the board, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal.

KSM Consulting plans to add 30 employees to its staff of 135. No layoffs are planned.

The Business Journal, citing public records, says that KSM Consulting has been awarded more than $27 million in Indiana state government contracts over its decade in business.

As a result of the ownership change, president Mark Caswell has been promoted to CEO “to lead the organization into its new phase of growth,” the company said. “As we think about the next high-growth phase of KSMC, adding the support of Renovus Capital Partners will best serve our company, employees and clients.”

KSM Consulting joins Renovus’ portfolio of companies in industries that include education, technology and human capital services.

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