Aldrich Welcomes Four New Partners in 2019

Tracey Davis

The Aldrich Group of Companies, based in Salem, Ore., has admitted four new partners effective Jan. 1: Tracey Davis, Ryan Johnson, Nicole Rice and Matt Van Doren, who represent a range of disciplines across the organization including Aldrich Wealth Advisors, Aldrich Benefits, and the construction and communications industry groups.

“Our new partners have each demonstrated exceptional leadership, expertise and client service in their time with the firm. We are thrilled to welcome them into our partnership,” says CEO Martin Moll.

Tracey Davis, Partner, Employee Benefits Consultant Davis is an employee benefits consultant specializing in large and mid-market employers with particular expertise in self-funding. She uses her in-depth knowledge of the market and strong partnerships to implement creative solutions for funding, medical management, and cost containment with an eye on the future direction of health care.

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson, Partner, Communications and UtilitiesJohnson is an expert on the taxation of communications and power companies. He specializes in both business and individual taxation and has extensive

Matt Van Doren

experience consulting on the structure of entities and transactions, including mergers and acquisitions.

Nicole Rice, Partner, Wealth Manager Rice has dedicated her professional career to helping individuals and corporate clients achieve their short- and long-term financial goals. She has experience in wealth management, retirement planning, tax accounting, design and implementation of non-qualified benefit plans, insurance and qualified benefit plans.

Matt Van Doren, Partner, ConstructionVan Doren provides financial and accounting services, tax planning and consulting services including construction accounting, cash flow modeling, financial projections and construction best practices.

PKF O’Connor Davies Establishes Governance Committee

Tom Blaney

New York-based PKF O’Connor Davies (FY17 net revenue of $160 million) has established a formal governance committee, which will recommend members for the executive committee and advise committee members.

The committee will be led by partner Thomas Blaney, who will serve as chair. Additional committee members are partners Clare Cella, Robert Cordero, Ed O’Connor and Marc Rinaldi.

“This governance committee is a powerful opportunity to put some additional structure around how we select our leadership team and guide the direction of the firm,” says MP Kevin J. Keane. “For nearly two decades, Tom has been a trusted and vital part of the PKF O’Connor Davies executive leadership, which makes him the perfect individual to lead this new governance initiative.”

The governance committee will support the executive committee in selecting new members and providing input and counsel related to governance policies and best practices. This governance committee is among several steps the firm has taken to formalize its governance and leadership practices. The committee is designed to help the firm adapt as future initiatives and priorities emerge.

KPMG Moves into Small Business Tax and Accounting Services with Spark

Zach Olson

New York-based KPMG LLP (FY17 net revenue of $9 billion) has launched KPMG Spark, a tax accounting solution for small and mid-sized businesses.

The Big 4 firm says KPMG Spark “blends innovative technology, intelligent automation and ‘human in the loop’ personalized service” to help clients from the pre-revenue stage to upward of $50 million annually to comply with last year’s domestic tax reform legislation.

Spark uses the technology platform KPMG acquired last summer when it purchased a business then known as Bookly, which at the time solely provided cash-basis accounting assistance to small companies.

“Robotic process automation, intelligent automation and other emerging technologies are just beginning to disrupt the accounting and tax services industries,” says Jeffrey C. LeSage, Americas vice chairman of tax at KPMG. “KPMG Spark reflects KPMG’s commitment to bringing innovative solutions to an expanding range of clients so we can help them drive growth, gain efficiencies and create greater value.”

KPMG Spark provides online bookkeeping, tax preparation and related services, supported by staff.

“The KPMG Spark solutions are designed to give business owners the tools they need to gain back the time they are spending on finance management, so they can pursue their passions and grow their businesses,” says Zach Olson, who joined KPMG as a managing director as part of the Bookly acquisition.

HBK, Spire Group Join Forces

Tom Angelo

Canfield, Ohio-based HBK CPAs & Consultants (FY17 net revenue of $80 million) has announced the signing of a merger agreement with the Spire Group of Clark, N.J.

The merger gives HBK its northernmost office and the newest in its mid-Atlantic region, which is comprised of Princeton and Cherry Hill in New Jersey and Blue Bell, Pa.

“We are pleased to welcome the Spire Group team to HBK,” notes HBK mid-Atlantic PIC Jim Bartolomei. “They are a group of outstanding and accomplished professionals who will strengthen our position in the region.”

The Spire Group is comprised of 50 team members, five of whom are joining HBK as principals. The firm has operated as the Spire Group since 2012 with the merger of SGA Group of Clark, N.J., and Carr Daley Sullivan & Weir of Livingston, N.J.

“The Spire Group was built on the pillars of client service, entrepreneurship and a culture that is centered around our team members’ success,” says Spire MP Tom Angelo. “We found those same pillars in the HBK family. We are excited to be able to bring our talents and expertise to scale collectively with the breadth and depth of HBK. Together, we will bring tremendous opportunities to our clients and our team members in the years to come.”

In addition to its tax, advisory and assurance practice, Spire operates Spire IT. Spire IT was founded in 2010 to provide technology and consulting services.

“The Spire Group has succeeded at building an award-winning culture and growing a highly respected office in a very competitive market. And their successful IT practice is proof of their innovative and entrepreneurial practice style,” says Christopher M. Allegretti, CEO and MP of HBK.

Major Midwest Expansion Ahead for K·Coe Isom

Jeff Wald

Salina, Kan.-based K·Coe Isom (FY18 net revenue of $68.2 million) is expanding deeper into the Midwest with its announcement of a new office location in Indianapolis. The move makes room for further growth and answers the pressing resource needs of Indiana’s food and agriculture businesses.

A national leader in food and agriculture consulting and CPA services, K·Coe Isom devotes two-thirds of its business to providing solutions for the food-supply chain and the financial, sustainability, legislative and operational issues they face.

Jeff Wald, CEO at K·Coe Isom, stated that the reasons behind this expansion were quite simple, “Our reputation precedes us. Our presence in Indiana spans decades as we serve many farm and ranch operations there already, and this move will make it easier to provide our food & ag specialization, expertise, and national resources.”

With the opening of the new Indianapolis office on December 10, it brought 10 seasoned K·Coe Isom professionals to the greater Indianapolis area, with K·Coe Isom looking to expand their employee base considerably over the first five years.

“This move represents our depth of commitment to the communities and food and agriculture businesses of Indiana,” adds Wald.

IPA Spotlight On . . . Brett Nabors

Name: Brett Nabors, CISA

Brett Nabors

Title: Partner, IT Advisory Services

Firm: Houston-based Weaver (FY18 net revenue of $127.1 million)

Accomplishments:

  • More than 13 years of experience helping organizations improve the security, reliability, accuracy and efficiency of their IT systems and organizations
  • Rapidly built a capable IT advisory services team with a supportive, quality-focused culture in Weaver’s Austin, Texas, office
  • Admitted as a partner in September 2018 after joining Weaver’s IT advisory services practice in November 2016
  • Lecturer for the IT Accounting and Controls class at the McCombs School of Business, University of Texas

In your new role as partner, you’re expanding IT-related services to Weaver clients. What are the biggest needs, in your opinion?

Considering the never-ending list of IT priorities, constant security breaches and the balancing act between risk and cost, companies should evaluate the service providers they use and whether those providers really address their needs. Clients benefit most from finding a provider who will listen to their specific concerns. The provider can then tailor an approach that meets their financial constraints and addresses critical needs. As much as I would love to solve every IT and security risk, that is not realistic. Clients need to focus on their individual risks, processes and priorities, not just buying the software or service everyone else has.

If you could give clients only one piece of advice on how to improve IT security, what would it be?

It is difficult to give one piece of advice, as every company is in a different stage of IT security. The key is to approach security as a journey along a continuum — what we call a maturity model — rather than trying to comply with requirements piecemeal. Focusing on maturity and continual improvement enables companies to understand that controlling user access, training employees and building cybersecurity awareness are all ongoing efforts, not just requirements to finish and be done with.

Many firms are looking to improve client service through data analytics. What kinds of insights are possible now that weren’t before?

The ability to analyze an entire organization through its data allows us to uncover trends and correlations that we might not have previously seen. Before analytics, we typically relied on standard “industry-accepted” norms for evaluating a company’s success; we let the expectations drive the data. Now, we can use the data to drive the expectations. Of course, there’s also the benefit of being able to take current analytics tools and apply them to historical data sets in order to expand the company’s understanding of its customers, vendors and other stakeholders. That allows them to make smarter decisions today and tomorrow.

What is the biggest mistake clients make in managing a systems implementation and how can clients and their accounting firm work together to create a smooth process?

We have all heard the quote “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” Companies often want to implement new software, but don’t dedicate the time to defining detailed business and system requirements, including impacts to existing processes. New systems inevitably change the way business processes operate, including the reports for end users. Identifying an owner to build requirements for the new system should be a priority. This individual should work directly with each department, including legal, data privacy owners, IT security departments and human resources. Omitting these groups may introduce new, unexpected risks once the system is implemented.

Final thoughts?

I live by the motto of “leave things better than you found them,” which is an adaptation of Robert Baden-Powell’s original quote. When it comes to assisting clients, my company and my life, I strive to achieve this motto.

Sikich Acquires Knutte & Associates

Chris Geier

Naperville, Ill.-based Sikich (FY17 net revenue of $177 million) has acquired the practice of Knutte & Associates of Darien, Ill.

Knutte & Associates specializes in completing student financial assistance (Title IV) compliance audits for educational institutions, as well as audits for governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations.

“The addition of the Knutte & Associates team adds strength to our audit, accounting and tax teams,” Sikich CEO Chris Geier says. “Our clients will especially benefit from their specialized expertise on auditing issues in the government, education and not-for-profit sectors.”

“Joining Sikich allows us to offer our clients access to an expanded team of talented audit, accounting and tax experts, as well as a comprehensive suite of professional services,” says founder and CEO Michael Knutte. “We’re excited to add our expertise to this growing and innovative firm.”

Richard Lynch

Sikich’s work in the government, not-for-profit and education sectors includes offering accounting, advisory and technology solutions to colleges and universities, health care organizations, social service agencies, private foundations, welfare organizations, religious organizations, political action committees, civic and community organizations, and trade associations.

“Knutte & Associates is a nationally recognized specialist in Title IV audits and consulting, and will enhance our ability to help clients comply with this important requirement related to student financial assistance,” says Richard Lynch, PIC of Sikich’s not-for-profit and education practices. “Their talented professionals will extend our expertise and add increased depth to our work with governments, not-for-profit organizations and educational institutions.”

Allan Koltin

Allan Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group, who advised both firms on the deal says, “In four decades of consulting to CPA firms, I have never seen a firm like Knutte. Dad starts a small CPA firm and one by one convinces his four sons to all join the firm. He passes the baton to them and they go out and build a Top 300 CPA firm nationally and become recognized as the industry expert in Title IV audits of educational institutions. To watch how the brothers (Mike, Dave, Joe, and Matt) worked together and respected and trusted each other would of made any parent or family business owner proud.”
Koltin calls Sikich “a national powerhouse,” and adds, “They were easily a decade ahead of the industry in terms of what a ‘future-ready’ accounting and consulting firm should look like.”

Knutte & Associates employees will join Sikich’s Naperville and Chicago offices. The transaction is scheduled to close on Jan. 1.

Weber Shapiro & Company Merges with Sobel & Co.

Alan Sobel

Weber Shapiro & Company of Woodcliff Lake, N.J., has agreed to merge with Sobel & Co. of Livingston, N.J. The firm will operate as Sobel & Co.

The merger creates a combined firm of approximately 140 employees across two offices in New Jersey and a third smaller office in Paoli, Pa. The firm’s staff serve the middle market business community and private individuals.

The merging firms share a vision of providing the sophisticated expertise and business acumen typically common to larger firms with the more personal, hands-on approach. Alan Sobel, managing member of Sobel & Co., expects the merger to reinforce this vision for both parties. “Over the years, we have carefully managed our firm’s growth while seeking partners who will enhance our culture and expand our opportunities. We have found that great fit with Weber Shapiro.”

The current Weber Shapiro office in Woodcliff Lake will remain intact, with Mark Weber continuing his role as MP of the office.

James Hickey

Alliott Group CEO James Hickey comments, “Weber Shapiro has always taken a proactive and collaborative approach to their alliance membership and I thank the partners at Weber Shapiro for their open communication at all times throughout their merger process. While our U.S. member firms are among some of the nation’s best managed accounting firms, we are realistic that they are always going to be attractive to larger mid-market firms. However, Sobel & Co.’s decision to continue Alliott Group membership for at least two more years highlights their confidence in our ability to deliver value, monetary or otherwise, to their clients and staff. Over this period, Sobel & Co. will evaluate the benefits of membership against their existing alliance.”

Together the merged firm offers services to a wider range of specialist industry sectors: professional services, manufacturing and distribution, retail and wholesale, media and marketing, real estate, technology and telecoms, non-profit and social services, and franchises. Further expertise includes consultancy related to employee benefit plans, business process outsourcing, forensic accounting, fraud, valuations and litigation support.

“Our merger increases the depth of resources available to our clients, creates new opportunities for our staff and expands our presence to some of the area’s key niche markets,” Weber says. “At least for the next two years, Alliott Group will have an even larger geographic footprint across the tri-state area. We remain very committed members of Alliott Group and Alan Sobel, Sobel & Co’s managing member, will be attending the North America Leadership Conference in January so that he can experience personally the alliance’s collaborative and welcoming culture.”

BDO USA Makes Key Promotions

Andy Zaleski

Chicago-based BDO USA (FY18 net revenue of $1.46 billion) has announced the promotion of three professionals: Andy Zaleski, who has been promoted to Detroit tax OMP; John Marquardt, who will serve as the tax MP for the central region; and Rich Black, who was previously a senior manager in the firm’s Detroit office and is now a partner.

In his new role, Zaleski is responsible for overseeing professionals, managing financial operations and fostering client and prospect relationships for tax services in BDO’s greater Detroit office. He has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting, advising both public and private multinational companies, and serving clients in the manufacturing, distribution, health care and private equity industries.

John Marquardt

In Marquardt’s new role, he will be responsible for establishing objectives and managing all aspects of the central region practice offices, including strategic planning, budgeting, client services, recruiting and staff development. Marquardt previously served as MP for the firm’s Detroit practice and has more than 25 years of experience in manufacturing and distribution, technology and private equity companies.

In his new role, Black will continue to conduct audits and internal control evaluations for public and private companies. He has more than 18 years of experience working with organizations in the real estate, manufacturing, health care and service industry sectors.

New York Office Opening for MGO

Kevin O’Connell

Los Angeles-based Macias Gini & O’Connell (FY17 net revenue of $53.6 million) announced the opening of a new flagship office in New York. The new office, led by New York office MP Rich Paris, will serve MGO’s growing list of clients in New York and across the East Coast.

“MGO is doing so much business on the East Coast, we couldn’t ignore the need for a brick and mortar presence in Manhattan,” says CEO and MP Kevin O’Connell. “This expansion will not only strengthen our existing traditional operations, but as the market leader taking cannabis companies public, we will be ideally positioned to support clients when the U.S. public markets open their doors to the cannabis industry.”

Paris has more than 20 years of experience in human resources and accounting. Paris was previously the founder and leader of a successful executive search company based in New York. “We already have deep connections to the New York business ecosystem and a physical presence here will help us deliver MGO’s dynamic service offerings with great attention and personal touch,” he says.

MGO’s New York City office, located at 622 Third Ave., will provide a full suite of assurance, tax, advisory, capital markets advisory and staffing services.