Zacks Investment Research Upgrades CBIZ to “Strong-Buy”

Cleveland-based CBIZ (FY16 net revenue of $661 million) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “strong-buy” rating. The firm currently has a $17 target price on the business services provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research’s price objective points to a potential upside of 14.48% from the stock’s current price.

CBIZ last announced its quarterly earnings results on Aug. 3, reporting $0.20 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.18 by $0.02. The company had revenue of $211 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $207.42 million. CBIZ had a net margin of 5.54% and a return on equity of 9.59%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 7.1% compared to the same quarter last year.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company.

  • First Manhattan Co. boosted its position in shares of CBIZ by 4.2% in the first quarter, now owning 2,884,455 shares of stock worth $32.3 million.
  • P2 Capital Partners LLC upped its position in shares of CBIZ by 67.6% in the first quarter. They now own 2,361,073 shares of stock worth $32 million.
  • Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its stake in CBIZ by 6.9% in the first quarter. They now own 2,194,818 shares stock valued at $29.74 million.
  • State Street Corp boosted its stake in CBIZ by 12.0% in the fourth quarter. Now owning 896,848 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $12.3 million.
  • Norges Bank bought a new stake in CBIZ during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $10 million.
  • 84.97% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

Montgomery Coscia Greilich Adds Partner in Fort Worth

Ana Coscia

Ana Coscia

Plano, Texas-based Montgomery Coscia Greilich LLP (FY16 net revenue of $51.7 million) has announced that Ana Coscia has recently joined as a tax partner in its Fort Worth, Texas, location.

Coscia has significant tax practice leadership and client service skills and will oversee the Fort Worth location’s tax practice. With more than 15 years of comprehensive federal tax services practice, Coscia has served domestic and large multinational companies in the North Texas market, including U.S. inbound companies.

“Ana’s experience in federal, multi-state and cross-border taxation, as well as corporate compliance and accounting for income taxes will be an asset to MCG, our clients and our Fort Worth office,” says MP Gary Boyd.

Sarbanes Oxley Whistleblower Protection Law at 15 Years

Fifteen years after Congress enacted Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), internal whistleblowers continue to be the best source of fraud detection, but corporate whistleblowers are still suffering retaliation. A survey performed by the Ethics Resource Center found that nearly half of employees observe misconduct each year, and one in five employees who reports misconduct perceives retaliation for doing so.

The National Law Review, through Zuckerman Law, has released a free guide to the SOX whistleblower protection law: “Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Protection: Robust Protection for Corporate Whistleblowers.” It summarizes SOX whistleblower protections and offers tips for corporate whistleblowers.

The goal of the guide is to provide corporate whistleblowers with the knowledge to effectively combat whistleblower retaliation, avoid the pitfalls that can weaken a SOX whistleblower case and formulate an effective strategy to obtain the maximum recovery.

The guide addresses:

  • Whistleblowers protected by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  • Elements of a SOX whistleblower retaliation claim
  • Protected whistleblowing
  • Knowledge of protected conduct
  • Prohibited whistleblower retaliation
  • Proving SOX whistleblower retaliation (causation)
  • Employer affirmative defense
  • Damages
  • Litigating SOX whistleblower claims

CEO Outlook Shows How Innovation Comes of Age

According to KPMG’s 2017 CEO Outlook, 57% of U.S.-based CEOs revealed they lack sufficient processes to sense disruption in their respective markets. From startups and new competitors to emerging technologies to shifts in political, regulatory and economic conditions, companies without methods of sensing disruption may find themselves at significant risk.

“It’s encouraging that 72% of executives said they are actively disrupting the sector in which they operate, but in order to be successful, they need processes and capabilities that allow them to separate relevant weak signals from market noise,” says Mike Nolan, vice chair of KPMG’s innovation and enterprise solutions. “With a broader view of potential disruption, companies can develop sound strategies and make smarter investments to achieve both short and long term goals.”

Just under half of U.S. business leaders (43%) are confident that America’s economy will grow over the next three years and 37% anticipate growth for their respective companies. However, almost all (95%) believe that the level of top line growth will be less than 5% over the next three years.

“To meet investor expectations, it becomes even more important for companies to innovate. The hard part is balancing how much investment is necessary to succeed; too much innovation can starve a company’s core strategy, while too little can erode competitive advantage,” says Nolan.

According to the study, 6o% view technological disruption as more of an opportunity than a threat. In response, CEOs are placing a significant investment emphasis on emerging technologies areas such as data and analytics (61%), and artificial intelligence (58%) over the next three years.

As a core component of many important decisions made by leaders, the emphasis of increased spending on data and analytics focuses on ensuring data integrity. Nearly half of leaders (48%) expressed concern about data quality. As a result, one-third of CEOs revealed an inability to base business decisions on their data until they invest in improving its quality.

What has improved among CEOs is their confidence in integrating cognitive technologies, such as artificial intelligence. This year, 61% of leaders expressed concern over implementing cognitive technology, compared to 85% last year. The rapid advancement of the technology, its ability to augment employee productivity and improve quality of work has lead businesses to warm up to leveraging these new technologies.

For companies unsure of how to invest in innovation, leaders have options. They can determine whether to build a product or service from the ground up, buy a company with the product, technology or business model needed to increase speed to market, or ally with a proven entity whose complementary capabilities can increase value.

“Leaders have to ask themselves, ‘Are we making these investments to address a short-term gain, such as a reaction to a recent move made by a competitor?’ Or should we make this investment because it will help drive our longer-term business transformation?'” says John Farrell, national MP, KPMG’s innovation and enterprise solutions.

At a time when experimentation is expected, leaders must find ways to transform their ideas into reality without overburdening operations. Companies of all sizes can learn from startups by forming a business case supported by small “seed” investments before launching a full-scale product or service that focuses on enhancing customer experience and market value.

“This approach helps companies gain real-time insights so they can evaluate whether their innovation efforts should be accelerated, reinvented, or discontinued,” says Nolan. “With naturally competing interests and priorities, leaders need the resolve to manage these decisions to effectively execute their vision for success.”

Instagram is Tipping Off India’s Taxman

According to an article in Bloomberg, India’s government will begin amassing virtual information collected not just from traditional sources like banks but also from social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, as it looks to match residents’ spending patterns with income declarations. Officials will be able to spot those who pay too little tax without raiding offices and homes as they currently do.

While India’s economy is among the fastest-growing in the world, there is a disconnect with its revenue. This not only bloats the budget deficit, but it also triggers anxiety about overzealous tax sleuths. To combat this, Project Insight, built over seven years at a cost of about $156 million, will complement the world’s largest biometric identity database and India’s tax overhaul, Bloomberg reported.

“Data analytics is the way forward for tax administrations across the world,” says Amit Maheshwari, MP at New Delhibased Ashok Maheshwary and Associates. “This will also put an end to harassment by tax officials as there will be no public interface. Perceived randomness in scrutiny will come to an end.”

The project has three major phases:

  1. All existing data, including credit card spends, property and stock investments, cash purchases and deposits, will be migrated to the new system and a central team will send postal or email blasts to prod residents to file tax declarations. There will not be any physical interaction.
  2. Data analytics will mine, clean and process the information. Individual spending profiles will be created and inquiries will be more targeted. This phase is planned on being rolled out by December.
  3. Advanced systems will be used to predict future defaults and flag risks (live around May 2018).

Citrin Cooperman Expands Consulting Practice as Ronan Joins Firm

New York-based Citrin Cooperman (FY16 net revenue of $233 million) has expanded its advisory services with the launch of a new service line, strategy and business transformation (SBT).

As part of the expansion, Steve Ronan was admitted as a principal and practice leader of this initiative. The strategy and business transformation service line was formed to help clients develop and implement strategies, tailored to their industry and economics, which will improve process and profitability, create scalable businesses, and address business challenges.

Through the services of the SBT group, Citrin Cooperman clients will receive assistance with assessing critical aspects of their business, develop alternate strategies and vision, and develop, implement and monitor operational road maps to help achieve business and financial objectives. The SBT team will provide clients with expertise in strategic planning, process improvement, talent management and technology utilization.

Steve Ronan

Steve Ronan

Ronan has worked with many companies helping them develop and execute strategies to improve profitability, create scalable businesses and strengthen customer relationships. His client experience extends from traditional management consulting disciplines to the latest trends in management and technology. His industry experience includes manufacturing, technology, media and entertainment, franchising, life sciences, real estate and financial services.

Combining our background and skills with Citrin Cooperman’s strong portfolio of services will create a truly unique offering in the marketplace that will create substantial value for our clients,” says Ronan.

AWSCPA to Join AICPA

The American Woman’s Society of CPAs (AWSCPA), a professional organization representing women CPAs, has agreed to support an memorandum of understanding with the AICPA. The following is an excerpted letter from the AWSCPA:

The AWSCPA national board is pleased to announce that we have received and unanimously accepted a memorandum of understanding with the AICPA that will further the goal of supporting women in the profession.

For the first time since our inception, AWSCPA has the opportunity to showcase our strengths on a larger platform. The AICPA can provide the women of our organization the resources, knowledge and skills. This provides an opportunity for our members to connect with a vast community of professional women in all realms of the accounting world as mentors, role models and friends.

In exchange for assignment of the AWSCPA intellectual property (logo, name, etc.) AICPA will:

  • Create a new task force for AWSCPA under women’s initiatives executive committee
  • Provide discounted introductory AICPA membership dues for AWSCPA members who are not currently AICPA members
  • Develop communities and programming for women members of the AICPA, including former AWSCPA members, as the women’s initiatives executive committee deems appropriate

Seim Johnson Names New Managing Partner

Jerry O'Doherty

Jerry O’Doherty

Omaha, Neb.-based Seim Johnson (FY16 net revenue of $16.2 million) named Jerry O’Doherty as the new MP.

He succeeded Roger Thompson, who in addition to serving the firm’s clients, had been the MP since 2011. The MP chairs the executive committee, a committee of five partners that helps make final decisions on policies and procedures at the firm as well as provides recommendations and solutions to the full partner group regarding how the firm operates.

O’Doherty has been with Seim Johnson since 1998 and a partner since 2006. As a result of O’Doherty’s appointment to MP, the firm named Brent Friehauf to the executive committee.

New Research Finds Dearth of Finance Professionals with Big Data Analysis Skills

Chief financial officers may not be able to maximize the potential value of Big Data for their organizations due to difficulties attracting and retaining the professionals with the requisite expertise, research suggests. According to a new report from global staffing firm Robert Half and Institute of Management Accountants, or IMA®, finance leaders face significant shortages of accounting and finance professionals who possess the technical and nontechnical skills required for data analytics initiatives.

The report, Building a Team to Capitalize on the Promise of Big Data, is based on a survey of nearly 500 finance executives and managers. Survey findings revealed that the most severe skill gaps include:

  • Identifying key data trends
  • Data mining and extraction
  • Operational analysis
  • Decision analysis
  • Process improvement
  • Strategic thinking and execution

“Many organizations are being hindered by an inability to find and retain accounting and finance professionals who can turn data analytics into actionable business intelligence,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half. “To successfully build teams with the necessary skills, financial leaders need to establish a comprehensive recruiting process and professional development program.”

“Management must support efforts to retain financial professionals with data analytics skills through attractive compensation and benefits, training, a supportive corporate culture and an emphasis on work-life balance,” says Kip Krumwiede, director of research. “Of course, since the number of internal employees with these skills is limited, businesses must also encourage continuing education and ongoing training.”

In addition to developing talent from within, the survey found that 44% of businesses are focusing on building their teams’ analytics skills by hiring from outside the company, while 39% of respondents are working with external consultants. Financial leaders also need to remove self-inflicted obstacles commonly reported: a lack of competitive compensation and inadequate workforce planning.

“Finding accounting and finance professionals with in-demand skills is always difficult,” says McDonald, “but especially in a competitive hiring environment and when companies hamstring their own efforts through poor staffing strategies.”

CapinCrouse Admits Two Partners to Consulting Team

Ted Batson Jr.

Ted Batson Jr.

Greenwood, Ind.-based CapinCrouse (FY16 net revenue of 20.7 million) announces that Ted Batson Jr. and David Gunter have been admitted to the firm as partners effective Aug. 1. Both serve on the firm’s consulting team.

Batson joined CapinCrouse as tax counsel in May 2016 and has 30 years of experience serving nonprofits. He advises a diverse selection of clients, with a focus on finding and providing solutions to help clients navigate a wide range of exempt-organization issues. Baston is based in the Indianapolis office and serves clients nationwide.

David Gunter

David Gunter

Gunter has 35 years of consulting and advisory experience. He provides a wide range of services, including business strategy, forecasting, revenue and donor analysis, cost structure management and operational efficiency. Based in Atlanta, Gunter will serve clients nationwide.