PKF International Welcomes New CEO

James Hickey

PKF International has announced that James Hickey will be the new CEO. Hickey will be replacing John Sim, who has led the association for 6 years.

Hickey is an inspirational leader with a wealth of expertise in achieving high growth within mid-tier accounting and law firms around the world. Hickey served as CEO of the Alliott Group since November 2012.

When asked about his understanding of the changing dynamics in the accounting world, Hickey says, “Those firms that think like accountants and lawyers when they strategize for their tomorrow will simply not have a tomorrow. Whether it be AI, mergers, changes in regulations or any of the other market disrupters, professional service firms need to be open minded to new delivery models to maintain a relevance within their respective markets.” He continued, “At the core of PKFI’s tomorrow has to be the right digital strategy. But this must represent an extension of who we are. If we adapt with integrity always preserving our belief that ours is a network of trusted business advisors and build strategic digital value into this offering – then the potential for expansion and deeper relationships will be phenomenal.”

PrimeGlobal Announces New CEO

Stephen Heathcote

Stephen Heathcote

PrimeGlobal, an association for independent accounting firms, announces the appointment of Stephen Heathcote as CEO, effective June 1, 2019.

“At this crucial moment of growth, Stephen Heathcote’s appointment is a clear reflection of PrimeGlobal’s commitment to its members and renewed leadership at the global level,” the association announced.

“After conducting a worldwide search, I am happy to announce the World Board was able to reach a unanimous consensus that Stephen was the right person to lead PrimeGlobal,” World Board Chairman Cornelius V. Kilbane Jr. says. “Our organization is one of the top international accounting associations in the world, and to have someone with Stephen’s leadership skills, experience with teams based in locations throughout the world, and an understanding of both global and regional needs means PrimeGlobal will continue to bring exceptional value to its members.”

The association has more than 300 members in 80 countries.

Heathcote’s background includes serving in the COO role at the UK Financial Reporting Council and as a senior manager at KPMG. He is also a key member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) executive team for the past 10 years.

“At a time when the profession faces many challenges, it has been refreshing to meet partners leading practices who are fully trusted by their clients and prepared to innovate to support them,” Heathcote says. “Prime Global shares the ambition of its members and draws on a vast range of expertise to ensure best standards and practices deliver success to members.”

More news from PrimeGlobal

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.

MSI Global Alliance First to Join Global Connect

Martin Sharp

A strategic alliance between leading independent accounting associations DFK International and AGN International has been expanded with the addition of MSI Global Alliance, the first to join Global Connect since it was established as a new collaboration between DFK and AGN in January 2018.

Global Connect was launched to provide members with greater resource and coverage to best serve the international business needs of clients, while continuing to operate independently. MSI, an association of 260 legal and accounting firms in 100 countries, is part of an expansion to bring in other professional disciplines, Global Connect announced.

MSI is similar in size and geographic reach to DFK and AGN. DFK has 220 member firms in more than 90 countries, and AGN has approaching 200 member firms in over 80 countries. All three associations are headquartered in London.

Martin Sharp, executive director of DFK International, and Malcolm Ward, CEO of AGN International, said MSI was an obvious choice as a first partner.

Sharp says, “Clients of our member firms often seek legal support when moving into other jurisdictions and MSI Global Alliance gives us a step into the legal market, as well as increasing our coverage of accountants. The success of Global Connect in the first year has exceeded our expectations.” He says the connections have resulted in at least one referral a week.

Ward says, “The reason this alliance has worked so well with DFK and AGN having this additional coverage where needed is that we have good symmetry and close trust. MSI are similar to us but also bring a new dimension with their multi-disciplinary nature.”

Grooms & Harkins Joins CPAmerica

Alan Deichler

Grooms & Harkins of Casper, Wyo., has joined CPAmerica, an accounting association of independent CPA firms. Grooms & Harkins is the second firm to join the accounting association in 2019.

“We’ve enjoyed a long relationship with Grooms & Harkins, a member of our CPAConnect alliance since the late ’90s,” says Alan Deichler, president of CPAmerica. “It is great to see a CPAConnect firm grow and move into Top-10 accounting organization. We welcome them to the CPAmerica family.”

Grooms & Harkins has been providing client services since its inception in 1999. Charles Harkins, shareholder of Grooms & Harkins says, “We fully expect to continue the growth we experienced during our association with CPAConnect and are excited to be moving forward with CPAmerica.”


Allinial Global Welcomes Two New Members in North America

Terry Snyder

Allinial Global announces that it has accepted two new member firms in North America: The Hechtman Group and Spiegel Accountancy Corp.

The Hechtman Group, Skokie, Ill. – Specializing in real estate accounting, The Hechtman Group provides accounting, tax and business consulting services to individuals, small business owners and entrepreneurs. With experience in a variety of disciplines including finance, strategy, tax and analysis, the firm delivers diverse accounting and business services in Chicago and nationwide.

Spiegel Accountancy Corp., Pleasant Hill, Calif. – Founded by Jeffrey B. Spiegel in 1991, Spiegel Accountancy Corp. is a full-service CPA firm with a specialty in the mortgage banking, private equity lending and real estate industries. The firm provides assurance, consulting and tax service to businesses of all sizes.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome these strong firms to our growing membership, and we are confident that their extensive expertise and dedication to excellence in client service will make them valuable assets to the Allinial Global community,” says Terry Snyder, president and CEO, Allinial Global.

Whalen & Company Joins CPAmerica 

Richard Crabtree

Whalen & Company of Worthington, Ohio, has joined CPAmerica accounting association of independent, CPA firms that provides shared best practices, networking opportunities and access to expert resources for member firms.

Established in 1945, Whalen & Company offers accounting, audit, business advisory and tax services for businesses and individuals. It is the fifth firm to join the accounting association since early 2018.

“We are enthusiastic about joining the CPAmerica association, and look forward to the many opportunities and relationships this will bring to our firm,” says co-MP Richard Crabtree.

CPAmerica is a member of Crowe Global, which has members in more than 750 offices in more than 130 countries and is ranked among the top-10 global accounting networks.

BKR Survey: Five Types of Flexibility Young Professionals Desire

AJ Johnson

By: AJ Johnson, executive director, Americas Region, BKR International

More accounting firms are promoting flexibility as a benefit when creating job descriptions and recruitment materials. However, the concept of flexibility can mean different things to different candidates, as BKR International discovered when surveying its current Leadership Institute participants at a recent training event in Las Vegas.

Flexibility is not just one thing – such as a flexible schedule. We found that it has a broader definition to young professionals, who view it as an important part of the firm culture.

According to the survey, here are five ways that accounting firms can promote flexibility and communicate it to candidates and their current professionals:

  1. Flexibility in scheduling

Young professionals have led the trend in flexible workdays that allow them to schedule appointments or run errands or handle a family issue without missing deadlines. This kind of outcome-based management provides autonomy for the employee and leverages technology in ways that the strict 9-to-5 mandate never could.

It’s a two-way street, of course, and professionals need to demonstrate respect for firm goals and client needs within a more agile schedule. That means sometimes working late and on weekends or attending unexpected meetings to handle workloads.

  1. Flexibility in approach

We’re not talking about the strict protocols and procedures in some areas of public accounting. It’s more about what young professionals contribute to efficiency, tools and ideas. Employees who believe that their ideas are taken into account, and even adopted, have a greater sense of ownership and purpose in the firm.

Even if your firm has tried something in the past, don’t be quick to dismiss the input from new or younger employees. They may surprise you with their logic and ability to fill in knowledge gaps you didn’t even know you had.

  1. Flexibility in dress

This isn’t a new area of flexibility, but firms may need to stretch a bit from “blue jeans Saturdays” to “dress for your day” options. Employees appreciate choosing dress that matches their responsibilities from day to day. For example, if they are visiting a construction site, it makes sense to dress for the client environment.

In addition, on days when employees are working behind a desk all day with zero client contact, comfort is a nice perk. It’s easier to transition to the gym or pick up young children for appointments after work. Keep the dress code, but define how people can flex it.

  1. Flexibility in self-expression

The most enlightening definition of flexibility I heard was flexibility in self-expression. It means that their opinions matter to firm leaders. It also means that they aren’t marginalized for their interests or personal values, which will help to maintain talent.

Whether a person is devoted to a faith tradition or has a beloved pet instead of a child, the firm environment should feel welcoming and equal in its opportunities. There is a difference between written employment policies and how the culture truly demonstrates openness to differences. Keeping in mind that personal values don’t interfere with the mission and integrity of the firm, differences can also be great for business.

  1. Flexibility in career trajectory

As firms hunt for talent and work to keep great people, they are exploring ways to remain flexible to change. Remote work arrangements, job sharing and part-time work are evolving from options to a permanent career choice in some cases. Examples include retaining a professional who moves to another state or providing the option for a formerly full-time employee to transition to part time (and back to full time later).

It’s important to discuss flexible career paths case by case. Clarify how the change in position ties to promotions or career growth at the firm, and make sure the rest of the team understands the role change too. What I’ve noticed in my interactions with members is that flexibility has a different meaning to each employee. As a result, firms are challenged with meeting a diverse set of employee needs while establishing and maintaining systems that make sound business sense.

Overall, young professionals view flexibility as a cultural must. Second only to enjoying the people and clients they work with, it’s a primary reason that they love and stay with their firms.

AJ Johnson is executive director of the Americas Region of BKR International, which represents more than 160 independent accounting and business advisory firms in over 500 offices and 80 countries. The BKR Leadership Institute has graduated more than 300 leaders of member firms.

Collins Barrow Rebrands as Baker Tilly Canada

Grant Galbraith

Collins Barrow National Cooperative Incorporated, the largest group of independent chartered accounting firms in Canada, will take on the name and visual brand of its global network, becoming Baker Tilly Canada Cooperative.

As Canadian leaders in audit, tax and advisory services, Baker Tilly Canada’s 20 firms have a long history of serving clients from coast to coast with excellence and are known for their entrepreneurial drive and mindset. Their unique network model allows each firm to retain autonomous ownership and management, while simultaneously investing in national initiatives and representation.

At a global level, Baker Tilly Canada has been the Canadian representative of the Baker Tilly International network of independent business and accounting firms since 2009, providing clients access to an international platform. With members in 147 territories and a combined worldwide revenue of $3.4 billion USD, Baker Tilly International is a respected and thriving brand on the global financial stage.

On Dec. 3, 2018, Baker Tilly International introduced a new brand and visual identity, which is now in turn the foundation for Baker Tilly Canada’s rebrand. A new tagline and purpose is at the heart of this brand evolution: “Now, for tomorrow.” It signifies the dedication and investment – at both a global and national level – to build a solid foundation of growth in the present, for the future.

The National chair of Baker Tilly Canada, Grant Galbraith, explains the value of this rebrand for the network’s firms and clients alike. “In a rapidly changing and complex financial environment, nationally and globally, our independent network is agile and evolving,” he says. “We are deeply committed to our investment in local expertise and service excellence, while embracing the power of global perspectives and connections. In doing so, we are strategically augmenting the value we provide to clients in all industries.”

“The new Baker Tilly brand is a symbol of our capacity to adapt to the ever-changing needs of clients around the world,” says Ted Verkade, CEO of Baker Tilly International. “We invest in great relationships and conversations to achieve great futures. By embracing the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow, in the present, Baker Tilly Canada is creating a catalyst for innovation, growth and client success.”

Allinial Global Launches New Program to Help Small Firms Grow

Terry Snyder

The accounting association Allinial Global has launched a new division for early stage or entrepreneurial smaller firms, called AG AdvantEdge.

This new division will help members scale up operations to compete more effectively with larger firms. Resources include technical tools, learning and development options, and networking opportunities. AG AdvantEdge also allows peers to share best practices, technical expertise and information on operational and management issues from larger Allinial Global firms.

Allinial Global’s president and CEO Terry Snyder says, “These are exciting times for Allinial Global, and we are thrilled to introduce yet another innovative approach to connecting independent firms with the resources and peers who help them grow, compete and thrive. When members collaborate to provide the best possible service and solutions, it’s a win-win for members and clients alike.”