Aprio to Partner with CPAsNET

Atlanta-based Aprio LLP, an IPA 100 firm, has entered into a new strategic partnership with accounting and business consulting association CPAsNET, allowing the association’s member group of 20 U.S. firms and 120+ international firms to benefit from the expertise and services of Aprio professionals.

Under the five-year agreement, Aprio will provide technical guidance, support and access to a range of specialty services to the association’s members, including R&D tax credits, state and local tax, cybersecurity and international tax services.

“As our profession becomes more competitive and client needs become more sophisticated, providing a comprehensive range of services and technical acumen is key to growing and retaining a loyal client base,” says Aprio CEO and MP Richard Kopelman. “This partnership with CPAsNET is another example of how Aprio is providing innovative ways to serve our fellow CPA firms and their clients.”

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Harriet Greenberg Takes Over at DFK

Harriet Greenberg

DFK International has appointed Harriet Greenberg, co-MP at New York-based IPA 100 firm Friedman LLP, as its 13th new president. In assuming the role from Roland Graf, she becomes the first woman to lead DFK.

Greenberg has more than 30 years of experience in the profession and has been a partner at Friedman since 1985. She spearheads the Women’s Development Network to encourage and mentor women at the firm.

“Harriet combines all the qualities needed as president, not least her ability to work together well with people, which is what DFK is all about,” says Graf, who will continue as a board member for a year as past president. “I also think it’s a great sign to have a woman as president, not only for DFK but for the member firms and the women working for those firms.”

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BKR Names New Worldwide CEO

Tim Morris

Tim Morris has been named the new worldwide CEO for BKR International, succeeding the retiring Howard Rosen.

Morris is the current executive director of BKR’s Eastern, Middle Eastern and African region and was previously director of his own consultancy firm in southern England, NJHM Associates Limited. His background includes work in the international, diplomatic and private sectors in countries all around the world.

“Tim brings a broad range of critical skills and attributes to this position,” says BKR International worldwide chair Manuel Rangel Jr. “He has a deep understanding of our industry, our member firms and the challenges we face.”

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PrimeGlobal to Partner With ACCA

PrimeGlobal has entered into a global agreement with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) to work together on thought leadership, professional research and insights and learning and development initiatives.

Under the agreement, the organizations will work together to support PrimeGlobal’s conferences with relevant ACCA research, enrich ACCA global research and insights through the participation of PrimeGlobal and its member firms, identify ACCA speaking opportunities for PrimeGlobal representatives and assist PrimeGlobal member firms in addressing talent-related challenges.

“ACCA is forward-looking and has excellent global research and insights, qualifications and training,” says PrimeGlobal CEO Steve Heathcote. “In particular, they support the development of digital savvy professionals – exactly the skills and knowledge our members tell us say they need for the future.”

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MPs Take Slow, Safe Approach to Reopening Offices With Dozens of Data Points to Consider

As firm professionals have adjusted – first to the shock of the pandemic and then to working from home – another anxiety-ridden shift is beginning as states slowly allow returning to work.

Firm leaders interviewed by IPA are in no rush to unlock the doors. They are giving staff the option to come back when they are comfortable to do so, while weighing the risks of reopening and consulting guidance from numerous sources: their own HR experts, legal counsel, and state and federal health officials. Some are contacting vendors to conduct temperature checks, hiring sanitation crews and planning for social-distancing safeguards that were unimaginable even a few months ago.

Here are some of their comments:

  • A survey of staff by Miami-based MBAF, an IPA 100 firm, shows close to half are so concerned about their health that they want to continue to work from home at least through the summer. To avoid staff from working too close together when the office reopens, about 40% of the 30,000 square feet will have to remain unoccupied, says MP Tony Argiz.
  • Lou Grassi, MP of New York-based Grassi, says the IPA 100 firm won’t push employees to come back to the office immediately. Staff were invited to return starting June 15, with plans to sanitize offices weekly and implement six-foot distancing and other precautions. Grassi says staff will be encouraged to give feedback. “If there’s something about this that doesn’t make sense, we need to know.”
  • At Atlanta-based Aprio, an IPA 100 firm, Larry Sheftel, vice president of human resources, says the firm has contacted vendors about on-site temperature checks, and he expects far more remote working than pre-pandemic times. He says firm leaders are well aware that many staff will likely feel nervous about coming back. “Things may not really approach normal until the fall.”

Remote work under an extended lockdown has its own stresses and many will welcome their cubicle like an old friend, but even so, employees who walked out the door in March are different people now.

Todd Nordstrom, author, public speaker and coach, writes that some will be fearful of their health; some will be grateful for the care and concern they’ve been shown; some will be raring to move forward; others will be thinking that work isn’t as important as they once believed.

“We must realize that we don’t yet understand the emotional impact this pandemic has created in the hearts and minds of employees. And, we’ll never know unless we ask,” Nordstrom says in Forbes magazine.

Here are some of the considerations, compiled from legal and business publications:

  • Remember that at a bare minimum, follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and state and local governments. Rules are constantly changing and may not be consistent.
  • Create a re-entry task force to write interim policies until the pandemic is over, including disciplinary actions for violations of policies, including frequent hand washing, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and the like. Even-handed, consistent and thoughtful are the watchwords here. Don’t wing it, the National Law Review
  • Ask employees whether they have been exposed, have a sick person at home, or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or loss of taste and smell.
  • Supply paper towels instead of hand dryers because the jets can disperse virus particles, the Harvard Business Review reported. Disable water fountains and ice machines. Close common areas altogether rather than enforce social distancing.
  • Make a plan for notifying employees if they have been in contact (within 6 feet) of a coworker who has tested positive. Attorneys say the infected staffer should not be named; otherwise employers are in violation of federal privacy laws.
  • Think about how to approach concerns from employees about actions of their coworkers who congregate in crowds outside work.
  • Review time-off policies, including sick leave, and revamp business continuity plans to deal with the next crisis.

“It will be a fragile environment, so you want to be really deliberate and consistent in how you approach things,” says Kent Lambert, managing shareholder in the New Orleans office of Baker Donelson, on the legal news website Lexology.com. “Try to be responsible and fair and even-handed and put safety first. If you approach things in that way, you’ll be in good shape.

Other resources:

CPA Exam Goes Year-Round

AICPA, NASBA and Prometric announced the launch of year-round testing for the Uniform CPA Examination. Intended to provide greater candidate flexibility and convenience, the new continuous testing model features more than 75 additional testing dates available throughout the year, replacing quarterly testing windows that allowed candidates to sit only during specified dates. Under the continuous testing model, scores will be released on a rolling basis.

“Continuous testing has been a goal for some time, and it comes in direct response to feedback from CPA exam candidates and their desire to test more frequently throughout the year,” says NASBA EVP and COO Colleen Conrad.

The 55 U.S. Boards of Accountancy have endorsed continuous testing model, and CPA exam candidates are encouraged to refer to the NASBA’s Continuous Testing Status Map to track the status of states with continuous testing for updates. Prometric reports that 3,465 test events have already been scheduled between Sept. 11-30, a previous blackout period, signifying increased flexibility and frequency in candidate testing.

Candidates can visit the AICPA CPA Exam Score Release page or follow NASBA on social media for updates and more information about continuous testing.

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CPA Canada Names New President and CEO

Charles-Antoine St-Jean

Charles-Antoine St-Jean has been appointed president and CEO of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). St-Jean’s appointment becomes effective on July 20, as he takes over for the retiring Joy Thomas.

St-Jean has worked with multiple government, corporate and not-for-profit stakeholders throughout his career, and has served as Comptroller General of Canada and chair of the Public Sector Accounting Board.

“Charles-Antoine comes with an exceptional track record and has the leadership and professional skills the board believes are required to lead CPA Canada forward,” says CPA Canada board chair Amanda Whitewood. “He will work with CPA Canada’s strong internal team and the CPA bodies across Canada and Bermuda, bringing a fresh perspective as we tackle the challenges the profession faces today and in the future.”

PrimeGlobal Welcomes Lutz

PrimeGlobal announced that Omaha, Neb.-based Lutz, an IPA 100 firm, has joined the association. Founded in 1980, Lutz is the largest locally owned accounting firm in the state of Nebraska, providing a wide range of services including tax, accounting, assurance, business consulting and valuation, as well as investments and planning, recruiting and technology services.

“Lutz is a top 100 firm with numerous service lines that mirror PrimeGlobal’s commitment to excellence,” says Michelle Arnold, PrimeGlobal’s executive director for North America. “Lutz is a world-class firm fitting perfectly within our membership.”

HRC Joins CPAmerica

CPAmerica is welcoming HRC of Las Vegas as its newest member.

HRC has specialized in tax, accounting, auditing and advisory services for a wide variety of clients both within Nevada and beyond since 1996.

“We are very excited to form this partnership with CPAmerica,” says HRC principal Jacqueline Matthew. “The prestige and resources that this strategic alliance will open up for the firm are invaluable, to say the least.”

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AICPA Votes to Advance New CPA Licensure Model

Targeting the need for a fresh approach to CPA licensing that better recognizes the rapidly changing skills and competencies of the profession, the AICPA governing board voted in its May 20 virtual meeting to advance the new CPA Evolution initiative.

Developed jointly with NASBA based on feedback from more than 3,000 stakeholders in the profession, the proposed CPA Evolution model requires candidates to complete a core in accounting, auditing, tax and technology, to be supplemented by a chosen discipline consisting of deeper skills and knowledge. Regardless of the chosen discipline, the model would lead to a single CPA license, with no requirement that the licensee be limited to his or her chosen practice area.

In putting forth the CPA Evolution model, both AICPA and NASBA have noted that this combination of a common core and specialized disciplines will provide a deeper knowledge base, while better reflecting the realities of practice and remaining open to adaptation as the profession changes over time.

For its part, the NASBA board of directors will consider a vote to support the initiative in July. If approved, the organizations will work together to implement a new uniform CPA exam by January 2024.

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