LEA Global Appoints New CEO

Tony Szczepaniak

Cleveland-based LEA Global, an association of independent accounting firms, has appointed Anthony Szczepaniak as CEO.

Szczepaniak’s career includes 15 years leading Fortune 500 corporate tax teams and 15 years in public accounting, including as a tax partner serving primarily middle market clients. He most recently led the Moore North America accounting and consulting firm association.

“Tony brings perspective from outside the industry with his corporate roles, inside the industry with his public accounting experience, and the very specific expertise gained in leading an international association,” says LEA global board chair and Fuller Landeau MP Michael D. Newton. “Under his leadership and growth mindset, we will further strengthen the LEA Global community and move forward into the future.”

Looking Beyond the Pandemic for Accounting Firm Success

The COVID-19 crisis is illuminating the benefits of sharing knowledge, helping others and staying connected, say executives of global accounting associations.

Member firms are busier than ever answering client questions and concerns related to the global pandemic, including extended tax deadlines, aid packages and the like, but it is also a good time for firm leaders to reexamine how they are positioning themselves in the market and the role their firms play in their clients’ lives.

Association executives from Scotland to Atlanta gathered in a live video conversation on March 25 hosted by futurist Ian Khan to discuss the issues. He was joined by economist Sandra Saghir and the CEOs of Allinial Global, PKF International, Morison KSI and PrimeGlobal.

Some of the changes firms were forced to make, including moving to the cloud and enabling remote work, have been embraced for years, but not by every firm. The pros and cons will be worked out in real time during the pandemic for those firms. PrimeGlobal’s Stephen Heathcote notes that some MPs are already changing their mindsets about how they run their firms – viewing multiple offices as a costly hindrance rather than a must-have.

As for client service, James Hickey, of PKF International, suggests that firms will need a new go-to-market strategy because the profession as a whole is good at proscribing what clients need but bad at asking clients what they want. At a three-day conference last year, the word ‘client’ was mentioned only five times, he says. In light of the economic downturn, some businesses may forgo advisory services after tax season, “so we’ll have to find out what they need after that and use two ears, not one.”

Terry Snyder, Allinial Global CEO agrees. Done correctly, clients will realize just how valuable CPAs are, because business owners tend to seek out their CPAs much sooner than other professionals in a crisis. It’s up to firm leaders to put themselves in front of clients to help them through this difficult time. Every now and then, he says, people rethink their roles and reinvent themselves. “Sometimes you have to be shaken really hard to get people to do that.”

Firms should go on overdrive to reach out to clients, even if it feels like too much communication, they say. A global economic slowdown has accompanied the health crisis, and as businesses are shuttered around the world, CPAs are a source of reassurance and answers on how to prepare for the aftermath.

Saghir says that accountants will be key actors in moving toward economic sustainability. Build your skills and develop trust with your clients so that when the economy starts moving again, “they’ll know that during hardships you were standing by them.”

Abacus Worldwide to Merge in JHI

Two associations plan to merge on Sept. 1: Miami-based Abacus Worldwide, which represents both law and accounting firms, and JHI of Hillside, N.J.

The combined global business association – to be known as Abacus Worldwide ­– will focus on the key initiatives of business referrals, knowledge exchange and practice management tools going forward.

JHI plans to finalize its vote to merge into Abacus Worldwide following its general meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, in July. Brian Pashen, JHI International chairman, says merging will increase geographic coverage and global connections to both accounting and law firms.

When both associations join, the organization will have 125 legal and accounting firm members, with 5,600 total staff in 236 offices in 56 countries.

“Going forward, our strategy will focus on regional efforts and further supporting member needs. We are confident that we will have a great future together,” says Abacus Worldwide president and CEO Julio Gabay.

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Maryland CPAs Seek ‘Essential Business’ Designation During Shutdown

Maryland Gov. Lawrence Hogan this morning ordered all non-essential businesses in the state to close, but the Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA) is asking Hogan to make an exception for CPAs.

Anticipating the shutdown, a March 21 letter to Hogan asked that the CPA profession be included on the list of essential critical infrastructure workforce exceptions.

Tom Hood

MACPA president and CEO Tom Hood requested the designation, which would allow public accountants to go to their physical offices as needed, while maintaining appropriate social distancing by staffing at less than 50% of office capacity. Hood’s argument notes that while many CPAs have implemented remote work, there are some critical functions that are required to be done in the office, including payroll and banking in secure systems, as well as processing mail with checks, invoices and other financial correspondence.

He further argues that CPAs are essential to the U.S. economy due to their work on compliance with federal and state tax and financial reporting requirements, the preparation of taxes, audits and financial reports for business financing and loans, and projections and contingency planning for businesses. And, since the financial services sector has been designated as one of 16 essential critical infrastructure areas by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, MACPA believes CPAs should surely be included in that designation.

This is a fluid situation, so please check with your state societies for any updates.

Allinial Global Welcomes U.S. Virgin Islands Firm

Allinial Global, the association of independent accounting and consulting firms, has admitted new member firm Rodney & Associates of Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The firm offers a broad range of services, from basic tax management and accounting to more in-depth audits, financial statements and financial planning. It serves individuals and businesses in a variety of industries.

The association also admitted Khan Akber & Co. Chartered Accountants in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and TW Thompson & Co., Bridgetown, Barbados.

“We’re pleased to welcome our new members and confident that their unique capabilities and reputations for client-focused service will bring significant value to the Allinial Global community,” says Terry Snyder, Allinial Global president and CEO. “Adding high-quality member firms in key locations helps us provide the seamless global connectivity our membership expects when addressing the complex needs of their clients and prospects.”

Allinial Global has 231 members with locations throughout the world generating about $3.3 billion in collective revenues.

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DMJ & Co. Joins Geneva Group International

Greensboro, N.C.-based DMJ & Co. (FY18 net revenue of $13.4 million) has joined Geneva Group International (GGI), an international accounting, consulting and law firm alliance.

DMJ, joining as an independent member, is the only accounting firm in the GGI network in North Carolina. The firm offers wealth management services, medical and dental practice consulting, technology and international tax consulting, cost segregation, ERISA audits and succession planning for private businesses.

Through GGI, DMJ can access more than 26,000 experts on local regulations, compliance and go-to-market strategies, GGI says. The alliance has over 540 members with some 740 offices in 120 countries.

DMJ, which has additional offices in Durham, Sanford and Wilmington, N.C., is also a member of CPAmerica.

More news from DMJ & Co.

Allinial Global Welcomes New Member Strothman and Company

Allinial Global welcomes a new North American member – Louisville, Ky.-based Strothman and Company, which has additional offices in Middletown, Ky., and Jeffersonville, Ind.

Formed in 1983, Strothman and Company provides a range of integrated services, including assurance/audit, tax, strategic advisory services and entrepreneurial business solutions. Their industry expertise spans multiple sectors, including construction, creative services, government, health care, manufacturing and distribution, nonprofits, professional services, real estate, retail, technology and software.

“In addition to helping us enhance our geographic coverage, Strothman’s commitment to integrated and personalized client service makes them a great match for Allinial Global as we continue to focus on providing client-centric solutions,” says Terry Snyder, Allinial Global’s president and CEO.

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BDO Alliance Welcomes 5 New Firms

BDO Alliance USA, the alliance of independently owned accounting, consulting and service firms, welcomes five new CPA firms as members.

The new members are: Tulsa, Okla.-based CCK Strategies, San Francisco-based Bregante+Company (FY18 net revenue of $10.6 million), Martin DeCruze & Company of Stamford, Conn., Fasten Halberstam of New York, and Hall & Company CPAs & Consultants of Irvine, Calif.

The BDO Alliance USA now has 215 CPA member firms in over 500 locations nationwide.

CCK Strategies serves small and middle-market companies, entrepreneurs and wealthy families in the greater Tulsa, Okla., and Frisco, Texas, marketplaces. They specialize in serving manufacturing, real estate, oil and gas, and health care-related businesses.

Bregante+Company serves closely held businesses and high-net-worth individuals throughout northern California.

Martin DeCruze & Company serves private equity firms, closely held businesses and high-net-worth individuals primarily throughout Fairfield County, Conn.

Fasten Halberstam serves high-net-worth individuals and privately held businesses, with a specialization in real estate and health care, primarily throughout the New York metropolitan area.

Hall & Company CPAs & Consultants serves privately held businesses, SEC clients and high-net-worth individuals primarily throughout Southern California. They specialize in serving real estate/construction, law firms and manufacturers.

More news from BDO Alliance USA

MICPA Appoints Robert Doyle as Next Chief Executive

The Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants has announced the appointment of Robert Doyle as its new president and CEO, following Peggy A. Dzierzawski, who is retiring March 31.

“Peggy is an association icon in Michigan and around the country…those are big shoes, and I’m humbled by the opportunity to fill them,” Doyle says.

Doyle is a business leader who has directed the advocacy, marketing and communications efforts for the Association for Advancing Automation headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., as well as Robotic Industries Association and A3 Mexico. Doyle has extensive board governance and strategic planning experience.

“For over 22 years, Peggy has done a remarkable job of directing the MICPA with distinction,” says MICPA Chair David Echelbarger, MP of EHTC in Grand Rapids, Mich. He describes Doyle as passionate, strategic and with a deep understanding of emerging technologies and their application within associations.

Dzierzawski became president and CEO of the MICPA in 1997. She has served on numerous state and national committees, and supports various professional and philanthropic initiatives. She is a 2006 inductee into the Michigan Society of Association Executives Hall of Fame.

Three New Member Firms Join Accounting Association CPAmerica

The following three firms have joined CPAmerica: Freemont, Calif.-based Greenstein Rogoff Olsen & Co. (FY18 net revenue of $8.6 million), Wayne, Pa.-based Stephano Slack and Fond du Lac, Wis.-based Huberty & Associates.

Greenstein Rogoff Olsen & Co. (GROCO) provides consulting services and accounting services to high-net-worth individuals and closely held businesses. Stephano Slack is a regional CPA firm specializing in middle-market companies, and Huberty & Associates is a professional service firm that operates both locally in southeastern Wisconsin, and virtually using collaborative, online technology.

Alan Deichler, president of CPAmerica, says of the new firms, “They belong to a group that is determined to improve through sharing and where members support each other’s success through discussing best practices, sharing experiences and building professional relationships.”

Fourteen new firms joined the accounting association during 2019.

CPAmerica, an association of independent CPA firms, is a member of Crowe Global, which has members in more than 750 offices in more than 130 countries.

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