Trade Publication Names Top 50 Construction Accounting Firms

Construction Executive, a trade publication covering the business of construction, has ranked its top 50 construction accounting firms.

Construction accounting, the magazine says, is one of the most complicated forms of business accounting. “All top CPAs are well versed in accounting, bookkeeping and tax advice. The best bring balance and stability to thousands of construction companies as highly trusted business advisors.”

In the magazine’s first ranking of construction accounting firms, which was included in the July/August issue, the top five firms are listed as CLA (FY18 net revenue of $954.6 million), Chicago-based RSM (FY19 net revenue of $2.43 billion), Chicago-based Crowe (FY19 net revenue of $951.9 million) Seattle-based Moss Adams (FY18 net revenue of $691 million), and Milwaukee-based Wipfli (FY19 net revenue of $362.5million). Find the full listing here.

To determine the ranking, according to Skoda Minotti (FY18 net revenue of $59.4 million), which ranked 33rd, Construction Executive asked hundreds of U.S. accounting firms with a construction practice to complete a survey. Data collected included:

  • Revenues from the construction practice in 2018
  • The number of CPAs in the construction practice
  • The percentage of the firm’s total revenues from the construction practice
  • The number of construction clients in 2018
  • The number of office locations with a construction accounting practice
  • The number of employees with CCIFP certification
  • The year the construction accounting practice was established

The final ranking was determined by an algorithm that weighted these factors in descending order of importance.

The magazine also surveyed accounting professionals on top issues within the industry and quotes professionals from 11 CPA firms on the biggest concerns expressed by their clients.

They report that the No. 1 issue is the labor deficit, and other big worries are business succession, cybersecurity, the impacts of climate change on the bottom line and the possibility of an impending recession.

The results are similar to that of a separate, three-month-long survey of New York contractors and construction industry leaders, conducted by an independent research firm for New York-based Grassi & Co. (FY18 net revenue of $63.6 million). The top concern was the shortage of skilled labor. Other concerns are regulatory compliance, such as minority/women-owned business rules and New York labor laws. Cybersecurity was also raised as a worry, with 76% of respondents saying that the number of people with access to worksite data was a significant security concern. (To receive a copy of the Grassi survey, contact Jennifer Maizel or call (516) 918-5927.)

Overall, however, the outlook among construction industry leaders is positive, according to Joseph Natarelli, national construction services industry leader at New York-based Marcum LLP (FY18 net revenue of $549.7 million). He told Construction Executive: “We have seen a major increase in the number of commercial construction backlogs and improvement in the general business environment. Infrastructure, hospitality and office construction, in particular, have been standouts.”

The magazine advises, “To ensure a healthy business lifespan, treat your relationship with your experienced construction CPA as you would a trusted doctor. Check in regularly, show them everything, heed their advice and get a second opinion if needed.”

A Conversation With BKD’s Dawn Howard On Misunderstandings, Expectations And Buying Decisions

Dawn Howard

Dawn Howard is the marketing director for the East Region of Springfield, Mo.-based BKD (FY18 net revenue of $594.6 million). She is responsible for working with 13 offices in seven states in developing and executing their commercial industries’ strategic marketing initiatives. She is passionate about business development coaching and mentoring for all levels of accounting professionals. Based in she is pursuing her master’s degree in management at the University of Indianapolis.

IPA caught up with Howard recently during a break at the AICPA’s 2019 ENGAGE conference in Las Vegas, where she presented a session on developing a strong sales pipeline process.

What should MPs understand about marketers? I think MPs need to check in with their marketing professionals about whether they feel empowered to hold partners accountable on following up with prospects. If they’re five years or less in the industry they may not feel they have the power to go to a 20-year partner and say, ‘Hey, you’re paying me to help grow the firm, I need to have this conversation with you.’ The MP needs to understand that sometimes they literally need to go to their marketing personnel and say, ‘I need you to know that I have your back.’ A lot of changes can come about with that one simple thing.

What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding managing partners have about the marketing function? MPs need to identify the line of demarcation between business development and marketing, and they need an understanding of what the firm or their particular office actually needs. Do we need someone who’s better on the PR side, or do we need a true business developer? It’s hard to find someone who is equally strong, as well as passionate, in both areas.

How would you define the difference? A business developer has a different mindset. Sales is a process-driven event, certainly in professional services – it’s a relationship game. Marketers look at the holistic view of the marketplace, in placement of ads or PR, so it’s a little bit different. They’re both good, but the MP has to make a determination that if one person is handling both things, that person needs some direction on what is expected. Sometimes marketing personnel think they know what the MP wants and vice versa. It’s imperative to have more than a once-a-year review to get something accomplished with that. My two favorite words strung together (other than free lunch) is ‘realistic expectations,’ and sometimes neither side has that.

Where do you think accounting marketing is going? Does it seem like it is going more in the direction of business development? The way the industry is going is that marketers are starting to understand two things better – one is the business development aspect of their job and the other part is the way that digital is playing into their job. We all have to be business developers. I’m taking a class at the University of Indianapolis right now, and they’re focusing on looking at HR from the outside in, from the perspective of an investor looking at a company. I think marketing needs to start doing that too, even though we don’t have investors, per se, but clients, as well as prospects and the general business marketplace, are on the outside looking in. Marketing people are really closet psychologists when we’re thinking about buyer behavior. For example, you’re not getting a buyer who has $20 million of their own money to suddenly change their advisor overnight, that’s a huge relationship sale. Being able to look at those clients and to understand what actually drives how they make decisions is huge, and really should be included as a part of the sales training for internal marketers.

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Name Change for BKD Corporate Finance

BKD Corporate Finance is celebrating its 25-year milestone with a new name: BKD Capital Advisors, LLC.

BKD Capital Advisors (BKDCA) is the investment banking arm of Springfield, Mo.-based BKD (FY18 net revenue of $594.6 million).

BKDCA provides investment banking services to clients both internally and externally. In the last five years ,it has hired senior middle-market bankers, expanded from three to six offices and broadened its international reach.

After reviewing the breadth of services BKDCA currently provides, leadership decided it was crucial to include “advisors” in the new name to better communicate the broad range of investment banking advisory services. “Advisory is the most important aspect of the services we provide to our clients who, in a liquidity event, are potentially going through the most important transaction of their career,” says BKDCA President Tony Giordano.

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BKD Red Team Launched to Help Fight Cyberattacks

BKD Cyber has announced the addition of a new service named BKD Red Team to its service line. BKD Red Team is a digital attack simulation that can emulate the actions a hacker might take during a cyberattack. The simulation results are then used in training sessions with the client’s IT security department.

“We look forward to working with organizations to help them better prepare for these attacks by anticipating what a hacker would do once inside their network as well as train their security team,” says Cindy Boyle, partner and team leader with BKD Cyber. BKD Cyber is a service of Springfield, Mo.-based BKD (FY18 net revenue of $594.6 million).

BKD Cyber professionals can perform this simulated digital attack under controlled conditions using the same actions that actual cybercriminals could use to access and harvest data from an organization. This exercise can help assess how a real-world breach would affect an organization. BKD Red Team also can train security teams to more quickly respond to a cyber incident.

In addition to showing a network’s vulnerabilities, BKD Red Team can identify the actual data that was compromised, the firm says. The team can provide recommendations on how to better safeguard sensitive data and avoid costly breaches. According to the Ponemon Institute “2018 Cost of a Data Breach study,” the total cost of a data breach averaged $3.86 million, up almost $250,000 from the previous year. In addition, it takes organizations an average of 197 days to realize they’ve been breached.

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Dawson Joins Frazier & Deeter as an International Tax Partner

James Dawson

James Dawson

Atlanta-based Frazier & Deeter (FY18 net revenue of $96 million) announced that James Dawson has joined the firm as a tax partner with a focus on international tax.

“Jim’s years of experience serving the complex needs of global enterprises makes him an excellent addition to our tax team,” says Terri Lawson, PIC of Tax. “As our international tax practice continues to grow his expertise in foreign tax planning and cross border transactions will add value to Frazier & Deeter’s multi-national clients.”

Dawson will serve as a business and tax advisor to growing U.S. and foreign enterprises, focusing on tax efficient global supply chain management, structuring of international business models and operations, cross border transactions, project management and coordination of services in foreign jurisdictions.

“It is exciting to contribute to a rapidly growing international firm like Frazier & Deeter, with an entrepreneurial mindset and focus on exceeding client expectations,” says Dawson.

Prior to joining FD, Dawson served as an international tax partner with two accounting firms, serving in both U.S. and international leadership positions.

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Seiler Elevates Nancy Young to the Partnership

Nancy Young

Redwood City, Calif.-based Seiler LLP (FY17 net revenue of $54.4 million) has admitted Nancy Young to the partnership group.

“Nancy is an outstanding addition to the partnership. She has a long track record of successfully advising clients on a range of national and cross-border tax and business matters, and has done phenomenal work leading our U.S.-China practice,” says COO George D. Marinos.

Young, who joined Seiler after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, advises multi-state and multi-national corporations and partnerships, as well as high-net-worth multi-generational family groups. She has deep expertise in tax planning and compliance, estate and charitable giving matters, stock options, foreign transactions, IRS and Franchise Tax Board representations and business planning, as well as considerable experience providing assurance services and overseeing audit engagements for tax clients.

Fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, Young is Seiler’s HLB Global China service representative, and leads U.S.-China engagements and services for international clients. She is also the co-chair of the firm’s tax committee and co-leader of the business tax business development group.

“Seiler has been my professional home throughout my career and I’m very proud to join the partnership,” says Young, who is based in the firm’s Redwood City office. “I look forward to playing a more significant role here moving forward as Seiler continues to provide world-class service to our clients in the San Francisco Bay area and around the world.”

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Henry+Horne Admits Hemmerle to Partnership

Brian Hemmerle

Tempe, Ariz.-based Henry+Horne (FY18 net revenue of $27 million) announces the admittance of Brian Hemmerle to the partnership, bringing the total number of partners to 17. He will serve as the PIC of government services.

Hemmerle joined the government niche at Henry+Horne in 2009. He has over 10 years experience providing audit services for governmental and not-for-profit entities.

“Brian has demonstrated professionalism, commitment and exceptional client service throughout his career. He is very deserving of this promotion,” say co-MPs Chuck Goodmiller and Chuck Inderieden.

Hemmerle is based in Henry+Horne’s Tempe office.

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CohnReznick Adds Four to Restructuring and Dispute Resolution Practice

New York-based CohnReznick LLP (FY18 net revenue of $623.7 million) has admitted three principals and one partner to its restructuring and dispute resolution practice.

Cynthia Romano, principal, will join Kevin Clancy to co-lead the practice. She is based in the New York and Jericho, N.Y., offices. Both are responsible for strategic growth, client relations, marketing and talent development. Romano has more than 25 years of experience in performance improvement, turnaround management, transaction support and investment analysis across a range of key industries.

Eric Danner

Eric Danner, partner, is based in Boston and New York, where he provides advisory services to publicly traded and privately held companies, serving a range of industries. With more than 20 years of experience, Danner focuses on crisis management, as well as implementing turnaround business plans tailored to clients’ specific needs.

Antony Walker, principal, is based in Boston. Walker has 30 years of experience in financial and operational planning and execution, as well as turnaround and crisis leadership. He serves clients across numerous major industries, including health care, hospitality, manufacturing, not-for-profit, retail and technology.

Chris Creger, principal, is based in New York and New Jersey. He provides financial advisory, business restructuring and transaction support services to corporations, debtors, bondholders, hedge funds, law firms, lending institutions, private equity firms, secured lenders, unsecured creditors and other constituents.

These seasoned financial and operational restructuring professionals are a valuable strategic addition, the firm announced. Collectively, they bring a wealth of experience with prior employment at numerous top firms, including Bain, BDO, CR3, CRG, Deloitte, Epiq, PwC and TRG. With the addition of these new partners, the practice is able to expand and enhance its national debtor, creditor and fiduciary services across key industries including financial services, health care, manufacturing and technology.

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Berkowitz Pollack Brant Announces Addition of Director of Audit and Attest Services

Brent Leslie

Miami-based Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors and Accountants (FY17 net revenue of $57.9 million) announces that Brent Leslie has joined the firm as a director in the audit and attest services practice.

Leslie is based in the firm’s West Palm Beach, Fla., office.

He joins the firm from a national accounting firm and has nearly 15 years of experience assisting growing companies with audit and assurance, transaction advisory, budgeting and forecasting and implementation of new accounting standards. He also has experience with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), internal controls and exit strategy planning.

“Brent has a broad range of experience and is deeply entrenched in the Palm Beach business community,” says CEO Joseph L. Saka. “He will be a valued resource for clients, as well as a leader and mentor to our younger firm members as we grow and expand our footprint in Palm Beach.”

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BKD Acquires Texas Firm Teegardin & Associates CPAs

Springfield, Mo.-based BKD (FY18 net revenue of $594.6 million) announces that Teegardin & Associates CPAs of Austin, Texas, will join the firm June 1.

CEO Ted Dickman says, “Teegardin & Associates’ commitment to client service and true expertise will help us achieve our goals as we move forward.” The firm, which specializes in tax, accounting and family office services, will grow BKD’s capabilities in the Austin market.

“As the state’s capital and status as one of the top technology and innovation cities in the nation, Austin has been a key target of growth for BKD for several years,” says Tom Watson, new MP of BKD’s South region. “The addition of Teegardin & Associates provides exciting capabilities, broadens our reach and gives BKD a presence in the five largest business markets in Texas.”

As of June 1, BKD will have 40 offices in 18 states.

Teegardin & Associates’ one partner, one managing director and approximately 12 staff will remain at their current location at 500 North Capital of Texas Highway. Jon McDowell, based in San Antonio, will serve as OMP.

“This is a great opportunity for all involved,” says MP Tricia Teegardin Edwards. “We’re looking forward to joining BKD and leveraging our skills and local connections to help BKD become a leading CPA and advisory firm in the Austin market.”

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