Grant Thornton Announces Leadership Transition

Chicago-based Grant Thornton LLP (FY18 net revenue of $1.9 billion) announced that CEO Mike McGuire will assume the role of CEO emeritus, effective Aug. 1. In this role, McGuire will serve as a brand ambassador for the firm, focusing on business development and supporting key client relationships. McGuire also will help execute a seamless leadership transition for the firm.

“It has been the honor of my life to lead Grant Thornton over the past five years, and I am so proud of all we’ve accomplished as a team,” says McGuire. “Our firm is on a great path to continue to create value for our clients, build on our leading quality and culture, accelerate innovation and growth, and disrupt our profession.”

Mike McGuire

“As fast as the marketplace is changing,” McGuire continued, “I believe we now need to transition as quickly as possible to new leadership that can take us on the next leg of our journey to become the ‘firm of the future’ over the next five years or more. I will do everything in my power in the coming years to help the firm navigate this transition and continue to succeed.”

Since becoming CEO in 2015, McGuire and his leadership team have steered Grant Thornton to record-setting revenue and driven its audit quality results to the top of the profession, while also investing in the firm’s culture and brand. In addition, under McGuire’s leadership, Grant Thornton has invested in innovative capabilities aimed at transforming the professional services industry in the years to come. The Partnership Board released a statement saying that, “Mike McGuire has taken our firm from the ‘now’ to the ‘next’ and on to the ‘new,’ and we thank him for his vision and leadership.”

The Partnership Board will continue its previously announced long-term CEO succession process that is currently underway with a leading executive consulting firm.

Bradley J. Preber

The firm will be led by Bradley J. Preber who will serve as interim CEO-elect, effective immediately, working closely with McGuire and other members of the senior leadership team until formally accepting the position of interim CEO on Aug. 1. Preber is currently the chairman of the Partnership Board and national managing partner of Business Risk Services for the firm. He also serves as the Phoenix OMP. Preber will temporarily step aside from these roles while he serves as interim CEO. Preber has served in a number of executive roles since joining the firm from another global public accounting firm in 2003.

Preber said, “Mike McGuire has positioned the firm well for future success, and I am prepared to lead our firm forward as our board continues the succession process.”

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Kurt Gresens Named MP of Wipfli

Kurt Gresens

Kurt Gresens

Kurt Gresens has become the new leader of Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP (FY18 net revenue of $317.9 million). Wipfli partners had previously elected Gresens, who will succeed Rick Dreher, who is completing the final term of his 13-year tenure as the firm’s MP and chairman of the board. The firm also announced that Kelly Fisher will take over Gresens’ current role of practice partner effective June 1.

Gresens has been a partner at the firm since 2006 and was elected to Wipfli’s board of directors in 2013. Most recently he has served on the firm’s leadership team as overall practice partner since 2016. During his career at Wipfli, Gresens has served a variety of clients across industries and played a key role in helping create the firm’s Vision 2020 and Wipfli 2025 strategies.

“Kurt first joined Wipfli in 1992 right after graduating from college and moved through the company’s ranks. His appointment as the new managing partner is an exciting milestone in our firm’s future and succession plan that the board has been working on for more than a year,” Dreher says. “Over the years, Kurt and Kelly have played key roles in the strategic growth and direction of the firm, and we are very confident in their ability to take Wipfli to the next level.”

“Under Rick’s guidance and leadership, Wipfli has achieved ambitious growth, and he has paved an excellent path for us to follow,” says Gresens. He adds that Fisher “brings with her a strong transformational mindset and extensive experience implementing new technologies. Her deep knowledge and ability to identify and put ambitious goals into action will help accelerate the firm’s transformation.”

Fisher, who previously led the tax practice, has more than 17 years of public accounting experience in manufacturing, technology, professional services and international operations, including experience with a Big 4 accounting firm.

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CohnReznick Elects David Kessler Next CEO

David A. Kessler

David A. Kessler

New York-based CohnReznick LLP (FY18 net revenue of $623.7 million) announces that the partnership group has elected David A. Kessler to serve as its next CEO starting Feb. 1, 2020 at the completion of CEO Frank Longobardi’s term.

Kessler is a member of CohnReznick’s executive board and is currently the MP for the real estate practice, the firm’s largest industry practice, directing the strategies and overseeing operations for the affordable housing, commercial real estate, construction and tax credit groups.

He led CohnReznick’s commercial real estate practice for many years, building a strong national practice and reputation for the firm among developers, investors, private equity fund managers, REITs and other industry stakeholders.  He is actively involved with the firm’s advisory, assurance and tax practices.

Kessler previously served as the co-OMP of the firm’s Bethesda, Md., office, where he is based. Kessler is a home-grown leader who began his career at CohnReznick legacy firm Reznick Fedder & Silverman immediately after graduation from the University of Maryland. He has been with CohnReznick for more than 33 years.

Kessler frequently speaks on a variety of business topics at conferences throughout the U.S. and has developed and taught real estate accounting courses at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland.

“My goal is to build upon Frank’s outstanding leadership by continuing to distinguish CohnReznick as the firm with an inclusive environment to foster the careers of our people while providing state of the art solutions to help our clients achieve their vision for their businesses,” Kessler says.

Longobardi will continue in his role as CEO while working closely with Kessler during the transition. “As a highly skilled and experienced advisor, David’s approach to client service clearly demonstrates that being immersed in the issues and opportunities for your industry builds successful relationships and propels growth,” Longobardi says. “His vision for this firm is exciting and I am confident in his ability to lead CohnReznick’s next chapter of success.”

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Eide Bailly Plans Big Expansion into California With Merger

Fargo, N.D.-based Eide Bailly (FY18 net revenue of $299.2 million) has acquired Vavrinek Trine Day & Company (VDT).

Effective July 22, the combination will add 11 California offices and an expanded Phoenix office to Eide Bailly, ranked No. 20 on the 2018 IPA 100 list.

“The addition of VTD launches us into California with exceptional local talent and a culture that matches our own dedication to client service and being an employer of choice for our staff,” Dave Stende, Eide Bailly MP and CEO says in a statement. “This combination deepens our expertise in several key industries that Eide Bailly serves.”

VTD, established in 1948, specializes in government, education, commercial, tax and financial institutions. Becoming part of Eide Bailly will bring tremendous opportunities for both clients and staff, says Kevin Pulliam, VTD MP.

“Eide Bailly’s knowledge, resources and consulting services will allow us to help our clients more fully. Whether it is technology consulting, wealth planning, or some other industry-specific advisory services, we’re excited to be able to offer more,” Pulliam says in statement. “On top of this, Eide Bailly is a firm of talented and down-to-earth people. They care deeply for the well-being of their clients, staff and communities; this describes us, too.”

VTD will add 42 partners and 280 staff to Eide Bailly, bringing totals to 331 partners and 2,400 staff. The firm will have more than 40 offices in 15 states.

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Brown Schultz Sheridan & Fritz Merges In RLH CPAs & Business Advisors

Camp Hill, Pa.-based Brown Schultz Sheridan & Fritz (BSSF) (FY17 net revenue of $14.1 million) will add 31 employees June 1 when the firm joins with RLH CPAs & Business Advisors.

RLH has offices in Hanover, Pa., and two in Maryland in Frederick and Westminster.

The merger will expand BSSF’s footprint into Maryland and increase firm size to more than 130 employees.

“RLH is committed to providing the best for our clients, and we look forward to joining a firm like BSSF that will allow us to add and strengthen our expertise and service areas,” says Ryan Hastings, co-MP of RLH. “This is an opportunity that benefits our clients, and like BSSF, we truly believe in helping our clients achieve extraordinary outcomes.”

Both firms have been named a Best Place to Work in Pennsylvania for a number of years.

With the merger, BSSF will become a five-office firm, adding the three RLH locations to their Pennsylvania office locations in Camp Hill and Lancaster.

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BDO USA Expands Advisory Practice With AC Lordi Acquisition

Chicago-based BDO USA LLP (FY18 net revenue of $1.46 billion) has announced the acquisition of AC Lordi (FY17 net revenue of $18.7 million) of Malvern, Pa., effective June 1.

The addition brings 100 professions to BDO and expands its foothold in the Philadelphia area while expanding its advisory offerings. AC Lordi CEO Frank Lordi, along with the firm’s six other principals, will become BDO partners.

Founded in 2001, AC Lordi specializes in accounting, risk and compliance, business advisory and CFO services. The firm’s practice areas include SEC reporting, technical accounting, internal and IT audit, SOX compliance and finance transformation, among others. The firm has performed work throughout the U.S. and in more than 20 countries for a broad range of clients.

“As part of such a high-caliber advisory practice, we can take advantage of BDO’s resources and relationships nationally and around the world,” Lordi says, “In turn, our team will deepen BDO’s management consulting and regulatory compliance credentials in addition to strengthening its presence in the mid-Atlantic region. We are stronger together than apart.”

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Brown Edwards Acquires Two Virginia Practices of Cherry Bekaert

Roanoke, Va.-based Brown Edwards (FY18 net revenue of $42.5 million) has announced the acquisition of two practices of Richmond, Va.-based Cherry Bekaert (FY18 net revenue of $194.7 million).

The deal, effective June 1, involves the Roanoke and Lynchburg, Va., practices. Cherry Bekaert partners Randy Burton and Richard Hedley in Roanoke will be joining Brown Edwards, as will most of the staff located in both offices. A significant number of Cherry Bekaert’s clients are also expected to transition to Brown Edwards.

“This acquisition not only solidifies Brown Edwards’ position as the largest firm in these markets, with 15 partners and 92 professional staff between the two offices, but also allows the Cherry Bekaert clients more local resources and access to immediate and local decision making,” says Brown Edwards CEO Jason Hartman. “As Brown Edwards continues to grow throughout the region, we feel these acquisitions demonstrate a firm commitment to the Roanoke and Lynchburg communities, our business and individual clients, and our employees in the area.”

An IPA 100 firm, Brown Edwards provides assurance, tax and business advisory services to a diverse clientele throughout Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. The Roanoke acquisition will result in a new office for Brown Edwards while the Cherry Bekaert office in Lynchburg will transition to the Brown Edwards office there.

“Through the efforts of many in our community, we are seeing great things happen in our local economy,” Burton says. “As evidenced by this investment by Brown Edwards, we are both committed to furthering and supporting that impact.”

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Armanino Expands to Orange County with Bolar Hirsch & Jennings Deal

San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino LLP (FY17 net revenue of $242.7 million) has acquired Bolar Hirsch & Jennings LLP of Irvine, Calif., (FY18 net revenue of $18.8 million) effective June 1.  This transaction expands Armanino into Orange County and builds on the firm’s existing presence in Southern California.

“Bolar Hirsch & Jennings is a highly specialized tax firm with an amazing group of people and will put us in the hub of Orange County, where they have created a successful and trusted brand for nearly 30 years,” says Matt Armanino, CEO of Armanino LLP. “Armanino has been strategically investing in the Southern California market to ensure we can better serve the market with an expanded geographic footprint that covers all the major hubs in the region. With this addition, we will now have a total of five offices throughout Southern California.”

Bolar Hirsch & Jennings’ robust tax practice includes specialization in high-net-worth individuals, real estate and corporate tax solutions. This expertise is complemented by Armanino’s existing ability to serve individuals with a full family-office offering and businesses with expanded tax expertise and audit, consulting and technology solutions. The transaction brings value to individual tax clients looking for greater depth of expertise and a full suite of household finance solutions, and to Orange County-based companies that can take advantage of a wider set of available solutions to assist businesses at any stage of their lifecycle, from startup to wind-down.

“Our focus on driving the best results for clients is why Bolar Hirsch & Jennings is a top accounting firm in Orange County, and joining with Armanino will allow us to bring even more solutions to clients that will make their lives easier and optimize their business operations,” says David Hirsch, co-MP at Bolar Hirsch & Jennings. “This transaction not only expands our capabilities, but gives clients access to a large network of experts, including a real estate team well versed in real estate investment trusts (REITs), private equity funds and audit capabilities for all real estate businesses.”

“Bolar Hirsch & Jennings is a top-flight firm in Orange County with a stellar reputation for its client service and acuity in niche tax matters,” says Allan Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group, who advised both firms. “With this agreement, Armanino is extremely well positioned throughout Southern California.”

The former Bolar Hirsch & Jennings team will continue to operate from its Irvine office at 18101 Von Karman Ave., 14th floor.

Armanino’s strong growth is anchored in its pursuit of expanded service lines, technology solutions and specialized expertise. The firm has been listed on INSIDE Public Accounting’s Best of the Best Firms list for 17 out of the last 18 years and is regularly featured in best places to work lists.

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McGuire Sponsel, Ernst & Morris Announce Union

McGuire Sponsel of Indianapolis, a specialty tax and consulting firm, announced a merger with Ernst & Morris of Marietta, Ga., which specializes in cost segregation.

McGuire Sponsel also specializes in cost segregation, which is the process of identifying property assets in order to optimize depreciation deductions of federal taxes. The firm also focuses on various tax credits and incentives.

Firm leaders say the merged entity, which will operate as McGuire Sponsel, was “piloted by choice and a mutual opportunity to offer additional benefits to clients.”

TJ Sponsel, co-founder and managing shareholder says, “Beyond the combination of significant cost segregation expertise, we share important core values and the foundational belief that successful relationships are built on trust and integrity. We also share a commitment to serving clients with an unmatched passion for this business, focused on clients and meaningful collaboration.”

Ernst & Morris is one of the nation’s oldest and largest firms dedicated to cost segregation studies. The firm, founded in 1993, operates in all 50 states – for both CPA firms and property owners.

“Merging with McGuire Sponsel provides tremendous opportunity for our clients, beginning with access to additional practices and a seasoned research and development practice to complement our work in cost segregation,” says Alan Smith, managing director at Ernst & Morris.

“This is a substantial combination of industry forces,” says Gary Shamis, CEO of Cleveland-based Winding River Consulting. “McGuire Sponsel has quickly developed a national reputation for high-level advisory work, and Dave McGuire is a leading industry expert. Ernst & Morris is an industry pioneer and considered to be one of the top cost segregation boutique firms in the country. It’s a sizable concentration of technical expertise, proven track records and client-focused service.”

Brady Ware Dealership Advisors Announces New Business Model, Merger

After more than 30 years as both a local auto dealership CFO and auto industry CPA in Columbus, Ohio, Sean McCarthy has joined Brady Ware Dealership Advisors as a director and merged his practice into the firm.

Dayton, Ohio-based Brady Ware & Company also announced that Brady Ware Dealership Advisors has launched a new business model that offers comprehensive consulting services to its 90-plus auto dealership clients throughout the Midwest and the Southeast.

Sean McCarthy

Sean McCarthy

“Sean is more than a CPA,” says Brady Ware Director Sam Agresti. “He is an industry expert in buy/sell transactions and will provide true CFO-level services to our clients.

McCarthy says, “I started working in the auto industry in 1989 and I’ve seen my clients through a number of industry changes, navigating through everything from a massive recession to swings in buying trends and the evolution of car buying in a digital world. The model that Brady Ware has created to evolve the services CPAs can offer to their clients is a game changer for financial consultants. I now have a tool kit of solutions for dealerships that strategically address inefficiencies impacting their bottom line, and the resources to fix them.”

Brady Ware Dealership Advisors now offers comprehensive consulting services designed to focus on being more tax efficient, safeguarding dealership assets and helping dealerships with succession. Dealerships can choose from 20 different services designed to improve processes and procedures in different departments. Some of the new services focus on fixed and variable operations enhancement, fraud and safeguarding assets, employee placement services, warranty reimbursement and digital marketing.

Digital marketing and advertising, for instance, is one of the largest monthly expenditures apart from labor but ROI is difficult to measure for many dealerships. “The way people buy cars is very different today than it was 10 years ago,” says Justin Ward, digital marketing consultant. “By the time a person hits the lot, they’ve done their research, picked out their car, and are likely just coming in to pick it up.” Dealerships don’t have a full understanding of what their dollars are buying and how that translates to ROI, he says. “That’s where we come in.”

McCarthy says, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure. This team allows us to measure every aspect of the dealership business and create solutions that help them fill a need, grow their operation and best position them for the future.”

Brady Ware has offices in Ohio, Indiana and Georgia.

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