Clarus Partners Merges with Blue & Co.

Columbus, Ohio-based Clarus Partners (FY18 net revenue of $6.3 million) has merged with Carmel, Ind.-based Blue & Co. (FY18 net revenue of $83.2 million).

The deal was completed Dec. 1. The combined firm will operate as Blue & Co., and Clarus partners Barry Adelman, Michael Stevenson and Matthew Kaufman, will join Blue & Co.

The combined staff of Blue & Co. and Clarus Partners will total more than 450 professionals in 11 offices across Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

“Expanding the Columbus, Ohio, office is a strategic initiative of the firm, and combining with Clarus will help us on the road to achieving that initiative. We believe the expertise and reputation of both firms complement one another and offer a friendly, client-first culture,” says Brad Shaw, managing director of Blue & Co.

Stevenson adds that he believes the combination will not only help expand the commercial market in the Columbus area, but also provide growth opportunities for the firm’s associates.

Clarus Partners was founded in 2007 and serves clients with a range of business services.

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Tate & Tryon Merges with RSM

Washington, D.C.-based Tate & Tryon PC (FY18 net revenue of $26.8 million) has entered into an agreement to merge with RSM US LLP (FY19 net revenue of $1.4 billion) on Jan. 1.

Tate & Tryon will focus on improving and increasing services to clients, who will have full access to RSM’s teams, resources, strong national and global brand and expanded services, including technology, management, financial, risk and transaction advisory capabilities.

RSM is the fifth largest audit, tax and consulting firm after the Big 4, according to INSIDE Public Accounting’s 2019 ranking of largest accounting firms in the nation. RSM has 11,000 people in more than 87 U.S. cities, four offices in Canada, and access to more than 41,000 people in 116 countries through the RSM International Network.

“As one of the first D.C.-based CPA firms to focus exclusively on serving the nonprofit industry, we have always aimed to be the best at helping our clients stay a step ahead to not only survive, but thrive, with strategic insights, services and technology solutions. As part of RSM, we can meet our clients’ needs even more comprehensively while providing the same exceptional service they expect and offering our people new opportunities for growth and development,” says Charles Tate co-founder and MP of Tate & Tryon.

“Tate & Tryon had several national and regional firms that wanted to enter into a deal with them,” said Allan Koltin, CEO, Koltin Consulting Group, Inc., who advised both firms on the combination. “While all firms were impressive, in the end, the leaders at Tate & Tryon were most impressed with RSM’s culture, leadership and the potential growth opportunities for their people. Both Tate & Tryon and RSM are already recognized as two of the preeminent firms serving nonprofit organizations in the Greater Washington, D.C. market, and this combination will make them an even stronger force in the marketplace.”

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Marcum-Skoda Minotti Merger Becomes Final

The merger of Cleveland-based Skoda Minotti (FY18 net revenue of $59.4 million) and New York-based Marcum (FY18 net revenue of $549.7 million) became official December 2.

Skoda Minotti adds 31 partners, more than 190 associates and four offices to Marcum’s Midwest and Florida regions. It is ranked No. 74 on the 2019 IPA 100 list of largest accounting firms in the U.S. and was named an IPA Best of the Best firm this year as well.

Skoda Minotti’s national practices in risk advisory, strategic marketing, transaction advisory and management consulting will expand Marcum’s services in those areas, Skoda Minotti announced. Marcum, the 15th largest accounting firm in the country, will be gaining additional experts in the real estate, construction, manufacturing and distribution, professional services and health care sectors.

“Like Marcum, Skoda Minotti has a long history of entrepreneurship, both in its commitment to being an integral contributor to its clients’ success and in evolving its own business model,” says Marcum CEO and chairman Jeffrey Weiner. “Skoda Minotti brings a deep bench of talent and experience to Marcum and will be an intrinsic part of our continued growth and success.”

Gregory Skoda, who co-founded Skoda Minotti, has been admitted as a senior partner and joins the firm’s executive committee. “The synergies between our firms provide a strong foundation for our continued mutual success and growth,” he says.

The Marcum Group companies include Marcum, Marcum Technology, Marcum Search, Marcum Staffing, Marcum Financial Services, Marcum Wealth Management, Marcum Bernstein & Pinchuk and Marcum RBK Ireland

Marcum’s new Akron, Ohio, office will be led by Christopher Sivak and the Tampa, Fla., office will be led by Daniel Dowell. Danielle Gisondo will lead the firm’s Mayfield Village, Ohio, office and Jonathan J. Shoop will lead the new downtown Cleveland office when it opens in January 2020. Skoda Minotti’s Patrick Carney will become COO of Marcum’s Midwest region.

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SRG to Merge With Squar Milner in December

SRG, with offices in Woodland Hills, Calif., and Los Angeles, is merging into Irvine, Calif.-based Squar Milner LLP (FY18 net revenue of $98.2 million).

Squar Milner says SRG will contribute about $11 million of revenue and nearly 55 professionals to Squar Milner’s staff of about 550. The merger is effective Dec. 1.

The combined firm will operate as Squar Milner with the additional SRG office in Woodland Hills. The newly combined offices will result in over 200 professionals representing Squar Milner in the Los Angeles region.

The Woodland Hills office will be the second San Fernando Valley location for Squar Milner, as well as the third in Los Angeles.

MP Steve Milner says, “We will continue to work to become one of the preeminent and largest firms based in California and Los Angeles. Last year, we were very pleased to expand our Bay Area presence by having two firms join our already robust practice there. This year our focus has been in LA.”

Drew Grey, co-MP of SRG, says, “The Squar Milner combination will give our people expanded opportunities to grow as well as provide our clients innovative and specialized resources and services.” Tina Lazaroff, also co-MP adds, “Working together, we’ll be able to offer our clients an expanded knowledge base and additional resources to help them grow and manage their businesses.”

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Whitley Penn Acquires Dallas-Based Firm

Speer & Associates Ltd. of Dallas joined Fort Worth, Texas-based Whitley Penn (FY18 net revenue of $114.1 million) on Nov. 1. The group will work out of the Plano, Texas, location.

“This is a great opportunity to offer our clients additional services and industry experience locally, nationally and internationally,” says M.L. Speer, MP of Speer & Associates.

The Speer & Associates team of professionals are known for their full-service tax planning and consulting experience with a strong concentration in the real estate industry.

“M.L. and his team bring added tax and consulting experience to our firm. They share the same value of relationships being the foundation and we look forward to this next chapter together,” says Larry Autrey, MP for Whitley Penn.

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Armanino Creates Game-Changing Technology To Deliver Real-Time Attestation Service

San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino (FY18 net revenue of $267.2 million) has created the world’s first application of real-time attest.

Using blockchain technology, Armanino created TrustExplorer 2.0, which reduces attestation reporting from 30 days to 30 seconds and is the first step to developing real-time audit.

“For years, thought leaders have predicted the future arrival of real-time auditing capabilities, and now Armanino has accomplished the world’s first business application of this theorized innovation,” says CEO Matt Armanino. “This breakthrough is a catalyst that will lead to the widespread development and adoption of real-time auditing, and offers a transformational improvement over the current audit practices.”

Armanino tells IPA that TrustExplorer is an example of what the profession should be doing to take advantage of disruptive technologies. “This is an incredible opportunity to change ourselves,” he says. “Embrace it with a sense of fearlessness.”

The TrustExplorer 2.0 tool will allow users to download a report, backed by the firm’s opinion and in compliance with attest examination standards. The innovation solves some of the biggest issues with reporting as it exists now: reports are historical and stale by the time they are issued, they are not widely available and methods of collecting data are time-consuming.

The first license to Armanino’s TrustExplorer platform was granted to TrustToken, the world’s fourth largest stablecoin issuer. TrustExplorer supports public blockchain nodes to obtain audit evidence for the TrueUSD stablecoin.

“TrustExplorer 2.0 serves as our roadmap for how to take immutable tamper-resistant systems like blockchains, and harness them to provide attestation opinions both in real-time and with accuracy that cannot be contaminated by human error,” says Andries Verschelden, partner and blockchain practice leader at Armanino. “This is a clear-cut example of how blockchain technology is already changing business processes to optimize accuracy, security and speed.”

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Association Affiliation Among the 2019 IPA 400 Firms

INSIDE Public Accounting thanks the member firms from 37 international accounting associations that have participated in our annual survey. Their data helps provide a clear picture of the state of the profession today. A special thank you goes to the following associations that partner with IPA to survey their members: CPAmerica, DFK, INPACT, LEA, Moore NA, PKF North America and PrimeGlobal. We are grateful for your support.

AssociationIPA 100IPA 200IPA 300IPA 400
Abacus Worldwide
AGN International
Allinial Global
Alliott Group
Andersen Global
Baker Tilly International
BDO Alliance USA
BKR International
CPA Associates International
CPAmerica International
Crowe Horwath International
DFK International
Enterprise Worldwide
Geneva Group International
Grant Thornton International
HLB International
IAPA International
Integra International
Kreston International
LEA Global
Mazars Group
MGI International
Moore NA
Morison KSi
MSI Global Alliance
Nexia International
PKF International
RSM US Alliance
Russell Bedford
UHY International
No Association Affiliation

Co-Founder of WithumSmith+Brown Passes at Age 84

(L-R) Withum Co-Founders Len Smith, the late Fred Withum & Ivan Brown

Fred Withum, 84, who co-founded Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown (FY19 net revenue of $223.3 million), has died, the firm announced.

Withum, considered a visionary within the profession, co-founded the firm in 1974 and retired in 1987. Withum was instrumental in shaping the firm’s three core pillars for commitment: clients, people and communities. Under his leadership, the firm held first-of-their-kind planning meetings and partner retreats in the 1970s to chart the firm’s future course.

“From our early years as a firm, Fred was instrumental in instilling in us the importance of client service, integrity, growth and community service,” says Len Smith, who co-founded the firm with Withum as well as Ivan Brown and Doug Sonier. “These principles have stayed with us for over 40 years and have become the foundation for the Withum Way. Fred was a big believer in planning, and often reminded us of a quote from Lewis Carroll, ‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.’”

Sonier adds, “Fred was a true entrepreneur who encouraged and supported each of us in expanding the firm’s footprint and services. The confidence he instilled and demonstrated – combined with measured risk-taking – were key components that contributed to the growth and success of the firm.”

Today, Withum is ranked No. 25 on the 2019 IPA 100 listing of the largest accounting firms in the country. Withum, with 15 offices, is an independent member of HLB, the global advisory and accounting network.

At a time when most firms did not acknowledge the importance of community involvement and work-life balance, Withum was a champion, the firm says.

“He encouraged us to join and actively participate in charitable and professional organizations. In addition, he advocated for providing pro-bono and reduced-fee services to not-for-profits, many with June 30 FYE, which was a win-win proposition,” Brown says. “A strong proponent of family involvement, Fred also encouraged us to carve out time to watch and participate – via coaching and similar activities – in our children’s lives.”

Withum also championed peer reviews. In 1977, Withum became one of the first non-national accounting firms to voluntarily participate in the AICPA peer review program that evaluates firm processes and procedures. Since then, Withum has successfully passed all 13 peer reviews conducted.

According to MP and CEO Bill Hagaman, this feat underscores one of Withum’s well-known quotes: “Our services are for sale. Our integrity is not.” Hagaman adds, “This truism still applies, as Withum team members continue to hold up the highest levels of values and ethics and expect the same from those with whom they work.”

Memorial contributions can be made in Withum’s honor to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, P.O. Box 1281, Quechee, VT 05059.

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BDO Makes Inroads in Seattle Area with Peterson Sullivan Merger

Chicago-based BDO USA (FY19 net revenue of $1.64 billion) is acquiring Peterson Sullivan of Seattle, marking further expansion into the Pacific Northwest with 175 staff, including partners. The deal should be complete Nov. 1.

Wayne Berson, CEO of BDO USA, says the addition is part of the targeted growth strategy of the firm, which is ranked No. 7 on the 2019 IPA 100 list. “Peterson Sullivan and BDO share common values – believing strongly that an exceptional culture with exceptional people results in an exceptional client experience.”

Chris Russell

Peterson Sullivan (FY18 net revenue of $31.9 million), founded in 1953, serves clients in a variety of industries, including auto dealerships, construction, hospitality and consumer products, life sciences, manufacturing, nonprofit, professional services, real estate and technology.

“Peterson Sullivan has built our reputation over the last 65 years by providing exceptional client service and developing deep connections within the community,” says MP Chris Russell. “In joining BDO, our clients will continue to receive the personalized and responsive attention they have come to expect, now with enhanced access to more specialized services, broader industry expertise, and BDO’s extensive global network.”

Russell will continue his focus on the region’s business and civic communities as the market MP for BDO in Seattle. Michael Reeves and Bob Filip will continue in their respective roles as BDO’s assurance and tax managing partners for the combined Seattle practice.

“BDO has fueled its tremendous growth by combining with entrepreneurial and successful CPA firms that not only complement their service offerings and culture, but add value for their clients,” says Allan Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group, who advised both firms on the combination. “Peterson Sullivan garnered interest from many national and mega-regional firms. Ultimately, they felt BDO provided their partners and associates with a great playbook and platform to expand services to their clients.”

BDO plans to consolidate its offices into the current Peterson Sullivan location. In the interim, the firm will maintain two offices.

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KPMG UK to Cut Hundreds of Administrative Staff

Big 4 firm KPMG plans to cut costs in the U.K. by eliminating about a third of its 630 administrative assistants, the Financial Times reported.

“We are not taking these steps lightly, but we believe the proposed structure will enable us to deliver the best possible experience for our clients,” a KMPG spokesperson said. “We are now in the process of consulting with affected staff on the plans.” She added the restructuring was part of an 18-month plan to invest in the firm’s audit business and change its governance structure.

The newspaper says personal assistants are looking for work, and partners are beginning to file their own expenses. As part of the restructuring, KPMG will reportedly create 24 new support roles in Birmingham, England.

The Financial Times says KPMG has been battling to restore its reputation after its audit work for collapsed outsourcer Carillion has come under fire.

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