Eide Bailly Merges in HMWC

Fargo, N.D.-based Eide Bailly (FY19 net revenue of $341.7 million) has merged in Tustin, Calif.-based HMWC CPAs & Business Advisors (FY19 net revenue of $17.9 million).

The deal, effective May 18, will add 13 partners and 80 staff to Eide Bailly and a new office in Orange County, Calif., in addition to the 10 it already operates in the state.

“The addition of HMWC enhances our California team with a strong commitment to client service, talented staff and a culture that matches our own dedication to being a firm of choice for clients and staff,” says MP and CEO Dave Stende.

HMWC , founded 52 years ago, specializes in medical, dental, construction and real estate clients.

“Joining forces with Eide Bailly will help us serve our clients even better by allowing us to offer additional resources and services to our clients that will help them achieve their goals,” says MP Steve Williams. “We will be able to enhance our ability to serve our clients with additional expertise and talent in areas such as technology consulting, specialized tax services and more that will help them succeed in today’s business environment.”

He adds that staff will also benefit with opportunities for learning and professional growth “to pursue their passions, which in turn will enrich our clients’ experiences.”

Koltin Consulting Group and Gary Shamis of Winding River Consulting advised both two firms.

“HMWC had opportunities with many regional and national firms, but the culture match with Eide Bailly, as well as the leadership and growth opportunities for both clients and their people, made this a great match between two high-performing and well-respected firms,” says Allan Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group.

Eide Bailly will have more than 350 partners and 2,500 staff after the merger takes effect.

More news from Eide Bailly and HMWC.

Bland & Associates Lobbies for Law Change to Become First ESOP Firm in Nebraska

It took more than two years of lobbying Nebraska lawmakers and the Board of Accountancy, but Bland & Associates is now the first employee-owned CPA firm in the state.

Bland & Associates of Omaha, Neb., (FY18 net revenue of $14.2 million) is 100% employee-owned through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and it is one of only a handful of ESOP CPA firms in the country, the firm announced today.

The partner group decided to transition ownership to all the employees in part as a reward for making Bland one of the fastest-growing firms in the country. INSIDE Public Accounting named Bland a 2018 Top 10 Fastest-Growing Firm with a 37.6% year-over-year increase in net revenue. IPA also named Bland a 2019 Excellence in Firm Culture award winner.

“This is not how you transition a CPA firm in the traditional sense, but Bland isn’t a typical CPA firm. We realized that it fit our culture and goals perfectly,” says MP Jeremy Vokt. Vokt and partners Jason Tonjes and Troy McKinney are majority shareholders. “Jason, Troy and I are not going nowhere and are actually re-energized to grow our firm even more than the last 10 years,” Vokt says.

To become an ESOP in Nebraska, Bland had to pursue a change in state law with the assistance of a former CPA, Nebraska Sen. John Stinner, who introduced a bill to allow the ownership of public accounting firms by ESOP. Under the bill, non-CPAs are not allowed to exceed 49% of total equity interest. The bill became law last year. The firm also worked with Bankers Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, which specializes in ESOP-owned businesses.

Employees are starting to learn about the value and structure of the ESOP, and initial response is positive, the firm says.

“One of my goals has already been met, to become a shareholder,” says DeVon Billups, who has worked at Bland since he was a 17-year-old intern. “Now I am a full-time employee with responsibilities, client relationships and many more things that I never would have imagined for myself. This gives me one more reason to stay with the company, and it feels great.”

Same-Old Professional Development Costing Firms In Talent War, Succession Progress

One of the ongoing challenges firms face is bringing in the right people with the right skills and keeping them engaged, rewarded and prepared to become partner. At the same time, firms need to ramp up technology – and fast – bringing even greater urgency to planning for the future.

Firms are taking various approaches. Some are hiring outside technology experts; some are merging in smaller tech, cybersecurity or consulting firms and some are stealing partners from other firms or seeking out free agents. The biggest firms have the resources to do all of these things while making sizable investments in up-and-coming technologies, but they are the exception not the rule.

Some observers fear the profession is too slow and too reliant on outside experts to shake up professional development. The result could be firms without the necessary next-generation skills and future partners.

Technology transformation is a huge challenge, says consultant Kris McMasters, formerly the co-CEO of CliftonLarsonAllen. While many firms are focusing on technology tools, and hiring tech talent into the firm, it’s critical that firms create a thoughtful strategy around upscaling the skills of the existing professionals. And that means more than improving technology skills, but analytical thinking and creativity as well. Lower-level tasks will be transformed by automation, she says, and the accounting firms of tomorrow will look far different than those of today.

The Choice: Buy Versus Build: Dom Esposito, who consults with small and mid-size CPA firms, says the No. 1 shortcoming of these firms is buying the next generation of partners instead of building them from within. Because some firms are only paying lip service to professional development, they look for lateral hires to fill the gaps.

For example, a firm may hire a professional with 10 or 12 years of experience in technology with the intention of making that person an important part of the firm’s growth as a partner. “Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t,” says Esposito, CEO of Esposito CEO2CEO LLC. “Often it doesn’t.”

Lateral hires are necessary sometimes, but they’re also risky. Do these hires come from a firm with a similar culture, work ethic and workload? Was the same level of quality expected? Ambitious professionals can view a lateral hire as “cutting in line” and taking a partner position that could have been theirs. Esposito says that in his experience, laterals often don’t make the impact anticipated, exit after a short time and leave the firm with morale problems, disruption, dissatisfied clients and an expensive lesson learned.

Small and mid-sized firms often fail to take care of their own, he says. “They don’t spend enough time developing that talent into a real client executive. They let them linger and pump out work every day but they’re not looking beyond the immediate benefits,” says Esposito. Slow and steady wins the race, and rigorous leadership development academies smooth out professionals’ weaknesses, strengthen their confidence, increase their ability to sell and create lasting business relationships, he says.

Finding the Right Fit: It’s not easy to find the right kind of professional development program, but Chuck Mullen says you start by asking for help rather than trying to figure it out on your own. “I think firms get pretty stale year after year conducting training the same way. It can very much become a pattern. All you have to do is listen to your staff and they’ll tell you if it’s any good or not.”

Mullen is chairman of Akron, Ohio-based Apple Growth Partners. He went through an MP boot camp about a year after taking the top spot at the firm. The experience taught him how to be innovative, how to think in the long term and how to question the status quo when it comes to training.

Director of Operations Erin McCafferty says that in 2019 and 2020 Apple Growth Partners will undergo a full assessment of the professional development offered now and where it should go in the future.

In the meantime, the firm has made a significant investment in the concept of intentional coaching, which takes the whole person into account and is championed by Erica Ishida, the new CEO of LEA Global. “If you focus solely on someone’s career and their performance, you never get to true growth and development,” she said in a recent podcast.

McCafferty says the firm works with three coaches, all with different styles, who work with firm professionals confidentially on professional or personal issues. It’s not counseling, it’s coaching, and the guidance helps professionals sort out where they stand on that blurry line between professional and personal.

“If people can bring their best self to work every day and work through challenges at home or at the office, it’ll make all the difference,” Mullen says. “Even a little improvement will have a ripple effect.”

What’s Our Purpose? Why Do I Work Here? Ishida says intentional development is a new way to think about coaching in the profession, and she is receiving inquiries from multiple firms on the topic. To start, each professional needs a sense of purpose, or a good answer to the question, “Why do I work here?” Organizations that operate at their best communicate a clear intention of purpose and make sure they have the culture and strategy to support it.

“Lots of CEOs think they have that,” Ishida says. “They have it in their heads, but if you ask people in the halls, they can’t answer. They have no idea.” Going through a holistic coaching process helps professionals define their core values and prioritize their activities.

A clear purpose, strong culture, an openness to new ideas and a forward-looking approach to professional development are some of the elements that keep professionals involved and interested in advancement.

Mullen recognizes that technology will be a bigger part of the firm’s future. “I just don’t think it’s going to be as fast and drastic a change as some of the fear mongers say it’s going to be.” A CIO was brought in about four months ago, and together with the IT director and a technology committee, the firm is evaluating what types of artificial intelligence and data analytics would make the best investments. Meanwhile, the firm is hiring the most tech-savvy professionals it can find.

Mullen says many firms have it backwards. Rather than focus internally, their “grow, grow, grow” mentality can result in a disgruntled workforce and a loss of clients who sense professionals don’t want to work there. Recruitment and retention are easy if you create a top-notch workplace, or a “workers’ paradise,” as Mullen puts it.

“This is an inside job. I’m not looking at the market all the time. I’m looking inside.”

Hancock Askew & Co. Announces the Formation of Clarity Capital Advisors

Savannah, Ga.-based Hancock Askew & Co. (FY18 net revenue of $15.7 million) has launched a wholly-owned subsidiary, Clarity Capital Advisors, which offers small and medium-size businesses advice on mergers and acquisitions, general corporate finance and other issues.

Hancock Askew MP Michael McCarthy says, “At Hancock Askew, we are keenly aware of the shift in the accounting industry to provide more than just traditional compliance services to clients. Through the addition of Clarity Capital Advisors and the experience of the team leading the new firm, we continue to be at the forefront of expanding our service offerings and increasing our footprint in the marketplace.” 

Clarity Capital Advisors assists clients with determining appropriate sources of debt and equity capital. Additionally, it provides financial advisory services for management buyouts, recaps and for a strategic alternative review analysis.

Clarity Capital Advisors is led by Steve Keaveney and John Stanier. Mary Roberts, managing director of Hancock Askew’s transaction and business valuation practice, will also provide leadership support.

Stanier says, “I am excited to help launch Clarity. Steve and I have been successful in building value for shareholders through a number of creative capital markets transactions beginning with our first venture together in 1994.” Clients range from an early-stage business with break-even operations to $5 million plus of EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization). Typical enterprise values ranging from $10 million to $150 million, Keaveney says.

Hancock Askew has offices in Georgia and Florida and a staff of over 150 professionals. The firm is an independent member of the BDO Alliance USA.

More news from Hancock Askew & Co.

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.

Leadership Team Expands at Wegner CPAs

Jason Stephens

Jason Stephens

Madison, Wis.-based Wegner CPAs (FY18 net revenue of $18.6 million) has admitted Jason Stephens as a partner in the assurance department.

“Wegner CPAs is invested in the growth and development of our talented team members. Jason has proven to be a true leader in all aspects and has been a key contributor to our success throughout the years,” states MP Glenn Miller.

Stephens helps clients find and implement operational improvements, while remaining compliant to the special regulations for commercial and tax-exempt organizations that receive state and federal funding.

More news from Wegner CPAs

KerberRose Admits Six Professionals to Partnership

Shawano, Wis.-based KerberRose (FY18 net revenue of $17.6 million) admitted six new partners on Jan. 1.

New partners are:

  • Krisztina Dommer, governmental accounting and auditing, Shawano, Wis.
  • Mary Horton, small business and individual tax and accounting, Sister Bay, Wis.
  • Melissa Olsen, human resources, Shawano, Wis.
  • Greg Pitel, state and local government auditing, Shawano, Wis.
  • Anthony Powers, wealth management, Shawano, Wis.
  • Mike Stratman, tax and business advising, Green Bay, Wis.

The 2020 IPA Accounting Firm National Benchmarking Surveys are Open for Participation

The 2020 INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) Annual Survey and Analysis of Firms is now open to all accounting firms in North America. The results of the annual survey are compiled in the IPA National Benchmarking Report. The data is also used to rank the IPA 100, 200, 300 and 400 firms, and the coveted IPA Best of the Best firms. If you would like to participate, please contact our office.

More than 550 accounting firms, ranging in size from $1 million to more than $1 billion in net revenue, participated in IPA’s 2019 Annual Survey and Analysis of Firms. All firms in the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to take part in one of the longest-running benchmarking surveys on accounting firm management.

Firms who would like to participate – at no cost – can contact IPA for details. Participating firms will receive an executive summary of the IPA National Benchmarking Report and will be eligible to be named a 2020 Best of the Best firm or an IPA Top 400 firm.


…May 2019 through December 2019: May 4, 2020

…January 2020 through March 2020: May 29, 2020

…April 2020: June 15, 2020

Note: IPA will not accept any submission after June 30, 2020.


In conjunction with the National Benchmarking survey, IPA has launched the Firm Administration, Human Resources and Information Technology surveys. These surveys dig deeper into the operations and best practices of participating accounting firms across the U.S.

Your firm must complete the IPA Benchmarking Survey and Analysis form in order to participate in any of the internal operational surveys (Firm Administration, Human Resources and Information Technology). If you would like to participate, contact our office.


If you fully participate in the survey, your firm will be included in one of the largest annual management of an accounting practice (MAP) survey in the country. You will:

  • Become eligible to be ranked among this year’s top firms in the IPA 100, IPA 200, IPA 300 and IPA 400.
  • Become eligible to be named an IPA Best of the Best firm.
  • Receive a complimentary copy of IPA’s August 2020 newsletter, which highlights the annual IPA 400 firm rankings, along with a detailed financial and operational analysis of the IPA 100 firms.
  • Receive complimentary imagery and press releases if your firm is named an IPA 400, a Best of the Best firm or a Fastest-Growing firm.
  • Receive an electronic complimentary copy of the 2020 Executive Summary of the IPA National Benchmarking Report. If you participate in any or all of the internal operational surveys, you will also receive a complimentary executive summary when published in the fall.
  • Receive preferred pricing on accolade reprints for marketing purposes.
  • Receive preferred pricing on the 2020 IPA National Benchmarking Report, the internal operational reports and other benchmarking tools.
  • Be given preference as a source for articles written by IPA throughout the year – an excellent opportunity to market your firm.
  • Gain a competitive advantage and grow your firm with industry insight from the independent benchmarking leader in the nation.


All confidential firm data, including salaries, compensation, income, etc., will be held in strict confidence and will NOT be shared or publicized in any of the final reporting. We take extreme pride in our ability to collect this data to assist the profession and are now celebrating nearly three decades of surveying accounting firms across the globe.

Please contact IPA at survey@plattgroupllc.com with any concerns or questions. IPA conducts a thorough review of each survey submission for omissions or errors and will reach out to the contact person named on the submitted survey form for any clarifications / updates. Some data, such as firm name, MP(s) name, firm net revenue and organic growth may appear in the IPA newsletter (if accolades are given).

McKinley Admitted as Partner at Draffin Tucker

Rebecca McKinley

Rebecca McKinley has been admitted as a partner at Albany, Ga.-based Draffin & Tucker LLP (FY18 net revenue of $13.8 million), The Albany Herald reported.

McKinley joined the firm in 2004. She serves as chair of its accounting and auditing committee and assists in the administration of the scheduling process.

“I love working for Draffin Tucker and serving our clients in the health care industry,” McKinley says in a statement. “I truly believe you will not find a better firm for workplace experience. Draffin Tucker has a tradition of committing to the success of its people and clients, and I want to continue to honor that as I take on this new role in our firm.”

The firm points out that she identified an opportunity to enhance Blue Cross reimbursement for Alabama hospitals that resulted in a cumulative reimbursement benefit exceeding $9 million for 18 hospitals.

“Rebecca has done extremely valuable work on four of our hospitals and found significant reimbursements for each of them,” says Monica Jordan of Infirmary Health System, the Herald reported. “Rebecca is very personable and committed to making sure her clients are pleased with the work product. In my 25 years in reimbursement, she is the best consultant I’ve worked with.”

TJS Deemer Dana Elects New Leadership

Kenneth Wood

Dublin, Ga.-based TJS Deemer Dana LLP (FY18 net revenue of $17.1 million) announces that the firm has a new MP and tax partner. 

Kenneth Wood has moved into the role of MP, succeeding MP Tracy Sharke, who calls Wood a passionate advocate for the firm. Wood has more than 28 years of experience in public accounting, focusing on attestation engagements including audits, reviews, compilations and agreed-upon procedures for clients of varying sizes and industries, as well as both private and public institutions of higher learning.  

“I am honored that my fellow partners have placed their trust in my leadership capabilities, and I look forward to leading this organization,” says Wood. 

Additionally, R. Chad Reese, who has been an instrumental member of the firm since 2011, was recently promoted from a tax director to the role of tax partner. He has significant experience in the areas of business consolidations, multi-state tax issues and advanced tax planning for businesses and individuals.   

The firm has been recognized as an INSIDE Public Accounting Top 300 Firm, and is a member of the RSM US LLP Alliance.