BKR International Names Raymi Mejia New Americas Regional Board Chair

Raymi Mejia

Raymi Mejia

BKR International has appointed Raymi Mejia, partner at Mejia Lora & Asociados (MLA) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as chair of the Americas regional board.

Mejia has served as a board member for BKR’s Americas Region since 2012 and, most recently, as the board’s vice chair. He has been instrumental as a liaison with Latin American and Caribbean member firms for the association. He will also represent the Americas region on BKR’s worldwide board.

Mejia has more than 25 years of experience in audit and tax. He has served as an advisor in the negotiations of transfer pricing agreements between the National Association of Hotels and Restaurants and the General Directorate of Internal Taxes. He has vast experience in the hospitality sector, participating in audit and tax advice to the main international hotel chains with locations in the Dominican Republic.

“As we focus on the firm of the future, it is vital that our Americas regional board sustains leadership from both emerging and developed economies to best represent the global market,” notes A.J. Johnson, BKR’s Americas regional executive director. “

BKR International has also appointed Kenneth B. Laks to the Americas regional board for three, two-year terms. Laks is a partner at Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Albrecht Viggiano Zureck & Co. (AVZ). AVZ has been a member of BKR International since 1986. Laks is a frequent presenter at BKR member conferences around the world on issues regarding international taxation. He serves as chair of BKR’s worldwide international tax committee and is also a member of its Americas regional international tax committee.

Karen Brenneman, MP at Hall Kistler & Company of Canton, Ohio, and ex-officio chair of BKR’s Americas region will remain a member of BKR’s worldwide board.

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Kaufman Rossin Launches Kaufman Rossin Wealth

Jay Pelham

Miami-based Kaufman Rossin (FY19 net revenue of $77.8 million) has launched Kaufman Rossin Wealth, providing financial planning and investment management services.

The new group will be led by Jay Pelham, who joined the firm last year. Pelham has held numerous leadership roles at some of South Florida’s most established financial institutions, including president of TotalBank.

Over the past several years, Kaufman Rossin has grown and diversified its advisory and consulting business, bringing in experts on specific industries and services including banking, cyber-security and business performance to respond to client needs. Kaufman Rossin Wealth is no different.

“We have deep, long-standing relationships with our clients and a unique understanding of their personal and professional challenges. This new service line is another way of connecting the dots in their lives and figuring out the best way to help them reach their goals,” says Kaufman Rossin CEO Blain Heckaman. “With Jay’s leadership we know we can deliver intelligent financial planning by listening, having candid conversations and offering smart solutions.”

Kaufman Rossin Wealth will offer its services as a registered investment advisor. Affiliate Kaufman Rossin Insurance Services will help mitigate risks through insurance solutions.

“Having spent the last 30 years in financial services and learning more about Kaufman Rossin’s clients and business strategies this past year, I feel very strongly there’s an underserved financial bracket that will benefit tremendously by having a roadmap to follow,” Pelham says.

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CBIZ Acquires Ohio Payroll Service Company

Cleveland-based CBIZ (FY18 net revenue of $785 million) has acquired Paytime of Solon, Ohio, a payroll service provider with 37 employees and about $4 million in revenue.

CBIZ president and CEO Jerry Grisko says, “We are pleased to have Paytime join the CBIZ family and strengthen our human capital management offerings. Paytime’s strong Ohio presence aligns well with our current locations in Cleveland, Akron and Columbus, and their services will complement the other professional services we currently provide to our clients.”

Mary Ann Shamis of Paytime, says, “The fact that both companies use the same platforms will ensure a seamless transition for our employees and clients.”

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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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Sikich Report: Half of Manufacturers Experienced Data Breaches In Past Year

Naperville, Ill.-based Sikich (FY18 net revenue of $168.7 million), in a recent survey, finds that half of manufacturing companies have fallen victim to at least one data breach during the past 12 months, according to the firm’s 2019 Manufacturing and Distribution Report.

Of the 50% of respondents who said their companies experienced data breaches, 11% said they had experienced “major” breaches. Still, executives believe their companies can thwart attacks. A majority (54%) said they are “extremely” or “very” confident in the ability of their companies to prevent or minimize the impact of data breaches.

“Cybercriminals have moved on from focusing primarily on organizations rich in sensitive personal data, such as financial or health care institutions,” says Brad Lutgen, PIC of the firm’s cybersecurity practice. “Instead, they target any organization with IT weaknesses and attempt to turn a profit through ransomware and other cyberextortion techniques. In response to this growing threat, manufacturing executives must make security a core corporate priority and push forward the implementation of preventative measures in their organizations.”

The report found that many manufacturers – especially those with revenues under $500 million – neglect key cybersecurity preparedness efforts. Overall, less than 40% of these smaller companies perform cyber audits (38%), penetration testing (33%), security assessments of vendors (32%) and phishing exercises on employees (31%).

Other findings:  

  • Though a majority of respondents have automated in some way production processes and machining, assembly and packaging, only about a third said they have “extensively” automated these areas.
  • Manufacturers are bullish, but still preparing, for an economic downturn. Only 27% of the executives surveyed believe it is “extremely” or “very likely” that the U.S. economy will enter a recession in the next 12 months. However, that number rises to 49% among companies with $500 million or more in annual revenues. Overall, 63% of respondents are preparing for the possibility of a recession.
  • Manufacturers are mixed on how the expansion of e-commerce has benefited or hurt their operations. Nearly half (49%) of the companies surveyed said they use e-commerce to sell their products. Of these, 39% said sales from e-commerce have exceeded their expectations, while 37% said sales have been disappointing.
  • When asked to identify obstacles to innovation, 53% of respondents cited “finding and retaining the talent needed” as “extremely” or “very” challenging.

Click here to download Sikich’s 2019 Manufacturing and Distribution Report.

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AICPA, CPA Practice Advisor Announce 2019 Most Powerful Women

The American Institute of CPAs and CPA Practice Advisor have recognized 25 leaders in the accounting profession with the 2019 Most Powerful Women in Accounting Award.

These women represent a broad spectrum of roles and perspectives within the profession, including executives from Top 100 CPA firms and Fortune 500 companies, small to midsize firm partners, state society leaders and consultants. In addition, members of CPA Canada were eligible for recognition for the first time.

The awards were created by CPA Practice Advisor and are jointly administered by the AICPA. The recognition came during the AICPA ENGAGE conference in Las Vegas June 12.

“This recognition of women leaders in the accounting profession shines a bright light on the role models and the inspiration needed by women finding their way in the profession and those who are considering accounting as a career,” says editor-in-chief Gail Perry.

A group of independent judges selected the award recipients, using the following criteria:

  • Demonstrates she is a driving force in creating a culture of innovation or excellence within her organization or helped, as a vendor, to develop technologies that empower firms to be more productive and profitable
  • Reached a level of management and ownership within her company, with demonstrable impact on its success
  • Actively mentors those following in her footsteps

“We received substantially more nominations in 2019 than a year ago and it was a strong group of women,” says Jacquelyn H. Tracy, chair of the AICPA Women’s Initiatives Committee (WIEC). “Asking our judges to choose among a fabulous nominee pool is a good problem to have as we start to see more women leaders rising in our profession.”

The 2019 winners are:

  • Tommye Barie, senior consulting shareholder, Succession Institute, LLC
  • Samantha Bowling, partner with Garbelman Winslow, CPAs
  • Danielle Supkis Cheek, director of entrepreneurial advisory services, PKF Texas
  • Susan Coffey, executive vice president of public practice, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
  • Lynne Doughtie, U.S. chairman and CEO, KPMG
  • Sarah Elliott, principal and co-founder, Intend2Lead, LLC
  • Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, global strategy leader for the cloud business group, Oracle
  • Cathy Engelbert, retired CEO of Deloitte US and incoming commissioner of WNBA
  • Tracey Golden, AICPA vice chair and an audit partner with Deloitte
  • Kelly Grier, U.S. chairman and managing partner and Americas managing partner, EY
  • Kacee Johnson, strategic advisor, CPA.com, and founder, Blue Ocean Principles
  • Elizabeth Pittelkow Kittner, controller, Litera Microsystems
  • Samantha Mansfield, director of professional development and community, CPA.com
  • Gail Perry, editor-in-chief, CPA Practice Advisor
  • Amy Pitter, president and CEO, Massachusetts Society of CPAs
  • Natasha Schamberger, president and CEO, Kansas Society of CPAs
  • Lindsay Stevenson, founder and CEO, Origin Evolution, LLC
  • Joy Thomas, president and CEO, CPA Canada
  • Michelle Loyd Thompson, CEO and firm managing partner, Cherry Bekaert LLP
  • Jacquelyn Tracy, partner, Mandel & Tracy, LLC
  • Amy Vetter, creator, The B3 Method Institute
  • Jennifer Warawa, executive vice president of partners, accountants and alliances, Sage
  • Sandra Wiley, president, Boomer Consulting, Inc.
  • Jennifer Wilson, co-founder and partner, ConvergenceCoaching, LLC
  • Candace Wright, director, accounting and assurance services group, Postlethwaite & Netterville

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Using Stolen PCAOB Data to Cost KPMG $50 Million

Big 4 accounting firm KPMG LLP will pay $50 million to settle SEC allegations that it altered past audit work after receiving stolen information from the PCAOB, which the SEC oversees, Bloomberg reported.

According to a June 17 statement, KMPG admitted wrongdoing and agreed to hire an independent consultant to review its internal controls. “KPMG’s ethical failures are simply unacceptable,” SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in the statement. “The resolution the enforcement division has reached holds KPMG accountable for its past failures and provides for continuing, heightened oversight to protect our markets and our investors.”

The fine stems from what was called a “steal the exam” scheme, from 2015 to 2017, in which KPMG professionals and former PCAOB employees worked together to help the firm, which had suffered a high rate of deficiencies. In the end, six KPMG professionals were dismissed after an investigation found they tried to obtain confidential information that would reveal which audits the PCAOB planned to review in its annual inspections. “With the data, the former employees oversaw a program to revise certain audits to reduce the likelihood government inspectors would find shortfalls,” Bloomberg reported.

The investigation resulted in January 2018 criminal charges against three former PCAOB officials, who went on to work for KPMG, of stealing information tied to PCAOB exams.

In an email statement, a company spokesperson said KPMG has learned important lessons and is a stronger firm because of steps taken to improve its culture, governance and compliance program. The SEC says its probe is continuing.

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Shier Named AAM’s 2019 Marketer of the Year

Holly Shier

Holly Shier

Holly Shier, principal and chief marketing officer at Troy, Mich.-based Rehmann, has received the Association for Accounting Marketing’s (AAM) 2019 Marketer of the Year award, sponsored by INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA).

The winner was announced by IPA June 12 at AAM’s annual Summit, held in partnership with the AICPA ENGAGE conference in Las Vegas.

Shier leads marketing and communications efforts, brand awareness and growth strategies for Rehmann, which was ranked No. 41 on the 2018 IPA 100 list of largest accounting firms in the country. Shier is responsible for a $1.7 million marketing budget and supervises a staff of nearly 20 individuals.

Shier has led a transformation of Rehmann’s marketing approach and ensured integration of its “OneRehmann” service model. The firm’s service model deploys cross-functional teams to address a broad range of issues clients face, rather than promoting individual services.

“Holly instills a natural desire to help our clients be successful by bringing our OneRehmann service model to bear, ensuring we are consistently communicating our transformative solutions,” says CEO Randy Rupp, who nominated Shier for the prestigious award.

Rupp credits her with the “colossal effort” of researching and articulating the needs of clients and creating go-to-market strategies for the firm’s various niches. 

Additionally, Shier analyzed data from client surveys, panels and focus groups to create the firm’s latest advertising campaign, Rupp says. Through the data, a story emerged that clients weren’t particularly interested in services, per se, but in resolving issues surrounding business growth, transitioning to retirement and managing their money afterward. “Holly had the foresight to dig into the emotion behind these critical moments to understand what spurred the need for our services.”

“The marketing industry is tremendously dynamic,” said Shier. “There are constant changes and trends to be aware of because the dial is always moving. To be recognized as Marketer of the Year is a true honor. Accolades like this highlight the hard work, dedication and support of my team and it’s a great feeling to be noticed in such a competitive industry.”

Shier, referred to as the firm’s “dot-connector,” has restructured the marketing team, created a formalized business combination process and obtained naming rights to the Rehmann Club in the Little Caesars Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons.

In addition to her work developing the firm’s strategic vision and serving on numerous firm committees, Shier is heavily involved in the Detroit chapter of the American Marketing Association. She served as president from 2018-2019 and volunteers for DECA, a nonprofit organization that prepares students for careers in finance and marketing, among others.

This is the sixth year that IPA has sponsored the Marketer of the Year award. A panel of independent judges, themselves leaders in the profession, were selected by IPA to review and score each of the 2019 nominees.

AICPA to Oversee New Internet Domain for CPAs

The AICPA is in the process of being awarded the .cpa domain and is currently in a contract execution phase with the Internet’s global governing body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The AICPA’s role in administering .cpa will provide a defined global domain for CPAs worldwide to connect with their clients with increased trust, security and verification.

“By overseeing the .cpa domain in collaboration with other global CPA organizations, the AICPA can help promote CPAs’ visibility and protect their professional standing online,” says Barry Melancon, the president and CEO of the AICPA. “We also want the public to have confidence that someone using a .cpa domain address for email or a website is affiliated with the CPA profession.”

The new domain extension will be available to CPAs and their firms and will signal a clear connection to the profession. For example, Firm Name, LLC, could have a website address of www.firmname.cpa. Jane Smith, an employee at that firm, could have an email address of jsmith@firmname.cpa.

“Today, there’s a lack of authentication and growing mistrust of online information,” says Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com, the AICPA’s technology subsidiary. “This is why many leading companies and communities, such as Amazon, KPMG, and the banking industry are moving to restricted top-level domains. We’re looking forward to bringing this important new capability to the profession.”

More details on registering a domain name will be available later this year. For additional information and the opportunity to sign up for notifications, please visit https://domains.cpa.com