Congratulations to the 2018 All Growth Fastest-Growing Firms

Among the more than 550 U.S.-based firms that participated in this year’s IPA survey we find a handful that are the envy of their peers – the fastest-growing accounting firms in country, factoring in the effects of mergers and acquisitions. This year, IPA has identified the Top 10 Fastest-Growing Firms (All-Growth), which includes organic growth and growth in net income from mergers.

This year’s Fastest-Growing Firms experienced an impressive average all growth increase in net revenue of 45.2%.

The 2018 All Growth Fastest-Growing Firms

Hoffman Short Rubin DeWinter Sanderson / Covina, Calif. / 85.0%
Moss Krusick & Associates LLC / Winter Park, Fla. / 72.3%
Giambalvo Stalzer & Company CPAs / Great River, N.Y. / 45.0%
Squar Milner LLP / Newport Beach, Calif. / 40.0%
Bland & Associates PC / Omaha, Neb. / 37.6%
Wallace Plese + Dreher LLP / Chandler, Ariz. / 36.5%
Prager Metis CPAs LLC / New York / 35.8%
Tidwell Group LLC / Birmingham, Ala. / 34.6%
DMJ & Co. PLLC / Greensboro, N.C. / 32.6%
HMWC CPAs & Business Advisors / Tustin, Calif. / 32.5%

View the 2018 IPA 100, 200, 300 and 400 rankings.

Order your 2018 IPA Benchmarking Tools.

New Role, New Perspective: IPA Spotlight on … Mary Elliot

INSIDE Public Accounting has reached out to Warren Averett’s new CEO Mary Elliott, subject of an IPA Spotlight last year, to discuss the rise of advisory services, firm threats and challenges, and the future of the profession.

Name: Mary Elliott

Mary Elliott

Mary Elliott

Title: CEO

Firm: Birmingham, Ala.-based Warren Averett (FY17 net revenue of $133.3 million)


  • Became CEO in January 2018 as the first female CEO in Warren Averett’s history.
  • Worked her entire career at Warren Averett, serving clients in the firm’s health care consuling division for 33 years.
  • Appointed as Warren Averett’s Chief Operations Officer in 2012.
  • Developed operations board for the firm, and served as chair for six years.

Among the IPA 100, accounting and audit revenue is declining, and non-traditional services are on the rise. Which practice area is growing fastest at your firm and how do you plan to continue expanding this niche?

Warren Averett embraces a holistic view of client relationships, with the focus on WA360 – a client-centered approach to understanding and addressing client needs. With this focus, all areas of consulting are continuing to grow, especially in specific industries like health care and government contracting. We have sought to hire more specialists outside the accounting field in areas such as IT consulting, HR consulting, staffing services, M&A, and transaction advisory services. Simultaneously, we make it a priority to hire accountants to work in traditional roles, and then develop their strengths and passions to later transition into our niches and consulting roles.

What’s the biggest threat facing your firm today?

The accounting industry is facing a situation where you must be innovative and evolve with the market in order to grow and be successful. Our clients are becoming more complex and savvy, our competition is progressing, and technology is going to replace some of the compliance work that our firms are executing.

How do you intend to overcome threats the firm is facing?

Successful firms are the ones who will see these trends, and adjust their approach, technology and talent to meet these changes. Warren Averett focuses on innovation. Our communications and programs within the firm encourage and reward team members who show an entrepreneurial mindset when working with a client, improving a process or developing an out-of-the-box solution or service.

How do you envision CPA firm services evolving over the next 10 years?

As technology evolves with the introduction of blockchain, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation, the entire business ecosystem will change. Technology will provide us with nontraditional ways to serve our clients, and that is always the goal – to focus on the client and put them at the center of everything we do. With clients having more accessibility to their data, we believe that our focus will evolve into interpreting the data, solving problems and creating solutions to help clients succeed.

Do you know someone else who would make a good Spotlight? Contact Christina Camara.

IPA INSIDER: October 2018 News

Listed below are the Top 10 most-read stories on the INSIDE Public Accounting blog for the month of October.

  1. INSIDE Public Accounting Unveils 2018 Best of the Best Accounting Firms
  2. Congratulations to the 2018 IPA 200 and 300 Firms
  3. INSIDE Public Accounting Reveals The Nation’s Largest 400 Accounting Firms
  4. Just Announced: The 2018 IPA 100
  5. LEA Global Hires Ishida as First CEO
  6. MRZ Merger with Baker Tilly To Give Firm Foothold in Houston
  7. Founder of Herbein + Company Passes Away
  8. Richey May Acquires Two IT Consulting Firms
  9. Mauldin & Jenkins Names New MP, Admits New Partners
  10. Janover LLC Launches Cannabis Industry Practice Group

INSIDE Public Accounting Unveils The 2018 Pyramid Awards

INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) announced that three 2018 Best of the Best Accounting Firms will be recognized with Pyramid Awards this year at the eighth annual PRIME Symposium, Oct. 23-25, in Dallas.

The award recipients this year were: Miami-based MBAF, Pasadena, Calif.-based KROST and Little Rock, Ark.-based Frost PLLC.

MBAF was the recipient of IPA’s “Pyramid of Excellence” award. This high-performing firm ranked No. 1 among the elite 50 Best of the Best Firms selected by IPA. The rankings are based on data from the 29th annual IPA Survey and Analysis of Firms, which covers finances and operations in dozens of areas. This $124.3 million, IPA 100 firm, with 66 partners and 563 staff, has been named a Best of the Best firm 17 consecutive times.

KROST, once again, received the IPA Best of the Best “Fastest-Growing Pyramid Award.” With a 29.6% growth rate, this firm has demonstrated impressive results with no mergers to enhance that number. This is KROST’s third consecutive year as an IPA Best of the Best firm and Fastest-Growing firm. The $33.1 million firm ranked No. 110 on the IPA 200 list.

Frost PLLC received the IPA Best of the Best “Pyramid Award.” The $29.4 million firm, ranked No. 124 on the IPA 200 list, first appeared as a Best of the Best firm in 1996. Since then, IPA has named Frost a Best of the Best firm 21 times. Frost sustains financial and operational excellence year after year.

View a complete listing of the 2018 IPA Best of the Best.

Subscribe to the INSIDE Public Accounting Newsletter.

Order the 2018 Benchmarking Report.

IPA Spotlight On … Gary Wallace

Name: Gary Wallace

Gary Wallace

Title: MP-Elect

Firm: Glen Allen, Va.-based Keiter (FY17 net revenue of $27 million)


  • Elected MP to start in new role in January 2019.
  • Joined Keiter as partner in 2010 and currently leads tax practice and is member of executive committee.
  • Worked in public accounting for 30 years at KPMG and now Keiter. Has also served as CFO for a prominent family office.
  • Specializes in taxation, including transaction structuring and consulting with business owners.

You will take over as MP on January 1st. How are you preparing for the transition from Mike Gracik?

Our firm has taken a systematic approach to succession including my new role as managing partner. Our process began over a year ago and Mike has done a great job in preparing me with everything from “shadowing” to participating in key firm decisions. His approach has been very effective for me personally as well as with our team, clients and our community.

You haven’t ‘grown up’ professionally in accounting firms alone. Do you believe your private sector experience will aid you in guiding the future of Keiter? If so, why? What do you feel you need to learn about the profession?

My career in public accounting will be very valuable in leading our firm. I learned from many great leaders and role models as well as from working through my own situations. On-the-job experiences will significantly benefit me because I have gone through many of the decisions and life lessons that I may potentially face. However, my private sector experience as a CFO broadened my breadth of business understanding and was a great learning experience on how to operate a business. As a past CFO, I participated in business decisions, which will assist me with firm decisions at Keiter and will also give me a better understanding of our clients’ decision-making. The combination of public accounting and private industry experience provides a unique perspective for leading our firm.

What are your growth goals for Keiter?

Growth is important for our firm, primarily because it allows and provides rewarding opportunities for our current partners as well as our future leaders. I am enthusiastic about growing our practice areas and seeking new service opportunities to support our clients, as well as our people and community. Accounting firms are experiencing many changes, from technology to client needs. Embracing new opportunities comes with our entrepreneurial spirit and will guide us for our growth goals going forward.

You’ve said that one of your priorities as MP is to expand support to the Richmond, Va., community. What do you have in mind?

Keiter has a great reputation in our community. I hear the appreciation that our clients and community leaders have for us every day. I want us to be more focused on how our services and support makes a difference. Our community deserves our effort and our team feels the rewards from such support. There is no master plan to expanding our support. It’s simply to keep our clients and community top of mind as we conduct our business and volunteer our time.

Final thoughts?

Why do I look forward to this new opportunity? It’s simple. I am excited to be making a difference for our team, clients and community.

INSIDE Public Accounting Reveals The Nation’s Largest 400 Accounting Firms

INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) is proud to present its first ranking of the nation’s largest 400 accounting firms – the only one of its kind.

The IPA 400 firms will be listed in the October issue of IPA and will pick up where August’s IPA 300 issue left off, ranking firms from No. 301 to No. 400. This definitive list was developed by gathering information from more than 550 firms that completed IPA’s Survey and Analysis of Firms. Many professional associations also aided in the search for firms to add to the list, which IPA plans to publish annually.

For the most recent fiscal year, IPA 400 firms range in size from $4.55 million to $9.9 million, and from 20 to 80 staff. These firms employee more than 4,000 total staff across the nation.

For more than two decades years, IPA has sustained a tradition of groundbreaking excellence by compiling the annual IPA 100, 200 and 300 accounting firms and the IPA Best of the Best. As the profession continues to grow and evolve, IPA will evolve with it.

Highlights of the IPA 400:

3.7% – Average organic revenue growth
2.0% – Average organic net income growth
11.8% – Average staff turnover
$76,065 – Average pay per professional staff
$391,096 – Average equity partner compensation

View the list of the INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) 400 firms.

Subscribe to the IPA newsletter to receive the upcoming benchmarking analyses and in-depth interviews with key leaders within the profession. IPA offers a complimentary news source, the IPA Insider E-News Update. Sign up online.

Order any of the 2018 IPA benchmarking products, including the IPA National Benchmarking Report, to gain insider strategies.

IPA INSIDER: September 2018 News

Listed below are the Top 10 most-read stories on the INSIDE Public Accounting blog for the month of September.

  1. Congratulations to the 2018 IPA 200 and 300 Firms
  2. Just Announced: The 2018 IPA 100
  3. INSIDE Public Accounting Unveils 2018 Best of the Best Accounting Firms
  4. Founder of Sikich Accounting Firm Dies in Fall at Lake Redstone
  5. PwC Invests $45M in Wellness Perks and New Parents’ Benefits
  6. Eide Bailly Names New Chief Practice Officer for South Central Region
  7. IPA Spotlight On … Chris Geier, Sikich
  8. HHM CPAs Names New Chief Operating Officer
  9. WebsterRogers Partner and Wife Killed in Car Crash 
  10. Applied Artificial Intelligence Leader Joins Grant Thornton

IPA Releases Annual Benchmarking Reports / Executive Summaries

Order the Reports

The nation’s accounting firms are growing more slowly this year than in 2017, according to INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) 29th annual National Benchmarking Report.

The report, the largest of its kind, is based on survey results from 532 North American accounting firms with fiscal year ends from September 2017 to May 2018.

“While revenue growth has slowed, firms are recognizing that their tried-and-true business models needs a revamp,” says IPA publisher Michael Platt. “Firm leaders are therefore investing in new technologies and services now to help their clients adapt to a business environment that has never undergone such rapid change.”

The report analyzes data from 198 firms under $10 million, 254 firms between $10 million and $50 million, and 80 firms above $50 million in net revenue.

INSIDE Public Accounting’s National Benchmarking Report provides detailed information in 80+ pages of tables presented in nine different revenue bands and regional breakouts so firms can easily benchmark their performance against other similar-sized firms.

Key highlights from the 2018 INSIDE Public Accounting National Benchmarking Report:

  • Top-line revenue organic growth fell this year to 4.6% and all growth fell to 6.6%, down from 2017 levels of 6.3% and 8.3% respectively.
  • Merger activity remains strong, with 53% of firms above $50 million reporting at least one merger last year. Across all firms, 22% reported at least one merger, with the most merger activity in the Great Lakes region, with 34% of this region acquiring at least one firm last year.
  • Billing rates are up for equity partners this year by 3.8% to an average of $358 for all firms. The largest increase was seen in the Great Lakes and Northeast, averaging $339 and $374 per hour, respectively.
  • Net income growth averages slowed again to 5.0% for all firms from 5.2% in 2017. Factoring in the effects of mergers, the all-growth rate slowed to 5.8%, down from 6.4% in 2017.
  • The average equity partner compensation for all firms is 2.2 times the average non-equity partner compensation.
  • The average percentage of female ownership this reporting year is at 19.4%, up from 18.9% in 2017. Among firms above $50 million, the average is 16.5%, up from 15.9% last year.
  • Of the more than 10,000 equity partners reported by participating firms, 181, or just under 2.0%, work a part-time or alternative schedule.
  • The average percentage of total professional staff with a CPA license continues to inch downward, as the possibilities for non-CPA professionals expand due to more non-traditional services. Some staff simply have not yet sat for the CPA exam, but across all firms, CPAs now make up an average of 56.8% of all professional staff, including all partners.

The IPA National Benchmarking Report is used by managing partners, firm leaders, marketers, attorneys, firm administrators and business development directors to compare their firm’s performance against others, and to uncover trends, ideas and techniques to improve operations.

The 2018 INSIDE Public Accounting National Benchmarking Report covers partner compensation, administrative salaries, revenue by service line, partner workloads, marketing costs, training requirements, realization, retirement plans and dozens of other metrics – both by revenue band and region of the country.

For additional insight into the results of the 2018 IPA National Benchmarking Report, access a complimentary copy of the executive summary or order your 2018 Benchmarking Reports.


IPA Spotlight On … Chris Geier, Sikich

Name: Christopher Geier

Christopher Geier

Christopher Geier

Title: CEO and MP

Firm: Naperville, Ill.-based Sikich (FY17 net revenue of $152.1 million)


  • Became CEO and MP on Jan. 1, 2017.
  • Former PIC of the firm’s advisory services and investment banking practice and a member of the executive board
  • More than 20 years of experience in mergers and acquisitions and capital raising transactions across multiple industries

Among the IPA 100, accounting and audit revenue is declining and non-traditional services are on the rise. Which practice area is growing fastest at your firm and how do you plan to continue expanding this niche?

With a wide mix of practice areas, Sikich is uniquely positioned to help businesses improve productivity and performance. And as technology changes the way accounting services are delivered, we are well-prepared to adapt. We have a robust technology practice that offers innovative digital strategies and technology solutions. We’re a leader in cloud and emerging technologies, and our solutions include everything from cybersecurity to artificial intelligence to blockchain. We are leveraging this expertise to place technology at the center of all the services we offer clients.

What’s the biggest threat facing your firm today and how do you intend to overcome it?

The competition for talent is increasing. We know we must continue to attract talented, innovative professionals to remain a competitive firm that offers impactful business solutions to clients. As a driver of innovation in the professional services industry, we are well positioned to attract ambitious and creative employees who question the status quo and seek to transform business processes. We continue to embrace an entrepreneurial company culture that rewards risk-taking and creative solutions. As a result, talented professionals who are looking to chart a unique, unencumbered career path will thrive at Sikich.

How do you envision CPA firm services evolving over the next 10 years?

Disruption is coming to the industry. Propelled by technological innovation, firms will need to change how they deliver services. Some will, and some won’t. As a result, I expect there will be significant consolidation in the industry over the next several years. The firms that adopt technology-enabled solutions will enhance client service and position themselves for long-term success.

Final thoughts?

My motto for our firm is, “Embrace change and learn to adapt. It’s inevitable in business that you will need to do both well.” That’s a good motto for the rest of the industry, as well.

New MP, Five New Partners at Mauldin & Jenkins

Hanson Borders

Atlanta-based Mauldin & Jenkins (FY18 net revenue of $50.6 million) announces that Hanson Borders, previous Birmingham, Ala., office PIC and financial institutions group leader, became new MP of the firm Sept. 1.

Hanson began his career with Mauldin & Jenkins in 1989 and has 29 years of auditing, tax and consulting experience primarily in the financial services area. He replaces Donny Luker, who served as MP for the last nine years.

In addition, Mauldin & Jenkins announces that five professionals have been admitted as new partners:

Heather Batson

 Heather Batson, Chattanooga, Tenn. – Batson has been with the firm since 2003. Her experience includes audits for financial institutions, including public companies, not-for-profit organizations and employee benefit plans.

Nicole Cunningham, Birmingham, Ala. – Cunningham has been with the firm since 2005. Her experience includes audits for financial institutions, internal control audits, non-profit organization audits, HUD audits, and examinations of controls at service center organizations.

Derrick Cowart, Savannah, Ga. – Cowart is a partner in the governmental practice division. His experience covers a wide variety of state and local governments in Georgia and South Carolina. He has been practicing public accounting since 1985. He came to Mauldin & Jenkins in 2018 as part of the firm’s acquisition of a governmental auditing, accounting and consulting practice in Savannah, Ga., for which he practiced for over 27 years.

Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon, Atlanta – Gordon joined the firm in 2005. Since then, he has focused his career on audits for financial institutions and audits of employee benefit plans. Additionally, his experience includes assisting clients with FDICIA and SOX 404 testing, HUD compliance and regulatory reporting. His experience also includes audits of clients within the governmental sector and the health care industry.

Tim Lyons, Columbia, S.C. – Lyons recently transferred to the Columbia office from the Atlanta office. He specializes in service to clients in a wide range of industries including middle market and privately held businesses, employee benefit plans, higher education, not-for-profit organizations and governmental entities. His experience covers attestation services, consulting, and advisory work with a wide variety of clients throughout the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee.