IPA INSIDER: August 2018 News

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

  1. INSIDE Public Accounting Unveils 2018 Best of the Best Accounting Firms
  2. Congratulations to the 2018 IPA 200 and 300 Firms
  3. Just Announced: The 2018 IPA 100
  4. Morrow Wins Boomer Consulting Award
  5. Congratulations to the 2018 IPA 100 Fastest-Growing Firms
  6. Grant Thornton Adds 19 Partners
  7. Congratulations to the 2018 IPA 100 All Growth Fastest-Growing Firms
  8. Baker Tilly, RGL Forensics Are Merging
  9. Four Join Partnership at HHM CPAs
  10. Islam Joins Friedman as International Tax Partner

Morrow Wins Boomer Consulting Award

Chris Morrow

Birmingham, Ala.-based Warren Averett (FY17 net revenue of $133.3 million) has announced the CIO Chris Morrow has been honored with the Bridging the Gap Firm Management award from Boomer Consulting.

This honor is awarded to someone who is not only a leader in a firm, but someone who has demonstrated effective efforts, through working with the firm’s IT group, to integrate IT strategy, IT leadership and IT resources with the firm’s vision, plans and goals.

“Technology continues transforming our world and the way that we conduct business, and utilizing technology to its full potential has been a great benefit to our firm,” Morrow says. “Technology is what I am passionate about. I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can pursue that passion while helping Warren Averett thrive.”

The firm announced that Morrow has championed several initiatives that have positioned Warren Averett as a leader in IT for the accounting industry, and that he helps establish firm-wide consensus about the value of technology within the firm and its operations.

Morrow led development of an app that is used to manage the flow of accounting projects. The workflow tool prevents deadlines from being missed and contributes to higher profit realization. The firm has also developed a custom client portal that streamlines information requests, delivery of sensitive data, and, soon, it will allow clients to electronically sign documents and tax returns.

“These awards showcase the individuals and firms that are leading the charge to link firm management, technology and talent,” says Sandra Wiley, president of Boomer Consulting. “To stay ahead of the curve and remain future-ready, firms must have the right leaders and players in place. It’s an honor to be able to recognize some of the brightest and most influential people in accounting.”

LBMC Expands Health Care Practice With New Partners, New Cyber Chief

Courtney Bach

Brentwood, Tenn.-based LBMC (FY18 net revenue of $104.3 million) has admitted three professionals to the partnership as audit and advisory shareholders: health care specialists Courtney Bach and Meredith Douglas.

The firm, ranked No. 43 on the 2018 IPA 100 list, also announced that Mark Johnson will lead the health care cybersecurity division. Johnson is KPMG’s former health care information security expert.

 “These exceptional leaders bring nearly 50 years of collective experience and expertise in health care audit and advisory, compliance, risk and information security and join us at a transformational time for our firm. I look forward to seeing them lead the way as we continue to provide solutions for our clients’ expanding needs – both in the near and long term,” says Jeff Drummonds, CEO of LBMC.

Today, LBMC Healthcare encompasses experts in audit, tax, consulting, transaction advisory, data analytics, valuation, risk and compliance, technology and much more. Experts serve clients in 50 states as not only service providers but innovators in the product development space, the firm says.

Meredith Douglas

Bach has more than 10 years of professional experience in health care audit and advisory services. Bach has directed audit, consulting and due diligence health care engagements for hospitals, behavioral health providers, continuing care retirement communities, independent and assisting living facilities, nursing homes and hospice care organizations. She began her career in LBMC health care and has been instrumental in the division’s growth.

Douglas also began her career with LBMC and has over 13 years of professional experience in health care audit and advisory services. She manages and oversees teams on audit, reviews and consulting engagements for all types of health care organizations.  Douglas works with a number of hospitals, both for-profit and not-for-profit, behavioral health and long-term care providers, health care technology companies, ambulatory surgery centers and independent physician associations.

Johnson has over 26 years of information security experience providing solutions to commercial companies, non-profit organizations, and various federal government agencies, including the design, development, implementation and administration of information security strategic programs. In his new role, he will lead the effort to build and maintain security programs that reduce risk, mitigate threats and maintain compliance.

PKF O’Connor Davies Names New Business Development Officer

Ronald F. DeSoiza

New York-based PKF O’Connor Davies (FY17 net revenue of $160 million) has promoted partner Ronald F. DeSoiza to the role of chief business development officer.

In this position, DeSoiza will be instrumental in executing the firm’s strategic growth initiatives through new business development.

Kevin J. Keane

“Ron has been a trusted voice in the PKF O’Connor Davies family for a number of years, and we’re confident in his ability to meet the challenges in his new role,” says MP Kevin J. Keane. “We’re raising the bar on securing new business this year. Ron is the right person to lead our business development efforts to attract and secure new clients.”

DeSoiza has nearly three decades of experience in the accounting industry and has been with PKF O’Connor Davies for nearly eight years. In his new role, he will take on an expanded role in business development planning and growing specific practice areas.

In addition to his role as at PKF O’Connor Davies, DeSoiza conducts peer reviews of other CPA firms across the nation on behalf of the AICPA. He has also participated in numerous New York State civil and criminal cases, and has testified before the New York State Insurance Department.

Freed Maxick Admits New Director 

David J. Hansen

Buffalo, N.Y.-based Freed Maxick (FY18 net revenue of $45.9 million) has admitted David J. Hansen into the director’s group. Hansen is located in the firm’s Rochester, N.Y., office and joined the practice in 2007.

He has a broad background, specializing in both financial and technical control reviews, Sarbanes-Oxley engagements and other risk advisory and assurance projects and serves as the methodology and practice lead for Freed Maxick’s System and Organization Control (SOC) reporting services, Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance practice. Hansen also works with commercial banks, publicly traded companies, and other highly regulated entities, both internationally and domestically.

In addition to practice oversight, Hansen is heavily involved in the planning, execution and completion of various SOC, PCI and IT and financial consulting engagements for clients operating in a variety of industries, including technology services, higher education, government, manufacturing, health care and financial services.

“With a strong work ethic and a talented team of professionals behind you, one can accomplish anything – which I have experienced firsthand. I’ve always lived by the idea to do right by your colleagues and clients, and a trusted relationship will follow along to a bright future,” says Hansen.

FLVS Director Starr Joins Whitley Penn

Fort Worth, Texas-based Whitley Penn (FY17 net revenue of $97.6 million), an IPA 100 firm, announces that Michelle Starr will be joining the firm as director of forensic litigation and valuation services (FLVS) in the Houston office.

Starr has more than 15 years of experience as a valuation analyst, expert witness, and business consultant. She is focused primarily on navigating mergers and acquisitions; loan covenants requirements; divorce; buy-ins and buy-outs; selling a business or professional practice; estate planning; navigating taxable events and settling legal disputes.

Starr assists clients with division of assets, asset tracing, assessing economic damages, settling disputes, resolving tax audits and levying monetary implications of breach of contract. She has also served as a financial expert in mediation.

“We are eager to welcome Michelle to our team and believe her extensive experience will be a catalyst to continued growth in the future,” states Jim Penn, PIC of FLVS.

IPA Spotlight On … William C. Taylor, Fast Company

Name: William C. Taylor

William C. Taylor

William C. Taylor

Title: Founding Editor

Company: Fast Company magazine


  • Cofounder and founding editor of Fast Company Amazingly, 2018 is the 25th anniversary of the start of our Fast Company adventure
  • Author of three best-selling books on strategy, leadership and innovation. Most recent is Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways
  • Popular management blogger at Harvard Business Review online
  • Created and wrote the “Under New Management” column for the New York Times 

You’re known for sparking change in even the most traditional fields. Why is change so difficult?

Change is hard because originality is hard. You can’t do big things anymore if you’re content with doing things a little better than everybody else or a little differently from how you did them in the past. The goal is no longer to be the best at what lots of others already do. It’s to be the only one who does what you do. What do you promise that no one else can promise? What do you deliver that only you can deliver? What are you prepared to do for the clients you serve that other organizations simply can’t or won’t do? Those are the questions that drive change, and they are hard questions to answer.

Why do so many change initiatives fail?

I’ve always been struck by this quote from the legendary management guru Jim Collins. “The signature of mediocrity,” he says, “is not an unwillingness to change. The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.” That’s what I find at so many long-established organizations. Leaders shop for ideas about change the way they shop for groceries. What I’ve found is that the work of making deep-seated, long-lasting change succeeds when it comes from the inside rather than the outside, from the bottom up rather than the top down, and when leaders understand that slow and steady wins the race. That may sound odd coming from the cofounder of Fast Company, but there is no quick road to transformation.

If you were to give a slow-to-change business leader, such as a CPA firm managing partner, one piece of advice on how to create a more innovative culture, what would it be?

Change your colleagues’ mindsets about the definition of risk. What I’ve seen over the years is that the more things change, the more the objections to change remain the same. So the first job of leadership is convincing your colleagues, and perhaps themselves, that playing it safe may be the most dangerous course of all. Change begins when individuals and organizations conclude that the risk of trying something new is less than the cost of clinging to what’s worked in the past. That’s a big shift in mindset in most organizations – but it’s the mindset that makes a difference.

What is the central theme you hope readers take away from Simply Brilliant?

That there is no such thing as an average or old-fashioned business, just average or old-fashioned ways to do business. I am trying to convince leaders in fields that are nothing like virtual reality or self-driving cars or social media that the thrill of breakthrough creativity can be summoned in all sorts of industries and all walks of life – if executives and entrepreneurs are prepared to reimagine what’s possible in their fields. In fact, the opportunity to reach for extraordinary may be most pronounced in settings that have been far too ordinary for far too long.

Final Thoughts?

I’m looking forward to sharing a set of ideas and a collection of case studies about the future of professional services in general and the accounting profession in particular. One particular challenge I hope to highlight is what I call the “paradox of expertise.” Often, the more successful we are as leaders, the more accomplished we are in our careers, the harder it can be to open our minds to the changes swirling around us. Without ever intending it, we let what we know limit what we can imagine. I’d like to help these accomplished leaders overcome the paradox of expertise.

Bill Taylor will be a speaker at INSIDE Public Accounting’s 2018 PRIME Symposium conference. For more information contact prime@plattgroupllc.com.

IPA Spotlight On … Andi Simon

Name: Andrea J. Simon, Ph.D.

Andi Simon

Andi Simon

Title: Corporate Anthropologist, President and CEO

Firm: Simon Associates Management Consultants


  • A corporate anthropologist whose consulting firm, Simon Associates Management Consultants, specializes in working with organizations that need or want to change.
  • Award-winning author of the book “On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights.” Creator and host of the podcast “On the Brink with Andi Simon.”
  • Prolific speaker, with over 390 workshops and keynote speeches on the topics of Blue Ocean Strategy, culture change and change management.
  • Developer of proprietary ChangeMap™ process to enable businesses to achieve desired transformations.

Unlike popular images of anthropologists, they are more often found in corporate offices than in remote villages. Why?

Businesses can be viewed as small-scale societies. They create their own, unique ways of doing things. Their beliefs, values and behaviors become rather sacred to them, protected even when they cease to be useful in a changing business environment. Anthropology trains people how and why observational research is essential to better understand why some things are happening in particular ways. By observing behaviors, you see things people do not really know they are doing to each other or in their business processes. That’s why Intel has over 100 anthropologists studying how people in different cultures work with, or avoid, technologies, for example.

You’ve said companies need both ‘discoverers’ and ‘deliverers.’ What do you mean?

People have different ways of “seeing” things. Neuroscience tells us that people organize realities that create and then conform to their “stories” of how things should work. The challenge for businesses is that they tend to bring together people who are very similar, know how to run a task and deliver desired results. This works great in stable environments, but the fast pace of change means businesses need not only deliverers but discoverers – people who can observe how customers are “really” solving their problems. Discoverers are able to set aside long-standing “truths” and better anticipate the future unmet needs of clients and the potential value of new ways of getting things done.

What’s so great about systematic observation?

Ethnographic research or observational research offers a process to look or listen to what is actually happening. Observational research offers a very different perspective than surveys and statistical data. Whether you are watching people using a website to better understand how they are finding the answers they need, or how they interact with a client, what they tell you and what they do are not the same. For example, during the early period of e-commerce, we installed cameras to see how people bought products online. They would tell you what they think you want to hear and typically establish themselves as the “heroes” in their stories. What they did was very different.

What’s the biggest stumbling block to innovation in professional services firms?

Professional services firms face four big hurdles when trying to bring innovations into their organizations. They come from people’s resistance to change. As the well-known quote goes, “People are not against change; they just don’t want to be changed.” The four hurdles are:

  • Cognitive hurdle when people say they don’t understand what you want them to do.
  • Motivational hurdle – when people are simply not willing or interested in changing.
  • Resources hurdle – when people say they have no time, no budget, no resources, no interest in change.
  • Political hurdle when people are more afraid of who they will irritate than they are willing to embrace the changes and stand apart from others.

Do you believe that when people have been working in a business for a long time they’re operating out of habit and stop seeing things that don’t fit their expectations? 

People survive with other groups of people in cultures with shared habits, values, expectations, beliefs and behaviors. Our brains use 25% of the body’s energy. It is much more efficient when it allows the habits to control our thinking and behaviors. At times, those habits are extremely valuable, but those same habits are not very useful when things are changing. Our biases are so strong that we tend to delete or discount things that are unfamiliar, uncomfortable or just irritating to our normal way of doing our jobs. Customers that leave must be the problem. Products that are not selling must reflect bad clients. If we don’t better understand those clients and their unmet needs we may not have clients in the near future.

Final thoughts

The tremendous value of anthropology comes from how it helps people see things with fresh eyes. Three actions from our tool kit that are easy for business leaders to try:

  • Sit in on the inbound customer service phone and listen to what people are asking for. You will learn a great deal about those customers’ needs and how aligned you are or are not with them.
  • Spend a couple of hours or a “day in the life” of a client and observe ways you might be able to help them differently.
  • Schedule a lunch with a prospective client. Don’t sell them anything. Ask them to talk about their challenges and pain points. You will hear lots of potential ways you could rethink your own business and grow innovatively.

Andi Simon will be a speaker at INSIDE Public Accounting’s 2018 PRIME Symposium conference. For more information contact prime@plattgroupllc.com.

INSIDE Public Accounting Unveils 2018 Best of the Best Accounting Firms

Continuing the tradition of more than 25 years, INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) has unveiled the 2018 of the Best of the Best public accounting firms in the nation. This group, the highest performers within the profession, are ranked on more than 70 metrics. The 2018 Best of the Best firms produce superior financial results while planning for long-term, sustainable growth.

In 2018, more than 550 firms were eligible for this accolade by participating in IPA’s Annual Survey and Analysis of Firms.

Best of the Best firms represent the top 10% of all firms that participated in the 2018 IPA Survey and Analysis of Firms. IPA’s proprietary scoring formula looks at a variety of metrics related to growth, income, productivity, tools of governance, staff turnover, time management and other areas that speak to the framework of the firm to determine the Best of the Best.

The IPA Best of the Best firms are presented in three categories:

  • Best of the Best above $5 million in revenue (50 firms ranging from $5 million to more than $600 million)
  • Best of the Best under $5 million in revenue (10 firms ranging from $2 million to $5 million)
  • Best of the Best in Canada (five firms ranging from $7 million to $30 million)

Two-thirds of the Best of the Best firms appeared on the list in both 2016 and 2017, demonstrating an impressive commitment to excellence and sustainability. They represent what is possible in a public accounting firm and are the peer group that high-performing firms can benchmark themselves against.

“Most firms don’t aspire to be average. Best of the Best firms are the peer group to which progressive firms aspire,” says Michael Platt, principal of the Platt Group and publisher of IPA. “In presenting the results of the IPA Best of the Best, we are proud to continue the tradition of expanding the imagination and the understanding of what is possible to achieve in running a public accounting firm.”

IPA also ranks and provides key data points annually for the 300 largest accounting firms in the nation. Visit the INSIDE Public Accounting website for details.

You may order copies of the IPA Best of the Best newsletter (Sept. 2018), the IPA 100, IPA 200 and IPA 300 firm (Aug. 2018) issues by contacting: (317) 733-1920; editor@plattgroupllc.com.

Aprio Names New Partner

Rob Shirley

Atlanta-based Aprio (FY17 net revenue of $85.1 million) is pleased to announce that Rob Shirley has joined the firm as a partner. Shirley will be located in Aprio’s Birmingham, Ala., office and in his role will be responsible for expanding Aprio’s presence in the Alabama market.

“Rob has a long history of providing clients with a high level of client service and delivering results, which makes him a strong cultural fit for the firm and reinforces our commitment to the Aprio Way,” says Richard Kopelman, CEO and MP.

Shirley has more than 25 years of experience in both public and private accounting, including six years with a top national accounting firm. He has assisted clients with growing their businesses, including through merger and acquisition, securing debt and managing risks. He has also worked as a financial leader for a national wholesale life insurance distribution company and a regional securities firm. Rob’s expertise extends to construction, manufacturing, retail, not-for-profit organizations and health care.

“It is a privilege to come to such a growth-oriented firm as Aprio,” says Shirley. “I’m excited to grow our presence in the Alabama market and help businesses navigate to their next.”