Armanino Launches Program to Encourage More Women to Become Partners 

Andy Armanino

San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino LLP (FY17 net revenue of $242.7 million) has launched a program designed to drive career advancement for female managers.

Called the Executive Access Program, the initiative will match high-potential female managers with executive committee members to provide them the opportunity to build relationships and understand the path to partnership. The inaugural class includes 18 women.

The firm also announced a Transparency to Partnership educational track to provide clearer insight and more transparency about what it takes to be a partner. Training modules will offer information on partner qualifications, the benefits of partnership, flexibility and expectations, partner profiles and other relevant topics. These courses will be available to all interested firm employees, in order to address misconceptions and barriers.

Both initiatives were developed by Armanino’s Women’s Advancement Network (WAN) and comes after extensive survey findings of male and female Armanino partners and managers provided insights on barriers and opportunities for female partner promotion.

Results revealed that women were opting out of the partner track at twice the rate of men and that executive sponsorship was one of the most important factors in achieving partnership. The survey also revealed gaps in the understanding of the qualifications and benefits of partnership for both men and women. The Accounting MOVE Project conducted the internal survey.

“Armanino is committed to not only meeting but exceeding the industry average of female partners,” says MP Andy Armanino. “In the past three years, 29 percent of internal partner promotions were women, a trend we would like to see increase in the future.”

SVA Welcomes Hoege as Chief Operating Officer

Jennifer Hoege

Madison, Wisc.-based SVA (FY17 net revenue of $56.8 million) has announced the hiring of Jennifer Hoege as its new COO.

Hoege will lead the operational areas of SVA with an eye on process optimization and creating the ideal client experience. The firm says she believes identifying opportunities to strengthen employee engagement leads to a productive and engaged workplace for SVA’s employees. The goal is to recruit and retain talented employees and provide a culture that encourages learning and growth. In turn, this reflects in how SVA provides client service.

“I became a COO because I really enjoy working with people, processes and technology. Those three things together really make an organization successful,” says Hoege.

Carl Schultz, president and CEO of SVA, says, “I have tremendous confidence in Jennifer’s ability to lead SVA into the future. Her experience and knowledge allows SVA and its affiliates to remain as the premier services provider for our clients.”

UHY Elects COO as New Chairman

Rick David

Rick David

UHY, the international accounting and consultancy network, has appointed the chief operating officer of Chicago-based UHY Advisors (FY17 net revenue of $140.8 million) as its new chairman.

Rick David started his career in the audit practice of one of the Big 4, where he practiced for 30 years. He joined the UHY board of directors in October 2012 and currently serves as the treasurer of UHY.

A well-respected auditor and business adviser, he also has experience as an accountancy profession regulator and standard-setter. During his more than 40 years’ experience in the profession, David has worked with a wide range of clients from multinational corporations to smaller entrepreneurial enterprises.

“We are already seeing a large increase in cross-border work coming to the network and that is something that we intend to build on,” David says. “More of our clients want our member firms to represent them globally and that is what this network facilitates.”

One of his key priorities is to expand on the strong links between the member firms across the UHY network and will look to increase referral work between countries and knowledge sharing between local offices. This includes expertise in many newer technological developments.

“The growth in innovative new accounting practices, integrating AI and data analytics for example, are opening up a range of possibilities for the profession – to do work more efficiently and rigorously. These developments have the potential to lead to dramatic improvements in the audit process” David says.

David takes over as chairman from Bernard Fay, MP at UHY Fay & Co, UHY’s Spanish member firm and one of the top 20 leading firms in Spain.

Grant Thornton Extends McGuire’s Term as CEO

Mike McGuire

The partners of Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY17 net revenue of $1.75 billion) have voted unanimously to extend Mike McGuire’s term as CEO until July 31, 2021 – his mandatory retirement date.

“Mike has led our firm to great success over the past four years on many important fronts, from financial results to culture, and from innovation to quality,” says Dave Wedding, chairman of the partnership board. “This term extension means Mike can continue to lead Grant Thornton’s ‘Status Go’ approach to helping our clients overcome challenges and create value.”

Since becoming CEO in January 2015, McGuire and his leadership team have steered Grant Thornton to record-setting revenue, improved quality and invested in the firm’s culture and brand, the firm says. In addition, McGuire and his team are developing innovative capabilities aimed at transforming the professional services industry in the years to come.

“Businesses today face constant disruption and have to move at great speed,” says McGuire. “We’ve spent the past four years at Grant Thornton being intentional in executing our strategy and transforming our firm to ensure success in a complex and evolving business environment – and helping our clients do the same.”

Prior to assuming the CEO post, McGuire served on the firm’s senior leadership team as the national managing partner of operations

After Board Election, Four of 11 BDO Directors Are Women

Maria Karalis

Maria Karalis

Chicago-based BDO (FY18 net revenue of 1.46 billion) announces that Maria Karalis, Karen Stone and Ted Vaughan have each been elected to three-year terms to the firm’s board of directors.

Karalis is a new director, replacing Joe Johnson, who completed the maximum two consecutive terms, while Stone and Vaughan were re-elected to new terms of service. These changes are effective Nov. 1.

Karen Stone

Karen Stone

“I want to welcome Maria to the board and look forward to the valuable insight she will bring to the governance process. Karen and Ted have already made valuable contributions in their previous board service and we are pleased that they will continue to do so in the future,” says Wayne Berson, CEO of BDO. “I’m proud to see that women now comprise nearly 40% of our board. This represents clear evidence of our firm’s commitment to inclusion by providing leadership paths for all professionals.”

Karalis is the MP for assurance services in BDO’s Stamford, Conn., office. She also serves as the leader of the firm’s Cyprus, Greece and U.K. country desks. She began her career with the firm in 1994, providing audit and business advisory services to domestic and multinational private and publicly held companies that operate in a variety of industries. During her tenure at BDO, she has been involved with companies undergoing initial public offerings and private placements as well as domestic and international mergers and acquisitions. Karalis was admitted into the partnership in 2001.

Ted Vaughan

Ted Vaughan

Stone is a partner in the Charlotte, N.C., office and serves as the MP for tax services in the Atlantic region. During her more than 25-year career in public accounting, she has served clients in multiple industries with a focus on the tax consulting and reporting needs of real estate, manufacturing, consumer business and health care companies. Stone previously served as co-chair of BDO USA’s Women’s Inclusion Strategy Group.

Vaughan is the MP for assurance services in BDO’s Dallas office. With more than 25 years of public accounting experience, he provides assurance and consulting services to numerous retail, e-commerce and consumer products companies. As a national leader for the firm’s retail and consumer products practice and an integral member of the firm’s natural resources practice, he focuses on the accounting and reporting issues facing companies in these industries.

Ernst & Young Names New MP in Detroit

Angie Kelly

Angie Kelly is the new OMP for New York-based Ernst & Young (FY17 net revenue of $13 billion) in Detroit.

Kelly, the first female OMP for Detroit, is a 20-year EY veteran. She takes charge of the 700-employee office at a time when it has seen enormous growth, the firm announced.

Her predecessor, George Lenyo, increased the office’s headcount 40% and will continue in Detroit as a global coordinating partner for the automotive industry.

Kelly said she plans to build on Lenyo’s growth through mentorship and amplifying EY’s brand in the market, even as she continues to work with her clients. “I’m so proud of the culture that we have created within our office and proud of the clients we serve and the community we serve.”

Her appointment comes at a time when EY says it is working to increase diversity and inclusion in its workforce. It says it plans to create 100,000 professional job opportunities for women around the world by 2020.

Kelly, who started with the firm as an intern in 1998, said EY will provide advisory, audit, tax and transaction services to small private businesses, companies looking to go public, and 90% percent of the Fortune 1000 companies in Michigan.

LEA Global Hires Ishida as First CEO

Erica Ishida

LEA Global has announced that Erica Ishida has been hired as the association’s first CEO.

She is working with LEA President Karen Kehl-Rose, who will retire at the end of this year and has held the position since LEA was created in 1999. Kehl-Rose will help with the transition through June 2019.

“With more than 15 years of experience in organization design, change management and leadership development, and a solid understanding of the dynamics of change leadership, Erica believes in the power of culture, talent and leadership in growing organizations by growing its people,” LEA announced. Ishida is a certified leadership development coach and has coached CEOs in the companies she has worked for, and on a consulting basis. She founded a strategic execution consulting firm that focused on developing leaders, with an emphasis on women. Ishida is leaving the firm for LEA.

“Erica’s skillset and experience will be on display as part of LEA’s training and coaching and best practices initiatives, says Michael Newton, LEA’s chairman. “She will lead and/or participate in member groups consisting of young professionals, young leaders, women leaders and newly minted managing partners.”

Newton notes that Kehl-Rose and LEA founder Gary Shamis built the association from a handful of like-minded firms to an organization with 226 member in 110 countries with a combined annual revenue of more than $3 billion. “Karen’s commitment to quality, tirelessness and her connection skills have set the tone for the organization. Erica’s role is to now move us forward in a different direction while building off the base that Karen forged in over 19 years as its president.”

LEA’s search committee was represented by members of its international board of directors, chaired by Newton, who is MP at FL Fuller Landau in Montreal, Quebec, and Jeffrey Weiner, chairman and CEO of New York-based Marcum. Consultant Allan Koltin, who assisted with the search, says, “Erica will make a great CEO for The Leading Edge Alliance. She was selected from a strong pool of candidates, but her deep understanding of the accounting profession and her excellent communication and visioning skills put her over the top.”

Survey: Few Women Lead Audits of S&P 500 Companies

Sandy Peters

A small fraction of women at Big 4 firms lead audits of S&P 500 companies, Bloomberg reports.

Overall, women oversaw the audits of 15% of S&P 500 companies, and just 11% of those in the S&P 100, according to 2017 audit engagement partner data reviewed by the CFA Institute.

Deloitte has the largest number of women overseeing these audits, at 21%. The review found 16% at PwC, 13% at EY and 10% at KPMG.

“The gender breakdowns underscore the challenge facing the firms to not only promote women to partner status, but also to retain and assign them to more prestigious, lucrative audits,” Bloomberg Tax reported Sept. 21. “Audit partners often go on to become corporate directors, altering the diversity of the boards they serve on – an area of interest for investors.”

Sandy Peters, head of financial reporting policy for the CFA Institute, told Bloomberg Tax that diversity of senior management and on corporate boards is important to investors, and it should matter to audit committees too. She added that the data also offers a look at the pipeline for the chief financial officer, controller and audit committee positions of the future.

Women do, however, lead three of the Big 4 firms. According to the 2018 Accounting MOVE project, which tracks diversity in the profession, women make up just 24% of partners and principals. Accounting MOVE also said about half of women on track to become partners leave the profession.

PwC said that next year it expects that the proportion of its S&P 500 audits led by women to rise to 22% and that 30% of its partners this year are women. KPMG says 43% of promotions into and within management were of women last year.

Deloitte, in a statement to Bloomberg Tax, said “We continue to invest significantly to develop, sponsor and mentor women as our lead client engagement partners. We have made great progress, yet still have much more to do,” the firm said. “Diversity and inclusion is an ongoing commitment.” EY didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The CFA Institute reviewed data from audit reports submitted to the PCAOB, which requires listing of the lead auditor for publicly traded companies.

ConvergenceCoaching Announces the Graduates of Transformational Leadership Program

Tamera Lorerzel

ConvergenceCoaching has announced the 2017-18 Fall Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP) graduating class.

“Leading the TLP participants in their leadership journey this past year is some of the most rewarding work we do at ConvergenceCoaching,” says Tamera Loerzel, partner at ConvergenceCoaching. “These TLP participants courageously developed new skills and behaviors to take their leadership to the next level, allowing them to take on new roles and responsibilities in their firms.”

Shannon McCain, senior manager at HoganTaylor, says, “I realized from my leadership assessments at the beginning of the Transformational Leadership Program (TLP) that I wasn’t always the most approachable leader. So, in my TLP journey, I set out to become the kind of leader that people say, ‘Yay! I get to work on a project with Shannon!’ ” The TLP has helped me enhance my communications and approach to others to move closer to the inspiring leader I aspire to be.”

Congratulations to the graduates of the fall 2017-2018 program:

  • Andrew Grice, manager, BerganKDV
  • Michael Chrichton, manager, Burdette Smith & Bish LLC
  • Kevin Hamaker, manager, Burdette Smith & Bish LLC
  • Jill Bosnjak, firm administrator, Echelbarger Himebaugh Tam & Co.
  • Jenny Hashley, senior tax manager, Echelbarger Himebaugh Tam & Co.
  • Gloria Zhao, principal, George Johnson & Company
  • Brian Ray, partner, Hertzbach & Company
  • Shannon McCain, senior tax manager, HoganTaylor
  • Ashley McAdams, partner, Horne
  • Jessica Gooch, shareholder, Huselton Morgan Maultsby
  • Kimberly Lyons, shareholder, Huselton Morgan Maultsby
  • Katie Davis, partner, James Moore & Co.
  • Stacy Joyner, partner, James Moore & Co.
  • Eric Troyer, shareholder, Kerkering Barberio & Co.
  • Mike Varner, partner, Kruggel Lawton CPAs
  • Alex Schaeffer, senior manager, Kruggel Lawton CPAs
  • Heather Lewis, director, Marvin and Company
  • Darrick Lamb, partner, Sallan Nemes Lyman & Strakovits
  • Karl Wolpert, tax manager, Weinstein Spira
  • Mike Lamb, principal, Wessel & Company
  • Chris Weir, principal, Wessel & Company

The Evolving Employee DNA

By: Tom Barry, Managing Partner, Green Hasson Janks

Tom Barry

DNA is the genetic code of organisms. The dictionary defines it as “the fundamental and distinctive characteristics or qualities of someone or something.”

What does this have to do with accounting? Is this article about science? Not exactly. It is about the science – and art – of identifying and understanding an accounting firm’s evolving “DNA,” or culture, as the foundation for a successful organization and thriving employees. We are exploring how the future of the industry is requiring us to examine how we hire, develop and nurture our talent.

The Future of Accounting

An accounting firm’s DNA had typically been based on a historical legacy, carried over from an era where the profession looked far different than today – and certainly not reflecting where the profession is headed. Accountants were essentially historians, who were paid to look back at books and records and identify issues and errors. Fast forward, the role of accountant has evolved to that of a trusted advisor, one who can accurately provide clients with insights to illuminate good decisions. But with the advancements of technology, big data and the pace of technology commerce, accountants need to be trusted futurists. As my predecessor, Leon Janks, stated well:

“It’s now our job as advisors to sort through this data, analyze and determine the best practices to help our clients reach their potential and grow their business. Businesses exist in a very dynamic environment and management needs to be agile in order to make changes and anticipate the future.”

There are three main factors related to the evolution of accounting firms: technology, generational differences and diversity of thought.

Accounting Firms and Technology DNA

The accounting profession is 7,000 years old. The AICPA was founded in 1887. We can rest assured that change and evolution of the profession has occurred more times that we can imagine. So how is today different? In a word: technology. Technology is considered to be an evolutionary process in that it evolves exponentially, known as Moore’s Law. Each generation of technology speeds up the subsequent generations’ advancements, which causes accelerating change. It does not just feel like the rate technology changes is accelerating, it actually is. Therefore the DNA of tomorrow requires accountants to be well versed in their “toolbox”: the computer, and the impact of technology.

The Generational Impact on DNA

Now that a majority of a firm’s employees are in different generations from its leaders, old rules do not apply. Your business, your clients and your talent continue to evolve, so staying ahead means keeping vigilant on evolving trends, client needs and talent needs. One trend to watch is generational differences. Younger workers want a reason to come to work. They want to feel that they matter, that their work matters and that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves.

In 2017, millennials (born 1981-1996) made up 38% of the nation’s workforce, more than any other generation.[1] Going forward, millennials will dominate the accounting industry, comprising 75% of employees by 2025.[2] Generation Z (born 1996-present) will continue the evolution. We hear some older generations complain about the needs of younger workers, but their needs are now the business’s needs, and leadership has an opportunity to create an environment in which employees understand their generational differences and work together effectively.

The DNA of the Diversity of Thought

Our industry’s client experience is evolving from compliance to an advisory mindset. This is a change that involves aligning ourselves with the client’s needs and helping them reach the right solutions. Making this change takes a new skill set, and recruiting the right talent becomes even more important.

Creating teams that bring diversity of thought increases the opportunity to deepen the client experience and cross-pollinate internal learning across different backgrounds and levels of business acumen.

We are in a war for talent, and the need for people with a consultative mentality makes it even more difficult. We can look at this as an opportunity rather than a challenge, however. Defining your firm’s DNA includes defining what type of employee you need and want.

Having a diverse team is key for creating a consultative approach and developing the ability to ask the right questions. When employees asks questions that come from understanding the client’s culture, strengths, challenges, best practices and industry sector, they are more effective as consultants and advisors and provide a more meaningful client experience.

At Green Hasson Janks, we seek people who are genuinely curious and ask insightful questions. Our candidates are collaborative and like working as part of a team. They are problem-solvers. Candidates who match our DNA are not always easy to find through traditional means, and a broader perspective makes sense.

One reason for the smaller candidate pool is that the unemployment rate for accountants and auditors was 2.0% in the second quarter of 2018, much lower than the 4.0% national unemployment rate, according to the latest quarterly report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).[3]

To find alternative talent pools that match a firm’s DNA, some are looking to individuals with disabilities, older workers, veterans, freelancers, apprenticeship programs, former employees or customers. Bringing in new types of employees adds diversity of thought and also can add new cultural or regional perspectives that can speed innovation.

Making talent acquisition changes based on your firm’s DNA also adds more roads to tomorrow’s success. For example, it has the potential for adding creativity and innovation to your business and the client experience. It has been proven that more diverse teams increase innovation and business outcomes. Innovative approaches and solutions may emerge through idea generation, teaming and collaboration. A wider range of people and thought may also lead to new product and service offerings that differentiate your firm and the client experience.

Where We Go From Here

To attract, develop and retain employees that are the right fit, a firm must be able to articulate its culture. Most can define somewhat random keywords (e.g., friendly, businesslike, conservative, liberal, technical, and specialized, etc.) but may not have an overarching definition that touches all aspects of the business. Agreeing on a definition is core to redefining a firm’s DNA. A culture is unique to every firm, and one size does not fit all.

We went through a yearlong process at Green Hasson Janks to define our culture in a way that reflected our values and could take us well into the future. We embraced the principles of Simon Sinek, who asks organizations to define “What is our Why?” The Why is our DNA. Each firm is different, with values that roll into their own unique Why. When those values are applied to behavior, the result is culture. Each individual also has their own Why, which is a filter through which they make choices, at work and at home, that lead to fulfillment.

With this in mind, we have been able to create a much more specific profile of the person that fits our DNA, our Why, our culture. A strong definition of the person we want in our organization streamlines the hiring process and aids in retaining and developing our talent as their careers unfold. That reduces HR cost and supports the employee’s happiness in working at our firm.

Employee DNA will continue to change, and accounting firm culture will continue to adapt and change to meet new worker and client needs. Firms that frequently define and redefine their DNA have an advantage.

Tom Barry is a CPA and Managing Partner at Green Hasson Janks, a Los Angeles accounting and consulting firm that specializes in nonprofit, food and beverage, health and wellness, and entertainment and media companies. Barry’s role is a combination of entrepreneur, partner, consultant, mentor and business advisor. He provides audit and accounting, tax and general business consulting services to clients in a variety of industries including waste management and recycling, manufacturing, distribution and the restaurant industry. He can be reached at