Withum’s Latest Video Aims to Bust Stereotypes

Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown (FY16 net revenue of $147.1 million) has produced its annual ‘State of the Firm’ video, and this one takes aim at accountants’ reputation as being boring bean counters.

As the firm says, “Withum is not your parents’ public accounting firm. Not even close.”

MP and CEO Bill Hagaman says, “We unveiled a video showcasing how Withum and its more than 800 employees are shattering industry stereotypes – as number crunchers, journal jugglers and pencil pushers – that have plagued our profession for decades. At Withum, we genuinely get excited about our work – we have passion and fun and look beyond the numbers on a piece of paper.”

An IPA Best of the Best firm, Withum is ranked No. 27 on the latest IPA 100 list.

According to Hagaman, Withum employees are financial artists, so to speak. “Our firm is a place where creativity, innovation and diverse thought processes are encouraged and expected. This is our strength and how we express our underlying values – the Withum Way – internally and to our clients.”

During Withum’s annual State of the Firm meeting, Hagaman also provided staff an overview of the firm’s strategic plan for organic and service-area growth. In addition, he offered a favorable forecast for accounting as a career.

INSIDE Public Accounting Again Partners with Association for Accounting Marketing; Nominations Open For 2017 Marketer of the Year

INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) is proud to announce that it is sponsoring the Association for Accounting Marketing’s (AAM) Marketer of the Year Award for the fourth year, and is soliciting nominations during the month of January.

The award, presented annually at AAM’s Summit, recognizes an individual who has demonstrated exemplary performance in the field of accounting marketing. To be eligible, all nominees must have held a senior-level marketing position in an accounting firm for at least three years, although not necessarily at the same firm.MOY 2014_Final Image

“We’re proud to once again sponsor the Marketer of the Year award in 2017,” says INSIDE Public Accounting Publisher Kelly Platt. “IPA views the sponsorship as an extension of our long-standing commitment to the accounting profession. We’ve been recognizing ‘Best of the Best’ firms in the nation for more than 20 years, and it’s a pleasure to also recognize the dedicated and creative marketing professionals who help their firms succeed.”

Past Marketer of the Year award winners include Rhonda Maraziti of Princeton, N.J.-based Withum in 2016, Eric Majchrzak, of Tucson, Ariz.-based BeachFleischman in 2015, and Randy Mowat of Calgary, Alberta-based MNP in 2014.

Nominations should be submitted online by Jan. 31, 2017. Nominations are not anonymous, and self-nominations are welcome. Previous nominees are encouraged to re-apply.

Nominees will be judged on their strategic importance to their firm and their impact on helping the firm achieve its goals. Financial results, communication skills, execution of initiatives and leadership will also be considered. Nominees will be asked to fill out online applications by Feb. 21.

The Marketer of the Year Award will be presented at the Association for Accounting Marketing’s 2017 Summit, held in partnership with the AICPA’s ENGAGE conference, set for June 12-15 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Please contact Christina Camara at moy@plattgroupllc.com with questions about the award. For information about the Association for Accounting Marketing and its annual summit, call AAM at (856) 439-0500 or visit the Summit website.

The Platt Group publishes the award-winning INSIDE Public Accounting newsletter and IPA Annual National Benchmarking Report. IPA provides thought leaders across the nation with practical ideas, benchmarking data and information to help firms succeed. To learn more about The Platt Group and IPA, please call (317) 733-1920 or visit www.insidepublicaccounting.com.

The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) promotes excellence, and elevates the professional stature of marketing, business development and other practice growth professionals to the accounting profession, directly impacting members’ professional development and careers through education, networking and thought leadership. Founded in 1989, AAM has more than 700 members, comprised of marketing professionals, business developers, CPAs, consultants, service providers, educators and students. To learn more about AAM, please call (856) 380-6860 or visit www.accountingmarketing.org.

A Managing Partner’s Guide to Social Media

By: Lee Frederiksen

Lee Frederiksen

Lee Frederiksen

Guest Blogger

As a managing partner or top executive, you’re probably more focused on taxes than Twitter. Growing your firm, finding great talent and fostering profitable client relationships are probably at the top of your to-do list. But what you may not know is that social media can play an important role in all of those areas.

In my decades of work with accounting firms, I have witnessed the impact of social media on growth, profitability and recruiting. And this observation is supported by the research my company has been conducting into professional services firms. Those that use social media stay ahead of the game. They’re the playmakers, the fast growers.

Social media is important in today’s competitive and increasingly Internet-fueled marketplace. If you’re not harnessing the power of social media, you are missing key opportunities.

The good news is that you don’t need to be a tech guru to put social media to work for your firm. But you do need to understand how and why it’s being used – and you’ll need a basic working knowledge of one or two key tools, starting with LinkedIn.

In this article I focus on the role social media plays in the marketplace and why you may want to consider upping your social game.

Here are six ways to think about it:

  1. Social media is here to stay.
    Like it or not, social networking is not a fad. It’s only going to become more important to firms like yours. For instance, social media is being used today to vet potential employees, expand firms’ networks, nurture prospects, develop visibility, demonstrate expertise and position executives as thought leaders. If you aren’t doing these things today, you will be at some point in the future. The question is, can you afford to be much later to the game?
  2. Your competitors and prospects are already using it.
    I get it. Not everyone at your firm is going to be excited about social media. Even if you or other top executives don’t want to participate on LinkedIn or Twitter, you can still benefit from being on social media. That’s because your clients and prospects use social networks to do everything from research to finding and vetting possible vendors. If your firm isn’t visible, it is missing out on a growing source of new business. In fact, six of 10 buyers use social media to check out a firm before they do business with them. So long as someone on staff is paying attention to your firm’s social media, you’ll at least be on people’s radar. Many of your competitors have embraced social media. If you want to compete, so should you.
  3. It is the new “face” of networking.
    Social media is just another form of networking. You still may prefer to meet with colleagues or prospects over lunch or at an in-person event, but face-to-face networking isn’t the only way to forge connections. Sure, social media isn’t as personal as traditional networking, but it offers other advantages. It’s the perfect medium to build a thought leadership following, for example, and you can use it to reach far more people with less effort. Keep in mind that your clients are using social media to network – if your firm isn’t part of the conversation, they are likely being influenced by a firm that is.
  4. All social media is not created equal.
    Social networking encompasses a wide range of platforms that use different formats – micro-blogging (Twitter), photos (Instagram), videos (YouTube) – each designed to reach different kinds of audiences. It can be overwhelming. Fortunately, you can safely ignore the vast majority of these platforms. If you focused only on one, LinkedIn, you’d cover most of your bases. LinkedIn offers a variety of channels designed with businesses in mind. LinkedIn Pulse is a great place to publish articles, while LinkedIn Groups is where like-minded people gather to share ideas, discuss their business challenges, and offer up possible solutions. Other platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have their place, but you can add them to your mix over time as you need them. When it comes to social media, figure out where your audiences interact and put your energy there first.
  5. Using social media requires an investment.
    Creating a social networking profile may be free, but you still have to invest in it. How? You’ll need a strategy, one or more writers, social media policies, someone to post messages and someone to manage the whole thing. While it’s fine to start small, to make the most of a platform you’ll need to commit real resources to it. That’s when you’ll begin to see a real return on investment.
  6. It can boost morale – and much more.
    If you want your team to tout your business, let them loose on social media. This process has a name – employee advocacy – and it can turn your employees into powerful brand ambassadors. We’re not talking about bald-faced bragging. Rather, it’s a way staff can share industry insights, client success stories, and expert advice. Getting them involved cultivates a sense of “ownership” in your firm. According to our research on employee advocacy, firms with a formal employee advocacy program grow faster and see more benefits than those without one. In fact, high-growth firms are twice as likely to encourage staff to use social networking.

In particular, employee advocacy encourages Millennial staffers to get involved in marketing the firm using a medium they are already comfortable with. If they balk at the prospect of attending a networking event, why give them an equally valuable way to contribute? Our research finds that Millennials want to participate in social media more than Baby Boomers and Generation Xers because it helps them develop relevant skills, differentiate themselves from their peers and boost their career opportunities. And of course, the younger members of your firm can probably teach you a few things about using social media in the process. Win-win.

Social media can help the modern accounting firm in many ways. From marketing strategy and operations to employee development and recruiting, social media is changing the way firms grow.

Lee Frederiksen is managing partner of Hinge Marketing, which focuses on professional services firms.

Henry+Horne Unveils New Look Through Rebrand Effort

Tempe, Ariz.-based Henry+Horne (FY15 net revenue of $21.4 million) has unveiled a new look and communication style after undergoing a rebrand, the firm announced.henry-horne-logo-color

The update is centered on what the firm values most – people. The new logo and colors show that Henry+Horne is relational and knowledgeable while the new tagline, “Offering You More,” highlights the firm’s commitment to going above and beyond for clients, team members and the community.

“Our branding efforts are being used to communicate outwardly who Henry+Horne is. We aren’t your run-of-the-mill CPAs who provide you with a service and send you on your way,” say co-MPs Chuck Goodmiller and Chuck Inderieden. “Our team cares about what’s happening with our clients, each other and our communities. The change was big but the time and energy to make it happen was well worth it.”

The firm’s new website will launch next week at www.hhcpa.com.

Paoletta Joins Marks Paneth as Chief Marketing Officer

Diane Paoletta

Diane Paoletta

New York-based Marks Paneth (FY15 net revenue of $111 million) has announced that Diane Paoletta has joined the firm as chief marketing officer.

Paoletta will be responsible for the firm’s marketing and business development activities, including the identification of market development opportunities, implementation of marketing plans in alignment with strategic objectives, and stewardship of the Marks Paneth brand.

“The past 12 months amounted to a great year for Marks Paneth – from the firm’s expansion into the dynamic Philadelphia marketplace, to the acquisition of two exceptional firms,” says Harry Moehringer, Marks Paneth’s MP. “As we continue on our journey of strategic growth, our marketing pursuits have become equally ambitious. I am confident that Diane’s vision, background and leadership will play a significant role in driving our business forward.”

POUNCE® Team Recognized as 2016 Innovative Practitioners by CPA.com

P&N Tech, the information technology subsidiary of Baton Rouge, La.-based Postlethwaite & Netterville (FY16 net revenue of $57.6 million) has announced that Rachael Higginbotham and Caitlin Lacher, two of the project team members behind the development of Pounce®, have been named winners of the Innovative Practitioners of the Year Award by CPA.com.pouncelogo_pn_2016

The annual award recognizes innovations in process, services or technology implementation in public accounting firms.

The development of Pounce® was a collaborative effort between the application development team of P&N Tech and the marketing and business development professionals of Postlethwaite & Netterville. IPA wrote about Pounce® in a wide-ranging panel conversation on innovation at the Association for Accounting Marketing annual conference in New Orleans.

Pounce® is an easy-to-use, web-based system designed for service providers in the accounting, business consulting, legal and architect/engineer/contractor (A/E/C) industries. The purpose of the system is to provide employees access to marketing collateral and resumes to aid in business development and sales efforts.

The Pounce® team will be recognized in December at the 2016 Digital CPA Conference to in Las Vegas.

Learn more about Pounce® at www.GoPounce.com.

The Next Frontier of CPA Firm Differentiation? Exceptional Client Service

CPA firms once positioned themselves as local, talented providers of accounting services. Marketing then evolved to emphasize specialized expertise in specific industries. What’s next? Two accounting marketing leaders from IPA 100 firms contend the next competitive battleground is exceptional client service.

Mitch Reno

Mitch Reno

Mitch Reno, principal and director of client experience at Saginaw, Mich.-based Rehmann (FY15 net revenue of $116 million), and Leisa Gill, client experience leader at Brentwood, Tenn.-based LBMC (FY16 net revenue of $84.4 million), presented a webinar on the topic Sept. 14 for the Association for Accounting Marketing.

Consistently delivering memorable client experiences, Reno and Gill say, is how tomorrow’s top firms will be retaining clients, growing practices and increasing market share. Now is the time, they say, for marketers to become directly involved in client service. Marketers can take the lead in gathering information from clients and using it to develop a customized plan that ensures clients get consistently exceptional service with every interaction, at every step along the way.

Consider this quote from the CMO of Deloitte, Diane O’Brien: “Marketing has transformed, and the entire organization now needs to be empowered to share the client experience.” (Direct Marketing News)

Leisa Gill

Leisa Gill

Marketers are working hard to build their firms’ brands, but in the financial services industry, the alignment between brand promise and delivery on that promise is low – at a “shocking” 40%, Gill says, citing a recent Gallup poll. The airline, retail and hospitality industries, by contrast, show a strong alignment, and accounting marketers should look outside their own profession to learn about their successful customer service models.

Exceptional service can retain clients, build loyalty and result in larger profits. Reno points out that it costs six to seven times as much to acquire a new client as it does to keep an existing one. In addition, profits can increase from 5% to 95% from boosting customer retention rates by 5%, surveys show.

Reno and Gill shared what one CPA firm partner said about client experience. “Consistency is important. Client needs are paramount. Making it easier for them to do business with you is required.” And a client said, “They have great people who are passionate about serving us, and it shows in everything they do.” Note that the client didn’t say, “They produce great tax returns.” Some experts say that only half the reason clients remain loyal is due to technical expertise; the remainder relates to their experiences with the firm.

Gathering meaningful feedback from clients is key. Reno says he’s conducted many dozens of client interviews, and the information has changed his approach to his work and is persuasive with firm leaders. “Their words are far more powerful than anything I could personally say. There’s no question.”

Firms are beginning to use client information to develop a client experience service model, firmwide standards and training. In the end, superior client service can become embedded in the firm culture.

Gill notes that these programs are not only about the client retention and expansion, it’s also about employee retention. Customer experience training can develop professionals and get them excited about being part of the culture.

SportsTaxMan Sees Familiar Face in New Topps Baseball Card Collection

Robert_Card copyLike many young Mets fans growing up in Brooklyn, Robert Raiola collected Topps baseball cards, buying packs anytime he could put two quarters together. Some he traded; some he clipped to his bicycle so they would click against the spokes; some he treasured.

Young pitchers Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan were his favorites, particularly Ryan, who somehow seemed to pitch every game Raiola attended. Of course, he imagined his own image on a card, but quickly gave up that fantasy.

“I played [baseball] up until high school,” says Raiola, who makes no attempt to mask his New York accent. “I’ll just say the skills were not tremendous.”

But time can have a peculiar way of making dreams come true. As it turned out, it’s his accounting skills that are tremendous. Raiola – aka Twitter’s SportsTaxMan – now has more than 52,000 followers and his own card.

Raiola appears on the 2016 Topps’ Allen & Ginter baseball card set, which includes Major League Baseball players and other sports figures, such as radio host Mike Francesa and actor Kevin (“Field of Dreams”) Costner. “The collection has always been close to my heart,” he says.

Allen & Ginter baseball cards began as a promotional item for tobacco products in the late 1880s. The company says that since the line was reintroduced in 2006, it has become one of Topps’ most popular brands with its old-fashioned sketches, unique materials and unusual trading card subjects (e.g. a CPA). Raiola is featured on four card styles randomly distributed throughout packs of the collection – one includes a piece of tie from his wardrobe.

Raiola is director of the sports and entertainment group at New York-based PKF O’Connor Davies (FY15 net revenue of $123 million), ranked No. 28 on the 2016 IPA 100 list of largest firms in the country. He has built a satisfying career from advising entertainers, professional athletes, managers, broadcasters and coaches on the mind-boggling tax implications involved in making millions of dollars among multiple states, counties and cities. The so-called “jock tax” requires athletes to file taxes in almost every state in which they play.

And for any accountant doubting the power of social media, consider Raiola’s success, not only in attracting clients to his group but also in generating tremendous publicity for the firm as well.

Raiola’s appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter twice this year. He’s been featured in Sports Illustrated and on NPR (with the Beatles’ “Tax Man” playing out the story), but his main vehicle is Twitter. He tweets daily, breaking down the hard numbers involved in players’ contracts, decisions and performances:

  • How much are the Yankees paying Alex Rodriguez, who’s reportedly not playing again this year? For each remaining day of the season, he’ll get $109,290 (without having to pay New York state tax on those wages).
  • What are the implications of the NFL basing a team in London? When the Los Angeles Rams play the Giants in London this season, the players will have to pay 45% in federal taxes to the U.K plus 13.3% to California and Medicare tax. “The players will lose over 60% of their check for that week,” Raiola told ESPN. “I have no other way to say it: That stinks, and the players will say it worse than that.”.
  • Want to know what an Olympic medal is worth? The 22 golds won by U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps have earned him $550,000. Under current law, he’ll pay income tax on the money received from the U.S. Olympic Committee, Raiola says.

And naturally, Raiola tweeted that he was “thrilled to be included” in the new Topps set on Aug. 13, National Baseball Card Day.

Raiola’s boss, MP Kevin Keane, says that it’s a huge honor for Raiola to be pictured on a baseball card, but it’s more than just a great memento. “It really says a lot about his reputation as an expert and trusted advisor to athletes and other industry professionals.” Raiola is a national lecturer on the business of sports and has co-authored the AICPA book Winning Tax Strategies for Athletes & Entertainers.

The back of Raiola’s card says, “More money, more (IRS) problems can be the reality for superstar athletes, but Raiola is there to help.” He has a passion for his work. He enjoys helping players understand that emotional decisions can be disastrous financially, that the best contract is the best NET contract.

With boyhood amazement in his voice, Raiola says he’s receiving cards in the mail to sign. “We all can’t play. I made it in sports in a different way.”

AAM Webinar to Feature IPA Interview With 2016 Marketer of the Year

Rhonda Maraziti

Rhonda Maraziti

INSIDE Public Accounting and the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) is presenting a free webinar to members from 1 to 2:15 p.m. Eastern, Aug. 16: “Driving New Business: Top Tips from AAM’s 2016 Marketer of the Year.”

Rhonda Maraziti, chief marketing officer for Princeton, N.J.-based WithumSmith+Brown, and her marketing team are credited with growing the firm to become one of the largest in the nation. Ranked No. 28 on the 2015 IPA 100 list, Maraziti’s contribution to the firm’s growth led her to earn AAM’s prestigious 2016 Marketer of the Year award, which is sponsored by IPA.

Her presentation will include a brief overview of her career and a discussion about her marketing and business development efforts at Withum, which now has 14 offices up and down the East Coast, from Boston to Orlando, Fla., new practice areas and an expanded management consulting practice.

Rhonda launched the firm’s niche marketing strategy, heads up growth for 12 industry niches and eight practice lines and has been credited with being “instrumental” in the firm’s 9% growth rate. She will share specifics of particularly successful campaigns, including clips of Withum’s 2012 “Party Rock” flash mob video that’s been viewed more than 70,000 times!

IPA editor Christina Camara will interview Maraziti in this webinar to find out how she:

  • Increased brand awareness of Withum in a crowded marketplace
  • Made thought leaders out of partners who head various practices
  • Strategically marketed niches to generate new business for the firm

Rhonda will answer questions throughout the session so participants can gain a greater understanding of her approach to marketing and business development. This webinar, offered at no cost to AAM members, should benefit both entry-level marketers and experienced professionals alike. Register today.

Morison KSi Unveils Brand Identity

Morison KSi has unveiled a brand identity that “embodies its new overarching philosophy, strategy and personality,” the accounting association announced.

Liza Robbins, CEO of Morison KSi, says, “Morison KSi’s branding strategy is to build the brand and the icon as a third party, independent ‘badge of quality’ for memMorison KSi_new logo 2016ber firms.”

The association says the logo represents Morison KSi’s international reach. The symbol consists of a series of connected interlocking blocks that are placed within the borders of a globe. “Orange and navy are used to represent both a bold new outlook and the reliable quality of each of its member firms.”

As part of the branding strategy, member firms will have an “endorsement logo” that they can use on marketing materials and websites. Morison KSi will be rolling out the new branding across all of its marketing materials in the coming weeks. The logo was developed by the London office of Pentagram, a global design firm.

Morison KSi has 163 members in 87 countries.