Novak Francella Acquires Buckley Frame Boudreau & Company

Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based Novak Francella announced that Buckley Frame Boudreau & Company of Killingworth, Conn., is joining its firm.

“As we continue our expansion in New England, we recognized Buckley Frame Boudreau as a firm that shares our commitment to the market and shares the core values of our firm,” says Peter Novak, MP of Novak Francella.

“We are both dedicated to providing exceptional client experiences through a highly engaged, effective and dedicated staff. Although we already enjoy a strong presence in New England, merging our practices means clients have greater access to resources and staff,” Novak adds.

Robert Boudreau and Gerard Frame, partners with Buckley Frame Boudreau, share the same vision regarding the New England market.

“Our firm has been a proud provider of audit, tax and advisory services to the labor and multi-employer benefit plan market,” says Boudreau. “Merging with Novak Francella will allow us to immediately expand our service area and provide additional advisory and consulting services to our clients.”

Guest Article: Navigating Through Preliminary Merger Discussions

Joe Tarasco

Joe Tarasco

Joseph A. Tarasco, CEO of Accountants Advisory Group

Most merger and acquisition deals typically go through five stages: preliminary discussions; transactional detail meetings and negotiations; an initial agreement outlined in a memo of understanding or letter of intent; due diligence; and the transaction agreement and signing of the partner / shareholder agreement.

Quite often, I am asked what are the pertinent types of questions that should be asked by the selling firm in a merger and acquisition transaction in the first few meetings. The following are some examples:

Vision, Strategic Planning and Future of the Firm

  • What is the vision and strategy for the firm for the next five years?
  • What is the culture of the firm?
  • Does the firm have an annual partner retreat and/or strategic planning meeting?

Partner Compensation, Management and Risk

  • How is partner compensation determined?
  • Do partners have annual goals and objectives? If so, how often are the partners counseled?
  • Are partners held accountable?
  • Describe your partner governance structure.
  • When was the last time you updated your partnership agreement?
  • Do you have partner meetings?  How often do you meet?
  • How is partner equity determined?
  • What are your average partner billing rates? Staff rates?
  • Has the firm gone through a de-merger or terminated any partners in the last five years?
  • Do you have any professional liability claims that have not been settled?
  • What has been your claim experience in the last five years?
  • What is the structure of your IT department?

Succession Planning and Professional Staff

  • How many equity and non-equity partners do you have?
  • Are any partners planning to retire in the next few years?
  • Do you have partner retirement payment projections for the next 10 years? Does the firm have a “cap” on retirement payments?
  • What is your staff turnover rate?
  • Describe your training program.
  • How often do you counsel staff?
  • What methods do you use to recruit staff?  Have they been successful?
  • Do you hold staff meetings?
  • What is your current staff-to-partner ratio?
  • Who oversees scheduling?
  • What is the structure of your HR department?

Partner Marketing Activity

  • What is the source of most of your new business? (If it is from referrals, what types of individuals and companies?)
  • How many partners bring in new business? How many are “rainmakers”?
  • For marketing purposes, is your firm organized into industry / service teams?
  • Are the partners held accountable for their marketing efforts?
  • Do you have new client acceptance criteria?
  • What does the firm do to identify additional service opportunities with existing clients?
  • Have you ever conducted a client satisfaction survey?  If so, what were the results?
  • What is the structure of your marketing department?

Service Offerings

  • What are the firm’s strongest niches?
  • Is the firm known as an expert in any industry?
  • What percentage of the firm’s revenue is compliance vs. consulting/advisory services?
  • What percentage of revenues is assurance versus tax?
  • Does the firm offer financial services? If yes, to what extent?

White Nelson Diehl Evans Acquires Zarrinkelk Kashefipour & Co.

Effective Nov. 1, Irvine, Calif.-based White Nelson Diehl Evans (FY16 net revenue of $23 million) has acquired Zarrinkelk Kashefipour & Co., also of Irvine. The staff at ZKCO, an accounting, tax and business advisory firm, plan to relocate to WNDE’s headquarters.

WNDE was founded 90 years ago and has more than 3,000 business clients and 3,500 individual clients.

“ZKCO is a respected firm in our industry, with a long history of providing high-quality tax, accounting and financial consulting services to privately held businesses and high-net worth individuals,” says Paul Treinen, co-MP at WNDE. “We’re excited to join forces because we believe that it will allow our combined staff to continue to provide a wider array and a more in-depth level of services to a more expanded and diverse client base.”

“Joining the WNDE team will allow us to continue our tradition of excellent service, deep expertise and a supportive environment for our clients and associates,” says Majid Zarrinkelk, ZKCO partner.

Tampa Accounting Firm Joins Prida Guida & Company

Prida Guida & Company has acquired Perez & Company, both of Tampa, Fla. The combined firm’s new name will be Prida Guida & Perez (PGP). Frank Perez Jr. will be joining PGP as a partner of the firm, advising clients on tax planning and preparation.

“Two significant decisions made it clear to join the partners at Prida Guida & Company. One, they hold the same core values I do when it comes to how we serve clients; two, it was important to me that I expand my ability to serve clients through a trusted team of associates. I found both at Prida Guida & Company,” says Perez.

The addition of Perez’s knowledge and experience in tax planning and preparation will expand the firm’s ability to serve more clients and provides the firms growing staff with additional clients to serve.

Montana Firm JOSEPH EVE Joins Wipfli

Milwaukee-based Wipfli (FY17 net revenue of $274.8 million) has acquired Great Falls, Mont.-based JOSEPH EVE.

JOSEPH EVE provides accounting, tax and consulting services to businesses and individuals, with a strong focus on serving tribal governments and the gaming industry. This is the second combination for Wipfli in Montana in three years.

“Through this merger we will continue to strengthen Wipfli’s physical presence in the Northwestern United States, which is a key market for the firm. The combination also presents Wipfli with opportunities to provide an even greater breadth and depth of services and resources to our clients across all the tribal government and gaming clients,” says Rick Dreher, Wipfli’s MP.

As part of this combination, JOSEPH EVE’s professionals, including four partners, have joined Wipfli. Founded in 1983, JOSEPH EVE is an accounting and consulting firm with a collection of 64 certified public accountants, certified fraud examiners, information technology experts and other various specialty team members who provide a wide range of accounting, tax and consulting services for clients in 30 states.

“This combination will result in a stronger practice, allowing us to offer our clients a greater array of requested services, along with the ability to draw upon Wipfli’s vast resources as needed,” says Joseph Eve, MP of JOSEPH EVE. “Joining with Wipfli not only expands our footprint, but it allows us to provide even more robust technical specialization for our gaming enterprise clients, which in turn allows us to meet the ever-changing challenges facing the gaming industry.”

The combined firm will have approximately 1,900 associates and 47 office locations across the U.S.

LaPorte CPAs & Business Advisors Acquires Lanaux & Felger

Metairie, La.-based LaPorte CPAs & Business Advisors (FY16 net revenue of $26.5 million) will acquire Lanaux & Felger of Houma, La., on Dec. 1.

Lanaux & Felger was established in 1979. Once the merger is complete, LaPorte will have more than 180 employees.

The firms will consolidate in a new location in Houma following the merger. Lanaux & Felger principals Thomas Lanaux and Mark Felger will assume key leadership roles as directors in LaPorte.

“We will be able to offer our clients additional services and resources as well as sophisticated technical support to address the needs of working in an increasingly complex industry environment,” says Lanaux.

ADP Acquires Global Cash Card

ADP has acquired Global Cash Card, a provider of digital payment solutions, including paycards and other electronic accounts. After integrating Global Cash Card with ADP’s existing paycard offer, the ALINE Card by ADP, ADP will manage more than four million accounts on a single platform.

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Global Cash Card’s offers solutions for both form W-2 employees and form 1099 contractors, as well as online tools that help customers manage their digital accounts, including online bill pay, rewards plan enrollment, multi-purse capability for providing secondary account holders access to a portion of available balances, and an expense manager that allows customers to organize, categorize and budget their expenses.

“ADP pays 1-in-6 workers in the U.S. and our clients look to us as the market leader to offer solutions that help them better engage with their entire workforce,” says Carlos Rodriguez, president and CEO of ADP. “The acquisition of this established and profitable company helps us innovate around the essential service of delivering pay, and will enable us to provide new tools to consumers that help them manage their finances.”

With the acquisition of Global Cash Card, ADP will become the only human capital management provider with a proprietary digital payments processing platform and will enable ADP to offer digital accounts and flexible payment offerings across their existing base of more than 700,000 clients, while increasing the speed of implementation for new clients.

Doug Politi, president of added value services at ADP says, “As the ‘gig economy’ changes the way people earn a living, so too does it change the way companies need to pay their workforce. We have been impressed with Global Cash Card’s continuous innovation over the years, and are very excited to welcome Global Cash Card associates and experienced management team to the ADP family.”

Bowman & Company Acquires The James Company

Bowman & Company (FY16 net revenue of $9.3 million) of Stockton, Calif., will acquire The James Company, an Accountancy Corporation, effective Nov. 1, 2017.

John James, previously with Grant Thornton, was in charge of their tax department and was a member of the Grant Thornton national tax advisory board. James started The James Company in 1996.

James approached Bowman & Company several years ago in order to find a home for his clients for the day when his eventual retirement comes.

James will be a principal of Bowman as his clients and staff transition into Bowman & Company’s hands.

Bowman & Company has been serving a diverse group of clients since 1949. The firm has eight partners and employs over 50 accountants and support staff. Bowman provides tax planning strategies, consulting services and audit services. Bowman works with family-owned businesses, high-net-worth individuals, agricultural interests, wineries, vineyard owners, real estate owners, affordable housing developers, construction contractors, nonprofit organizations and employee benefit plans.

Spring2 Technologies Joins Eide Bailly

Technology consulting company Spring2 Technologies has become part of Fargo, N.D.-based Eide Bailly (FY17 net revenue of $269.4 million).

Spring2 brings new staff to the technology practice of Eide Bailly, and will move into Eide Bailly’s existing Lehi, Utah, office.

“Spring2 brings additional talent in implementation, development and customization to our team,” says Scott Kost, director of technology consulting at Eide Bailly. “This union further expands our award-winning and nationally recognized NetSuite practice and deepens our ERP and CRM solution expertise.”

“Eide Bailly’s culture and values match perfectly with our own, meaning they have the same commitment to client service as we do,” says Neff Broadbent, Spring2 owner. “Joining teams with Eide Bailly will give our clients access to a wealth of business advisory services to help them grow and succeed, with the same level of service they have always expected.”

“This gives us a much bigger stage to expand our NetSuite and software development practices and attract new clients,” says Ken Berry, Spring2 owner. “Our people will have more resources and more opportunities to showcase their talents. It’s really a win for all involved.”

Cohen & Company and Arthur Bell Investment Industry Merge

Cleveland-based Cohen & Company (FY17 net revenue of $67 million) has acquired Hunt Valley, Md.-based Arthur Bell.

Chris Bellamy, the current president of Cohen & Company’s investment industry services division, and Corey McLaughlin, managing member of Arthur Bell, will co-manage the practice.

Arthur Bell has dedicated itself to the alternative investment community, focusing on audit, tax and consulting services for hedge funds, commodity pools, funds of funds, private equity and other investment vehicles for more than 40 years.

Cohen & Company has a dedicated investment industry services division that is focused on providing audit, attest and tax services exclusively for the investment industry and has a national client base including mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, hedge funds, private equity, investment advisers and fund service providers.

“It was clear from the beginning that both firms love what they do, and it shows through our mutual dedication to our clients. We are exceptionally proud of the talent and commitment of our combined teams, and the enthusiasm and collaboration that went into this process,” says Randy Myeroff, CEO, Cohen & Company. “The increasing complexity of the investment industry and market factors have placed tremendous strain on those in the investment arena. Combining key service areas within the firms has uniquely positioned Cohen & Company to address the multitude of issues that can arise, so that each client can feel confident they are getting the best possible expertise and advice.”

McLaughlin sates, “Our firms share a common vision and focus in the investment industry that is unparalleled. Our combined expertise in hedge funds, mutual funds and ETFs will be a tremendous advantage to our clients that are evolving to innovate and attract new investors. Our focus will continue in the alternative investment industry, with elevated service offerings that more holistically support our clients’ expanding business goals.”

“The scale and ability that our firm now has is unlike any in the industry – enhancing our client service and solidifying ourselves as the foremost audit, tax and consulting firm in this space,” says Bellamy.