Grassi & Co. Introduces Cyber and Information Security Practice

New York-based Grassi & Co. (FY17 net revenue of $59.6 million) is offering additional consulting services through their new cyber and information security (CIS) practice, which will be spearheaded by Karl Kispert.

Karl Kispert

Karl Kispert

The new practice helps clients understand risk profiles, recognize potential threats, determine risk tolerance, and create a cyber and information security roadmap and program. The professionals of CIS will assist in three areas: strategy, implementation and remediation, and support.

Kispert, principal of CIS, has more than 28 years of experience in selling, managing and delivering information risk management, internal audit, regulatory and compliance programs, and information security and technology risk management projects across many industry verticals for both domestic and international clients. Kispert, a former chief information security officer, has helped design and sustain information and cybersecurity programs.

“In keeping with our commitment as success consultants, we understand the growing need company owners have to secure their data, and the data of their clients and customers,” says Louis Grassi, CEO. “By adding this new service line, and bringing someone with Karl’s expertise to the firm, we can service yet another important aspect of our clients’ and prospects’ businesses, ensuring their continued success.”

Services will include full security programs, compliance, 3rd party vendor risk assessment, threat management and managed security services. Kispert and his team will be based out of the New York office and are available to service clients throughout the U.S. and internationally.

Baker Tilly Virchow Krause Launches CFO Outsourcing and Advisory Service

Chicago-based Baker Tilly Virchow Krause (FY17 net revenue of $546.6 million) launched Baker Tilly Advantage, a CFO outsourcing and business advisory service that leverages technology to bring greater insight and value to clients.

“We provide comprehensive financial management and outsourcing services so clients can focus on what matters most – running their business,” says Wade Huseth partner and Baker Tilly Advantage leader. “Our solution is unique to each client and features a powerful combination of technology, data, analysis and insight with business advisory services that deliver results.”

Strategic partnerships with leading technology providers enable Baker Tilly Advantage to streamline accounting and financial management functions. Clients have access to real-time data and easy-to-use dashboards anytime, anywhere from any device.

“More companies are making the strategic decision to outsource their finance function so they can focus on their core business,” says Huseth. “That’s where we come in. We have the expertise and resources to provide accounting, operational, and strategic support to help clients achieve their goals.”

Marcum Launches Robotic Process Automation Service for Clients

New York-based Marcum (FY16 net revenue of $449 million) launched a new service utilizing “bot” technology to automate repetitive manual processes and streamline many data-driven functions for its clients. Marcum’s new robotic process automation (RPA) service leverages the firm’s internal experience utilizing bot technology, to help clients reduce their operating costs and improve efficiency.

RPA can be implemented across a wide variety of applications and systems, deploying a “virtual workforce” of bots to perform tedious functions that are time-consuming and prone to human error. Some of the functional areas well-suited to process automation include accounts payable processing, data entry, human resources onboarding, inbound lead processing, report generation and distribution, and web data retrieval.

“In addition to eliminating manual tasks that employees would otherwise spend hours to complete, RPA frees valuable staff to be deployed to other functions requiring human judgment and innovation. It is also a practical and cost-efficient alternative to outsourcing,” says Robert Drover, a principal in the advisory services division and leader of the national process improvement practice. “RPA has limitless scaling capabilities and delivers real and measurable return on investment. In some cases, clients can recoup their initial investment in as little as a few months.”

Marcum’s robotic process automation services cover all stages of development and implementation, including:

  • Robots as a Service
  • Business Process Improvement
  • Robotic Process Development
  • RPA Consulting Services

“Robotic process automation is a must-have in any forward-looking digital portfolio. The continual acceleration of functionality in RPA solutions and the convergence with robust application programming interfaces, or APIs, enables significantly greater efficiency in today’s digitally driven office,” says Peter Scavuzzo, chief information officer and partner. “Given our success with robotic automation and other new technologies in Marcum’s business, the next logical step is to share our expertise with our clients to assist in their own digital transformation.”

“Robots operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and never take breaks, vacations or sick days. They can be executed by a scheduler at pre-determined times, or they can be triggered to execute in response to defined events such as the arrival of email or text messaging and, soon, voice-activated commands,” says Drover. “In addition, we can simulate user interaction to enable bots to ‘read’ error messages and adapt to ‘fix’ problems presented on-screen, to keep processes moving. Continued advancements in cognitive computing will only further enhance this capability.”

PKF O’Connor Davies Launches Administration Services for Cryptocurrency Funds

O’Connor Davies Administration, a subsidiary of New York-based PKF O’Connor Davies (FY16 net revenue of $146.6 million), launched a new administration service offering for cryptocurrency hedge funds.

“O’Connor Davies Administration has deep experience and expertise in alternative investments, including valuing cryptocurrency assets and providing timely and accurate financial reporting,” says Marc Rinaldi, PIC of the financial services practice. “Three cryptocurrency hedge funds already rely on our team to provide fund administration services, and we’re eager to expand our impact in this area with a formalized approach and established offering.”

O’Connor Davies Administration manages cryptocurrency valuation on a fund-by-fund basis based on the fund’s private placement memorandum and specific valuation policies. It provides core services in helping cryptocurrency funds with a variety of holdings successfully manage and value their assets.

WithumSmith+Brown Implements New Integrated Private Client Service

Princeton, N.J-based WithumSmith+Brown (FY17 net revenue of $175.4 million) formed WithumPlatinum, a new integrated private client services strategy designed to serve the financial planning and management needs of high-net-worth individuals and families. The services span family offices, estate and trust planning, cybersecurity, privacy and identity protection, wealth management, insurance advisory, charitable planning, special needs planning, private business advisory and income-tax planning.

“WithumPlatinum marks the formal fusion, so to speak, of the collective and objective deep advisory services for which Withum has become known and recognized nationally,” says Bill Hagaman, MP and CEO. “WithumPlatinum’s consultative and advisory services offer a holistic, independent perspective free of ties to any proprietary products. Our clients’ interests and financial health are our foremost concerns, all based on their unique situation.”

“A recent Withum study indicated cybersecurity is the paramount concern of high-net-worth individuals, eclipsing both terrorism and major illness,” says Hagaman. “We have an extremely talented team dedicated solely to this area who address the exposure of high-net-worth individuals and their families, who are at highest risk due to their profile, wealth and level of activity.”

WithumPlatinum manages what information, if any, is in cyberspace and how it’s related to personal safety as well as the integrity of financial and personal affairs. Services range from an online footprint risk assessment, evaluation of home-network vulnerabilities, standard cybersecurity protocols and a cyber and identity theft insurance review.

“Clients connected to a business as an owner or executive have the option to share WithumPlatinum with key executives to ensure the business – a material consideration in proper management of family affairs – runs efficiently and smoothly,” says Hagaman.

PKF O’Connor Davies Introduces Endowment Fund Accounting Services

New York-based PKF O’Connor Davies (FY16 net revenue of $146.6 million) launched endowment fund accounting services. The solution enhances the endowment fund accounting resources the firm provides to independent schools, colleges and universities, private foundations and community foundations with donor funds and donor advised funds. The expanded offering introduces investment unitization, which streamlines oversight and reporting by centralizing multiple accounts and improving efficiencies internally and for donors.

“We’ve provided endowment fund accounting services to countless not-for-profit and tax-exempt clients for years,” says Kevin Keane, MP. “This exciting next step formalizes our solution with a focus on investment unitization. This updated approach, executed by our experienced team including an entire tax group devoted specifically to the non-profit sector, will really take our client service to the next level.”

Investment unitization consolidates tracking, reconciling and reporting across a large number of separately managed endowed accounts including scholarships. Creating a single, pooled account enables organizations to achieve economies of scale and improve portfolio management and performance monitoring.

PKF O’Connor Davies’ solution harnessing investment unitization services also enhances non-profits’ ability to attract benefactors, including individuals and organizations that wish to establish a memorial fund or other endowment. They provide monthly, quarterly and semi-annual statements, reducing the organization’s internal duties and sustaining an engaged and satisfied donor community.

RKL Launches Human Resources Consulting Practice

Lancaster, Pa.-based RKL LLP (FY16 net revenue of $61.5 million) launched a human resources (HR) consulting practice as part of its business consulting services group.

The practice comprises a team of experienced HR professionals focused on providing solutions for finding, compensating, training, motivating and retaining talent. The group specializes in advisory services that are aligned with solving real business challenges such as complying with complex regulatory issues, filling key leadership roles amidst generational shifts or developing compensation packages that help drive results.

“RKL is uniquely positioned to play a central role in our client’s overall business strategy – be it financial, operational or strategic. This practice grew out of clients tapping into the strong HR leadership we have here at RKL and has taken off from there,” says Edward Monborne, CEO.

The HR consulting practice is led by Danielle Hoffer who was recruited by RKL in 2013 to manage the internal HR function and position it as an employer of choice. A tenured HR consultant with more than a decade of experience, Hoffer served in dual roles for the firm’s internal needs as well as external client service. As the practice has grown, Hoffer has added two professionals dedicated exclusively to the team and transitioned fully to client service in January 2018.

“In addition to leveraging our core team’s expertise in human resources, we’re uniquely positioned to tap into the multi-disciplined perspective of the broader RKL team. This results in meaningful solutions to people issues, which touch all areas of an organization’s operations,” says Hoffer.

The HR consulting practice currently serves clients in a wide variety of industries including manufacturing, professional services, government, health care, nonprofit and others. The firm’s relationship-based service approach and flexible working arrangements allow for solutions that are highly customized to meet the client’s unique objectives.

Prager Metis Launched New Affiliate

New York-based Prager Metis CPAs (FY16 net revenue of $60.8 million) created a new staffing company specializing in recruitment services: PM Human Capital Solutions.

PM Human Capital Solutions will assist clients in addressing the gap that exists and to create a more conducive talent acquisition strategy. PM Human Capital Solutions will provide a full spectrum of finance and accounting recruitment services encompassing direct hire, temporary solutions, contract services and retained search.

The company will be led by Mike Zaremski as president and CEO. Zaremski has more than 20 years of human resources, operations and leadership experience within the public accounting and staffing industries.

“I am very excited about the unique market positioning and rapid growth of Prager Metis,” says Zaremski. “Essentially we are positioned as a recruitment firm that understands the technical aspects of client fulfillment coupled with a relationship-centered approach.”

Zaremski has been a leader and innovator in the area of human resources, staffing and public accounting. He started his career with PwC then pursued a career in the recruitment industry. Zaremski was most recently the president of a NYC boutique staffing firm.

“We are extremely excited to launch this new company in an effort to continue to provide the necessary and required services and advice to our clients around the world. We also welcome Mike as CEO of PM Human Capital Solutions, who brings decades of experience in staffing and recruiting industry,” says Glenn Friedman, co-MP.

Bennett Thrasher Adds New Tax Controversy Service Line

James Pickett

James Pickett

Bennett Thrasher (FY17 net revenue of $47.3 million) of Atlanta welcomed James Pickett, a 29-year veteran of the IRS, as director of its new tax controversy practice. The hire marks the addition of the firm’s third new service line in the past nine months.

Pickett spent his final six years at the IRS as team manager of the large business and international (LBI) division. In this role, he supervised a team of revenue agents throughout several states conducting large corporate audits.

“As someone who was on the front lines leading audits of some of the largest corporations in the southeast, James will be an enormous asset to our clients,” says Jeff Eischeid, MP. “As a firm, we want to offer the most sophisticated expertise and as extensive a range of services as we can. We see adding a tax controversy practice group led by someone with James’s background as essential in the current marketplace.”

The tax controversy practice will seek to help clients resolve matters prior to the litigation stage. Pickett will be responsible for helping clients manage tax disputes involving both field and correspondence audits, post-audit issue resolution, including representation in IRS appeals, penalty and collection notices, claims and other tax compliance-related matters. Pickett will also work in conjunction with Bennett Thrasher partner Tim Kelly, who provides litigation and forensic support for certain civil and other sensitive tax matters.

“I am grateful to Bennett Thrasher for this opportunity and am excited to reenter the private sector and apply my experience in a new manner,” says Pickett. “I understand the mentality of how the IRS approaches companies that it is targeting for noncompliance and that will aid me in assisting the firm’s clients who need these specialty services.”

Deloitte Follows Competitors Into Legal Market in UK

Deloitte is expanding its legal services offering in the UK, following similar moves by PwC, KPMG and EY to edge in on the territory of traditional law firms, The Financial Times of London reported.

“There is room [in the market] for a lot of players and our competitors in the Big 4 are already operating in this space,” said Matt Ellis, managing partner for tax and legal at Deloitte, according to the newspaper.

The Big 4’s legal divisions are already larger than most law firms, but the profession’s leading law firms earn much more. The Financial Times noted that Latham & Watkins in the U.S., for example, had revenues of $2.8 billion in 2016, while PwC earned $500 million from legal services in the same year, and Deloitte earned $250 million.

As part of its plan, Deloitte is applying for an alternative business structure license, introduced as part of the 2007 Legal Services Act, which allowed non-lawyers to own and run legal services.

Deloitte is expected to focus on using technology to speed up routine legal work. “We’re planning to use our technology and advisory skills to transform legal services and help address many of the challenges lawyers . . . are facing in today’s increasingly complex legal environment,” Ellis said. Although he added that Deloitte was not seeking to replicate a traditional law firm, he acknowledged that its legal offering “may threaten some players.”

Several observers said that the Big 4 may be interested in a mid-tier law firm if it ran into financial trouble. Lee Ranson, co-chief executive of law firm Eversheds Sutherland, predicted that at least one of the Big 4 would make such a takeover move in the next three years. “In a significant number of areas and geographies, they are already our competitors,” he added.