Whitley Penn Announces Podcast Channel: Whitley Penn Talks

Fort Worth, Texas-based Whitley Penn (FY18 net revenue of $114.1 million) has launched a podcast channel, WP Talks.

“We want this channel to be a place that combines information, entertainment and knowledge, where we can connect with our friends and clients alike to discuss issues including market trends, technological advances that could affect accounting, and the tax law changes that have swept the nation in the last 18 months,” the firm says. Whitley Penn employees, clients and contacts, will be featured.

The podcast channel can be found under the name “Whitley Penn Talks” on BuzzSprout, Spotify, Apple podcasts and Google podcasts.

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Grant Thornton and Ephesoft Form Alliance

Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY18 net revenue of $1.9 billion) has formed an alliance with Ephesoft, a provider of enterprise content capture and data discovery solutions.

Grant Thornton now offers Ephesoft Smart Capture® solutions to clients so they can manage unstructured data. This helps companies improve invoicing, accounts payable and contract management. It also helps simplify complex tasks, such as taxes and revenue recognition.

“Today’s businesses struggle with reams of documents and large volumes of unstructured data,” says Nick Vellani, advisory practice leader for the Central region at Grant Thornton. “This creates workflow and collaboration nightmares – which is where Ephesoft comes in.”

Ephesoft offers a customizable platform for both cloud and on-premises architectures, allowing companies to streamline their document capture processes across networks, departments and locations.

“Ephesoft’s patented, supervised machine learning technology reduces the overall document processing time by an average of 65% and increases employee productivity by as much as 400%,” said Ike Kavas, founder and CEO of Ephesoft. “Now we can work with Grant Thornton to help more clients in more locations gain control over their documents and unstructured data.”

Grant Thornton has already deployed the Ephesoft platform for several clients, and uses it in-house to improve the tax services it provides to clients.

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Connecticut Firm Expands Due Diligence Services

West Hartford, Conn.-based blumshapiro (FY18 net revenue of $83.4 million) has established new areas of expertise: investigative due diligence and business intelligence.

Areas of service within due diligence include asset tracing, background investigations, business and competitive intelligence, company officer screening, corporate compliance programs, dispute resolution, expert witness and jury vetting, forensic accounting, opposing party research, tax planning, vendor screening, and in-depth review of capabilities, financial history, litigation history, management team and operations.

In addition, this new service line offers specific applications of investigative due diligence for family law and for law firms. Family law attorneys face unique litigation and mediation issues and require a comprehensive approach to investigative due diligence, and blumshapiro will offer a wide range of services.

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Grassi & Co. Introduces Grant Compliance Services to Nonprofits

Elizabeth Gousse Ballotte

Due to a shift in the need for compliance for private foundations and other funders, New York-based Grassi & Co. (FY18 net revenue of $63.6 million) is adding a grant compliance services team to its nonprofit practice. Principal Elizabeth Gousse Ballotte will lead the team and is based in the New York office.

The team assists funders by ensuring their grantees are complying with the conditions of the grant agreement. The team reviews financial operations and grant reporting to assure that adequate controls and oversight are in place. These services assist funders, typically private foundations, by evaluating the impact of the donations to the nonprofits and their missions and help determine how and where the funds are specifically being used. These compliance reviews offer greater assurance to the funders that the grant programs are operating efficiently and successfully, the firm announced.

“Private foundations have increasingly come under fire for not adequately monitoring their grantees, often due to limited resources and personnel. Our grant compliance services help foundations address this gap, assess their own risk and protect their reputations,” says partner David M. Rottkamp, not-for-profit practice leader.

Generally, foundations that pursue a grant monitoring program work with the Grassi team to develop a compliance review plan and monitor the program annually, either using Grassi resources as an outsourced provider or hiring the firm to implement the program and train their staff to conduct the reviews and provide feedback to grant recipients.

“These organizations make a huge difference to the recipients of their grant-making. My work further enhances that difference and provides the assurance that grant funds are used appropriately,” says Ballotte, who has more than 15 years of operational and organizational consulting and management experience.

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Kaufman Rossin Launches Kaufman Rossin Wealth

Jay Pelham

Miami-based Kaufman Rossin (FY19 net revenue of $77.8 million) has launched Kaufman Rossin Wealth, providing financial planning and investment management services.

The new group will be led by Jay Pelham, who joined the firm last year. Pelham has held numerous leadership roles at some of South Florida’s most established financial institutions, including president of TotalBank.

Over the past several years, Kaufman Rossin has grown and diversified its advisory and consulting business, bringing in experts on specific industries and services including banking, cyber-security and business performance to respond to client needs. Kaufman Rossin Wealth is no different.

“We have deep, long-standing relationships with our clients and a unique understanding of their personal and professional challenges. This new service line is another way of connecting the dots in their lives and figuring out the best way to help them reach their goals,” says Kaufman Rossin CEO Blain Heckaman. “With Jay’s leadership we know we can deliver intelligent financial planning by listening, having candid conversations and offering smart solutions.”

Kaufman Rossin Wealth will offer its services as a registered investment advisor. Affiliate Kaufman Rossin Insurance Services will help mitigate risks through insurance solutions.

“Having spent the last 30 years in financial services and learning more about Kaufman Rossin’s clients and business strategies this past year, I feel very strongly there’s an underserved financial bracket that will benefit tremendously by having a roadmap to follow,” Pelham says.

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Carr Riggs & Ingram Launches CRI TPA Services

Enterprise, Ala.-based Carr Riggs & Ingram (FY18 net revenue of $306 million) has created a new portfolio company to offer tailored retirement plans for clients.

CRI TPA Services will offer third-party administrative services for employer-sponsored retirement plans, with a primary focus on 401(k) Plans, 403(b) Plans and Defined Benefit Plans. They will also provide consulting services on retirement plan best practices, plan design and implementation, and plan corrections.

“By adding this new portfolio to the CRI family of companies, we are able to position ourselves as the comprehensive solution to all of our clients’ business needs by strategically assisting them on a broad range of activities,” says MP Bill Carr. “The goal of CRI TPA Services is to offer the most customizable retirement plan options that best suit our clients’ unique needs. We recognize that every business is different and we want to ensure that we are providing the highest level of all-inclusive support to our clients.”

Daniel Rodriguez, CEO of CRI TPA Services, says, “I believe we are able to offer a different level of service and experience than what people typically expect from most TPA firms. We are committed to making sure our clients receive comprehensive, consistent service built on transparency.”

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Baker Tilly Partner Jonathan Marks Joins AICPA Task Force

Jonathan Marks

Chicago-based Baker Tilly (FY18 net revenue of $578.4 million) announces that partner Jonathan T. Marks has been appointed a member of the AICPA Forensic and Litigation Services (FLS) Fraud Task Force.

The FLS Fraud Task Force serves to foster growth in the Forensic and Valuation Services (FVS) section and increase CPAs’ recognition of forensic accounting services as a growing practice niche by identifying, collecting, developing and disseminating technical, industry, legislative and regulatory issues related to fraud prevention, detection and response.

Marks says, “I hope my extensive experience in the fraud and forensic space will help in identifying opportunities to enhance or develop practical solutions related to fraud prevention, detection and response that ultimately help address the risks facing today’s businesses.”

Marks is partner and leader in Baker Tilly’s FLVS practice. He has more than 30 years of experience working closely with clients, boards, senior management and law firms on global and cross-border fraud and misconduct investigations, including bribery, corruption and compliance matters.

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Skoda Minotti Launches New Practice Group for Startups

Cleveland-based Skoda Minotti (FY17 net revenue of $53.7 million) has launched its emerging companies group, which is designed to help early-stage companies with an array of accounting, tax, operational, governance and investor relations issues.

“Whether it’s transitioning an initial concept into a viable business entity, taking products and services from development to market or securing funding to fuel exponential growth, emerging companies need dedicated, caring partners who can help navigate the challenges and complexities of early stage operations and transform big ideas into vibrant businesses,” the firm announced.

“Our emerging companies group applies the same collaborative service methodologies and approaches we use with all our clients to help startup companies grow and succeed throughout the early stages of their journey,” says chairman Gregory J. Skoda.

The group, led by Marilea Campomizzi and Rich Mazzola, offers customizable service bundles to help clients achieve strategic growth based on where they currently reside in their business journey. Flexible billing approaches also available.

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BKD Red Team Launched to Help Fight Cyberattacks

BKD Cyber has announced the addition of a new service named BKD Red Team to its service line. BKD Red Team is a digital attack simulation that can emulate the actions a hacker might take during a cyberattack. The simulation results are then used in training sessions with the client’s IT security department.

“We look forward to working with organizations to help them better prepare for these attacks by anticipating what a hacker would do once inside their network as well as train their security team,” says Cindy Boyle, partner and team leader with BKD Cyber. BKD Cyber is a service of Springfield, Mo.-based BKD (FY18 net revenue of $594.6 million).

BKD Cyber professionals can perform this simulated digital attack under controlled conditions using the same actions that actual cybercriminals could use to access and harvest data from an organization. This exercise can help assess how a real-world breach would affect an organization. BKD Red Team also can train security teams to more quickly respond to a cyber incident.

In addition to showing a network’s vulnerabilities, BKD Red Team can identify the actual data that was compromised, the firm says. The team can provide recommendations on how to better safeguard sensitive data and avoid costly breaches. According to the Ponemon Institute “2018 Cost of a Data Breach study,” the total cost of a data breach averaged $3.86 million, up almost $250,000 from the previous year. In addition, it takes organizations an average of 197 days to realize they’ve been breached.

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BeachFleischman, Payroll Entrepreneur Launch Contempo HCM

Lawrence Bailliere

Lawrence Bailliere

Payroll executive Lawrence Bailliere and Tucson, Ariz.-based BeachFleischman (FY17 net revenue of $26.9 million) have formed a joint venture to launch Contempo HCM LLC, a payroll and human capital management company.

Bailliere has been named CEO and will lead the company’s growth and strategic vision. BeachFleischman will offer Contempo’s services to its clients as well as provide the company with operational support. Contempo HCM was launched to meet the workforce management needs of Arizona business owners operating in the small business and middle-market sectors.

Contempo HCM operates as an iSolved Certified Network Partner. The iSolved Network is an ecosystem for elite, high-growth payroll service providers utilizing the iSolved platform. Contempo HCM’s cloud-based workforce management solutions include payroll, time and attendance, HR administration and electronic benefit administration for Arizona business owners.

Bailliere believes business owners can reduce the cost and complexity of managing a workforce. “Our system provides real-time data and immediate access to information for better decision-making. We want our clients to focus on their core objectives while outsourcing the risks and burdens associated with the changing employer and workforce management environment.”

Marc Fleischman, BeachFleischman’s CEO says, “We are excited about the incredible opportunities that Contempo brings to the marketplace. It’s locally owned, and Larry is a proven industry thought leader and entrepreneur who will leverage the talents of his team to help our current and future clients accomplish their goals.”

Contempo HCM is headquartered in Tucson and has an office in Phoenix.