Fust Charles Chambers Admits Nicole Woodall as Partner

Nicole Woodall

Fust Charles Chambers of Syracuse, N.Y. (FY18 net revenue of $11.4 million) announced that Nicole Woodall has been admitted as partner in its tax practice.

Woodall has over 20 years of experience in the public accounting industry, specializing in ASC 740 financial reporting and federal, state and international tax planning and compliance.

Eide Bailly Admits 26 to Partnership

Eide Bailly (FY19 net revenue of $341.7 million) admitted the following 26 partners effective May 1:

  • Kristin Cornell, audit and assurance, Salt Lake City
  • Blake Ellefson, audit and compliance, Fargo, N.D.
  • Jamie Fay, audit, Mankato, Minn.
  • Brooke Forstner, tax planning, consulting and compliance, Mankato, Minn.
  • Dennen Gamradt, tax, Billings, Mont.
  • Scott Haberman, tax, Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Edie Hanson, assurance, Billings, Mont.
  • Laura Hartwig, tax planning and compliance, Boise, Idaho
  • Elliot Hitt, tax, Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • Julie Jeffrey, estate planning, Phoenix
  • Paul Kane, audit and assurance, Denver
  • Amy Lai, tax compliance, transactional planning and consulting, Denver
  • Dan Martin, audit, accounting and consulting, Las Vegas
  • John Nelson, tax, Minneapolis
  • Craig Nyhus, tax consulting and compliance, Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • Jason Oelrich, tax credit consulting, Tulsa, Okla.
  • Bobby Patel, assurance, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
  • James Ramsey, accounting, assurance and advisory, Sacramento
  • Brad Rockabrand, audit, policy and internal controls, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
  • David Rygh, tax, Fargo, N.D.
  • Chantal Stennerson, wealth transition compliance, Fargo, N.D.
  • Dave Studebaker, audit and accounting, Denver
  • Melissa Webb, tax consulting and compliance, Spokane, Wash.
  • Tiffany Williamson, audit, Reno, Nev.
  • Scott Zeligson, tax, Tulsa, Okla.
  • Cameron Zent, audit and accounting, Aberdeen, S.D.

“It is exciting to continually bring new talent, ideas and energy into the partnership,” says CEO and MP Dave Stende. “All of these people are very deserving, and we look forward to their contributions for a long time to come.”

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Sensiba San Filippo Adds New R&D Service Line, Admits Two Partners

Pleasanton, Calif.-based Sensiba San Filippo (FY18 net revenue of $30.1 million) has introduced a new research and development (R&D) tax credit services practice.

Launched in late March and led by Cole Marr as director and Ariane Woods as manager – both former R&D tax credit specialists at Hull & Knarr – the new practice is designed to help organizations quickly learn how to efficiently maximize their credit claims.

“I am excited to welcome Cole and Ariane to the firm and look forward to seeing their work reap dividends for our clients across the industry,” says MP John Sensiba. “Their combined experience, knowledge and enthusiasm will be an incredible value-add to clients seeking these important services.”

The firm has also admitted Jarrett Warner and Santos Solano as partners effective May 1. Warner has been with the firm since 2016, specializing in tax planning and compliance services for privately held companies in the manufacturing, distribution, real estate and construction industries. Solano is a nine-year veteran of the firm with nearly 16 years of experience in tax planning and compliance for partnerships, S and C Corporations and individuals.

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BKD Takes on Part of Grant Thornton’s Municipal Government Audit Practice

Springfield, Mo.-based BKD LLP (FY18 net revenue of $662.9 million) has reached an agreement with Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY18 net revenue of $1.87 billion) to acquire a portion of the latter’s municipal government audit practice, most of which is based in Texas and Oklahoma. BKD will also acquire several not-for-profit (NFP), commercial and benefit plan clients in the transaction, providing a boost to one of the firm’s fastest-growing niches.

As part of the deal, BKD is admitting three new partners: Ben Kohnle joined the firm’s Dallas office effective April 1; Angie Dunlap will join the Houston office on June 15; and Dan Barron will join the Dallas office on Aug. 15.

“We’re excited about the clients that Ben, Dan and Angie will bring to BKD, and we also see tremendous promise in their abilities to help us grow our public sector practice, especially with large cities and public universities,” says BKD CEO Ted Dickman. “The South region’s public sector and NFP practice has grown nearly 14% in FY 2020 so far, and adding this new talent will help us maintain our momentum into 2021 and beyond.”

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Kerber Eck & Braeckel Admits New Milwaukee Partner

Scott Marr

Springfield, Ill.-based Kerber Eck & Braeckel (FY19 net revenue of $29.6 million) has admitted Scott Marr as partner.

Marr has worked from the firm’s Milwaukee office for nearly 15 years, providing tax, audit and consulting services to a variety of high-net-worth individuals, closely held businesses and non-profits.

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Managing Partner Viewpoints from the Archives, Part II: Motivating Partners, Fostering Consensus

Nothing about the job of the MP is easy. The internal and external challenges are many and the pace of change slow and fraught with complications. People issues can be the prickliest to manage, since by definition the MP solves the problems no one else will.

These were among the many observations to emerge from the anonymous, candid responses of more than 70 MPs to a brief survey from INSIDE Public Accounting awhile back that shed welcome light on some of the most common frustrations and rewards they have experienced in the position. During this current period of uncertainty in the profession, their insights on some of the specific topics from that survey seem worth revisiting.

Partner Motivation

Partners are driven in their work by different things – be it money, recognition, prestige, respect or some combination of these – which is why MPs say a one-size-fits-all motivation theory simply won’t work. But getting to know partners on a “deep personal level” can draw out what motivates them, one MP says.

Many MPs say partners must be involved in setting firm goals, but they also need to be pushed and held accountable. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to balance the needs of individuals with the greater good of the firm, “especially if those actions don’t involve client service,” one MP says. It’s no surprise, then, that more than one MP commented in regard to the challenge of partner motivation: “It’s like herding cats.”

Beyond that common refrain, some of the MPs’ non-feline observations on the topic are applicable to a variety of situations, including:

“I wish someone had told me that most partners are happy with the status quo.”

“Sometimes it’s impossible to motivate partners. You can take away money, prestige, etc., but with today’s personnel shortage, they can just leave and someone will take them on at the same pay rate and benefit level.”

“Most CPAs are hardwired pessimists.”

“Figuring out what motivates them is challenging enough. Once you do that, you have to figure out how to best motivate them and keep the motivating factors aligned with the strategic plans of the firm.”

“Money is the No. 1 motivator that they don’t totally control. All else is based on self-motivation.”

“Not every partner is as successful as they think they are. Find what they need to keep working on, otherwise they coast.”

“Don’t spend time on the naysayers. Move on. Work with those who are enthusiastic and want to make it work. Recognize them, share the results and communicate often. Those who are naysayers will usually come around and adapt.”

“Use guaranteed payments and bonuses as the primary form of compensation rather than draws and distributions.”

“As much as individual partners will agree with required policy or necessary change, when the change touches them, the resistance can be as significant as one who overtly disagrees. The amount of managing partner time and energy necessary to maintain partner buy-in is significant.”

The Importance (and Limitations) of Consensus

When it comes to making big decisions, some MPs seek complete consensus on a range of issues, while some prefer to act quickly and inform partners afterward, and others only go to partners for big decisions. Many MPs said a small, efficient executive committee helps tremendously when the partner group gets too large, with one noting that a “democratic, very inclusive decision process” only works well if the partner group is eight or less.

The first thing an MP must do is determine which issues require consensus. One MP says, “I find the balance by deciding how much consensus to get, based on the issue. It is rarely good to make any decision quickly AND without consulting at least someone or a few persons. That said, sometimes time is of the essence and after at least a brief gut check with one or two others, you have to make the decision and prepare yourself to defend it without changing directions.”

Different MPs, not surprisingly, have different approaches to decision-making in their firms:

“We have set agreements and PICs of certain areas. They can make all decisions over their area and only certain decisions need an all-partner vote.”

“Only large decisions like new partner promotions and a merger or acquisition go to the full partner group. Some partners push back as they feel like they should have a say on all decisions, but that’s just not realistic. We have to get the work done.”

“I seek complete agreement. Will discuss to reach agreement among the group.”

“Communicate. Give everyone the opportunity to voice their opinions, but it must be clear that the MP will do what he/she believes is best for the firm given the fact that the MP knows more about the inner workings of the firm than anyone else in the group. It’s important that partners understand that it’s OK to not agree with the MP’s decisions, but they must accept them and allow the MP to do his or her job.”

One MP warns that consensus is not always best. “Sometimes decisions have to be made that are not popular. Many times decisions directly affect specific partners and they are probably not going to like the result. You are not the managing partner because you always please everyone. You are in that position because your partners trust you and your decision-making with their livelihood.”

Communication is, as always, a critical part of a well-functioning partner group. One-on-one time with partners is important to explain the whys and hows of issues that require tough decisions. MPs appreciate the ability to talk with a few partners who are willing to serve as a sounding board before decisions are made. There’s no such thing as over-communicating, and patience is key. As one MP put it, “Change is slower than you want it to be and never as easy as you expect it to be.”

From finding ways to motivate their people to determining how to best arrive at key decisions amid trying times and challenging circumstances, these are insights that many MPs may find worth revisiting in the here and now.

Grassi Admits Rozleen Giwani as Partner

Rozleen Giwani

New York-based Grassi & Co. (FY18 net revenue of $63.6 million) announces that Rozleen Giwani has been admitted as a partner in its tax practice.

Drawing on her knowledge of grantor-retained annuity trusts, complex and simple trusts, gift tax compliance and estate tax law, Giwani will advise high-net-worth clients on tax savings vehicles, wealth preservation strategies, gifting and trusts.

Prior to joining Grassi, Giwani was a tax partner at a New York-based regional public accounting firm working largely in the financial services sector.

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HORNE Admits Two to Partnership

Ridgeland, Miss.-based HORNE (FY18 net revenue of $91.3 million) has admitted Alethia Thomas and Lee Klein III into the firm’s partnership.

Thomas is a partner in government services. She is responsible for assisting government agencies with planning, managing and implementing programs funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grants for disaster recovery. She has experience in project oversight, policy and procedure development, and compliance.

Klein specializes in the construction industry, providing assurance services, tax strategy and consulting services, and management advisory services related to bonding and job costing.

PBMares Admits Two Partners to Lead Retirement Plan Services Team

Gary Kitts

Gary Kitts

Newport News, Va.-based PBMares (FY18 net revenue of $41.4 million) has admitted two partners to lead the retirement plan services team – Gary Kitts and Cindy Kochersperger, based in Norfolk, Va.

CEO Alan Witt says, “Their years of experience combined with their technical and industry knowledge will undoubtedly aid our growth. They are problem-solvers and solution-providers and are valued resources for PBMares’ clients seeking retirement plan design, administration and audit services.”

Kitts has more than 25 years of experience, including leadership of a retirement plan third-party administration practice serving more than 1,200 plans. Areas of expertise include compliance services and employee benefit plan audits under the laws and regulations of the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974, or ERISA, the IRS and the Department of Labor.

Kochersperger has more than 20 years of public accounting experience including service as a partner in retirement plan administration. Focusing on 401(k) and profit-sharing plans for businesses of all sizes, she consults with clients on plan design and provides ongoing assistance with plan administration and compliance. Areas of expertise include daily valuation products, investment platforms and traditional balance forward plans.

The expanded PBMares practice includes administration services, benefit plan-related tax compliance services and a portion of its employee benefit plan audit services.

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Herbein + Company Admits Jeff Johns Jr. as Partner

Jeff Johns

Reading, Pa.-based Herbein + Company announces that Jeff Johns Jr. has been admitted as a partner in its financial outsourcing solutions division.

The division provides risk management services to financial institutions. He will oversee IT risk management services and provide expertise in data mining for audit teams and clients.

Previously, he was employed at a public accounting firm performing year-end audits, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and information technology control assessments.

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