AAM Announces Marketing Achievement Award Recipients

The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM), the leading trade association focused exclusively on marketing and business development for the accounting profession, announced the recipients of its individual Marketing Achievement Awards (MAA) June 14 at its annual gala.

The event was held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas during the organization’s 28th annual conference.

Jamie Thomas

Jamie Thomas

Jamie Thomas was inducted into the AAM Hall of Fame. Inductees must have 10 years or more of service and be known for their outstanding accomplishments as a leader of the association.

Thomas is a past president who helped AAM navigate through challenging times of transition and growth; served as a member and chair for various committees; spoken often at AAM conferences and has always said yes – many times before AAM even asked for help. Thomas happily shares experience with AAM members on many topics including how to get started at your firm, building firm culture, and so much more.

She is the first non-CPA to earn a partnership position with her firm The LBA Group of Jacksonville, Fla., which was acquired by Chicago-based BDO late last year.

Nicole Sterling was named Volunteer of the Year, which recognizes dedication to AAM, involvement on committees and/or special projects, as well as their professional accomplishments.

As chair of the website committee, Sterling, of RSW Accounting and Consulting of Montreal, Quebec, has given tirelessly to her role, whether it’s leading calls or working nights and weekends with other committees to ensure their sections of the website are working properly. From the new profile badges, to launching the marketer’s library, to building new sections and functionality, she’s constantly finding ways to maximize the ways to use AccountingMarketing.org, AAM Connect and the AAM Portal.

Jeshanah McLeod

Jeshanah McLeod

Jeshanah McLeod was honored as Rookie of the Year, which recognizes a marketer on the rise, who demonstrates distinction in the field. The Rookie of the Year shows creativity, initiative and ambition.

McLeod, of Lancaster, Pa.-based Brown Schultz Sheridan and Fitz, was hired as a marketing coordinator in September 2015. Her performance was deemed to be well above the expectations of the firm as she helped to revitalize her firm’s marketing efforts in her first year, which resulted in her title being changed to marketing director in February 2016. Educating the firm on the importance of marketing, this honoree presents initiatives in a way that helps the firm better understand how marketing initiatives benefit them.

Weiner Named Chair and CEO of Marcum, Bukzin Named Vice Chair

Jeffrey Weiner

Jeffrey Weiner

The executive committee of New York-based Marcum (FY15 net revenue of $412.4 million) has named Jeffrey Weiner chair and CEO and David Bukzin vice chair.

Weiner previously served as MP, a position he had held since 1990. Bukzin held several titles, including PIC of Marcum’s SEC services practice group. He will continue to lead the national SEC practice as well as the firm’s New York office.

Other leadership titles at the office and service line management levels have also been changed.

David Bukzin

David Bukzin

“All of these changes will help support Marcum’s continued growth and better align the firm with others in the accounting industry,” Weiner says. “As Marcum has expanded into new geographies and service offerings and absorbed other firms with their own cultures, it has become more complex over time to maintain a clearly defined leadership system. These changes will simplify things and make it easier for clients and future partners to understand our structure.”

Under Weiner’s leadership, Marcum has expanded from a one-office regional firm of 20 employees to a firm ranked among the largest in the United States.

CohnReznick Adds Three New Members to Its Executive Board

David Kessler

David Kessler

New York-based CohnReznick (FY16 net revenue of $589 million) has elected the following partners to serve as the newest members of the firm’s executive board: David Kessler, Mike Micholas and Alan Wolfson.

The board, including CEO, is responsible for the firm’s business and growth strategy and oversees the day-to-day operations of the management committee.

Each member’s term is three years with provisions for reelection. This year, Risa Lavine, principal and chief of staff, was re-elected to the board.

“As our newest board members, David, Alan and Mike bring diverse perspectives as representatives of distinct regions and industries in our firm,” says CEO Frank Longobardi.

Mike Micholas

Mike Micholas

Kessler is national director of the commercial real estate practice. He has more than 30 years of experience providing audit, tax and management advisory services to the real estate and financial services industries, representing clients nationally

Micholas is regional MP of CohnReznick’s Mid-Atlantic region. He has more than 30 years of auditing, accounting, tax and consulting experience. His responsibilities include developing profitable business opportunities, coordinating federal government contracting work and charting the future direction of the region.

Alan Wolfson

Alan Wolfson

Wolfson is OMP of the fim’s New York office, CohnReznick’s headquarters. He has more than 30 years of diversified public accounting, tax and consulting experience, and provides advisory services to his clients that help them position their businesses for growth and maximize available tax benefits.

The other members of CohnReznick’s Executive Board are: Longobardi, Lavine, Kevin Clancy, Keith Denham, George Klenovich, Michael Monahan, Scott Sachs, Ira Weinstein, Michelle Fleishman (ex-officio), Robert DeMeola (ex-officio).

Grant Thornton Names Poveda PIC of the Albany Market

Michael Poveda

Michael Poveda

Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY15 net revenue of 1.5 billion) has named Michael Poveda as PIC of the Albany market. In this role, Poveda will focus on client service, growth and talent development in the Northeast.

“Mike will do a fantastic job leading our Albany market, building on our investment and momentum in upstate New York,” says Frank Kurre, Grant Thornton’s Metro New York and New England MP. “He brings remarkable leadership qualities, and significant experience in audit and advisory engagements that will foster continued success for our clients.”

Poveda joins Grant Thornton with more than 20 years of public accounting experience providing assurance and business advisory services to public and private companies. In his previous role, he led cross-functional, diverse teams delivering services to clients ranging from multinational Fortune 500 companies to successful startups, and was a partner at Deloitte.

Bolinger to Retire as CEO of Indiana CPA Society

Gary Bolinger

Gary Bolinger

Gary Bolinger, president and CEO of the Indiana CPA Society (INCPAS), will retire on Dec. 31 after 33 years of service.

Bolinger joined the Society in 1984 as field activities director. He was appointed interim executive director in 1990, was promoted to full-time executive director in 1991, and in 1999 was named president and CEO. Under Bolinger’s leadership, the Society has revamped its organizational structure to better leverage volunteers and talent, become more proactive in legislative and regulatory affairs, overhauled its strategic planning process, initiated award-winning diversity programs, and implemented the statewide INCPAS Professional Issues Update, which he has presented for 17 years.

Other major highlights from recent years include:

  • Establishment of the award-winning CPA Center of Excellence®
  • Development of an Integrated Report
  • Celebration of the organization’s centennial anniversary
  • The addition of competency-based learning as an option for CPA license renewal.
Indiana is the first state in the country to do so.

“Gary has been an outstanding CEO,” says INCPAS Chairman John Sauder. “He is the driving force that’s put INCPAS in the pioneering state it’s in today.”

His successor – current senior vice president and COO Jennifer Briggs – will begin serving as president and CEO on Jan. 1, 2018. “Jennifer is well prepared to take on this role,” says INCPAS chair-elect Doug York. “She brings talent in many areas, not least of which is her ability to connect with all our members, regardless what field or stage of their career they’re in.”

Sikich Names Murphy PIC of Manufacturing and Distribution Practice

Jerry Murphy

Jerry Murphy

Naperville, Ill.-based Sikich (FY15 net revenue of $116.6 million) has named Jerry Murphy the new PIC of its manufacturing and distribution practice. Murphy has more than 25 years of experience working with manufacturing companies on assurance, operations improvement, strategic planning, and mergers and acquisitions.

“Our firm has deep experience in the manufacturing and distribution industry,” Murphy says. “My goal is to build on that experience and give our teams the tools they need to stay on the cutting edge of industry developments. This will enable us to continue to address a range of client needs in a time of disruptive change for manufacturing and distribution.”

Sikich’s manufacturing and distribution practice provides accounting, technology, supply chain, and advisory and managed services to manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and warehousing and storage companies.

“Jerry has spent his entire career helping manufacturers and distributors develop creative solutions that improve their business operations and bottom line,” Sikich CEO Chris Geier says. “As the leader of our manufacturing and distribution vertical, he will help us continue to sharpen our expertise and enhance the many services we offer clients in this industry.”

IPA Vendor Spotlight On … Chandra Bhansali, AccountantsWorld

Name: Chandra Bhansali
Company: AccountantsWorld
Title: Co-founder (with wife Sharada) and CEO

Accomplishments:

Chandra Bhansali

Chandra Bhansali

  • Introduced the first Windows-based based professional tax system in the 1990s.
  • Created the first payroll processing solution exclusively for accountants.
  • Used cloud technology to create Accounting Power for firms to offer client accounting services, countering the impact of do-it-yourself accounting systems on accounting practices.
  • Named one of the “100 Most influential People in Accounting” by Accounting Today for over 10 years.

You’ve been “in the cloud” for much longer than most and seem to have a knack for identifying emerging technologies. Can you offer any practical advice on how accounting firms can be more ‘future-ready’?

I’d tell them, “You are your clients’ most trusted advisor. What makes you their most trusted advisor? Your ability to analyze all the facts and help your clients make informed decisions based on those facts. To be future-ready, you need to use this important trait. It’s a fact that migration to the cloud is inevitable. Given that fact, when will you benefit the most from the migration? Should you wait until you are pushed to the wall, or move to the cloud sooner, in a more strategic way, to make the most of the migration?” It’s ironic that many of the same accountants who are their clients’ best advisors falter when making some of the most important decisions about their own practices.

Client accounting services seems to be a growing niche. Are accountants taking better advantage of the power of technology to help their clients?

Very few accountants are taking full advantage of technology to help their clients. Part of the problem is that most accountants don’t realize the capabilities of professional cloud solutions like Accounting Power. Given the choice, a large percentage of small businesses would not want to do their accounting in-house. They consider accounting to be a hassle and would love to offload it to their accountants, but most accountants don’t offer client accounting services (CAS), because functions like bill payment have traditionally been low-margin services. But with programs like Accounting Power, an accountant’s staff can now do everything their client’s staff did, only much faster and more accurately – all without leaving the office. Because of advances like this, many accountants are currently offering highly profitable CAS, which will ultimately become a major growth area.

What’s the biggest mistake firms typically make when making the move to the cloud?

The biggest mistake firms typically make when migrating to the cloud is to make a lateral move in which they move from desktop to cloud, yet their practices realize only marginal gains. That happens primarily for two reasons. First, these accountants don’t do their homework and learn about all the available solutions. Second, they are stuck in their current processes. To take full advantage of the cloud, you need to change your processes. If you keep an open mind and align your processes for optimal performance, then you will be able to take your practice to new heights that were never before possible.

There’s been lots of talk about the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence on the accounting profession. What’s your view?

My view about Artificial Intelligence is very simple – accountants with “Predictive Intelligence” will actually benefit a lot from AI. I’ll give you a simple example. AI will certainly minimize mundane tasks like data entry. If you let your clients offload their accounting work to you today, your fees will be based on what they currently spend on their bookkeeper or in-house accountant. When some of the capabilities of AI kick in to virtually eliminate data entry, that will greatly reduce your staff’s work and you will reap the benefits of that productivity gain. That’s “Predictive Intelligence.”

Final thoughts?

You know you have tremendous influence with your clients. Until now, accounting software vendors and payroll service providers have used your client relationships to make themselves billions of dollars. Would you like to continue doing that, or would you rather use your client relationships do what is in your, and your clients’, best interest? If you prefer the latter option, then download and read my whitepaper, “Forget Value Billing. Think Value Building.”  It will show you how you can use the cloud to greatly raise your bottom line, better serve your clients and feel the pride of being an accountant. Please visit www.AccountantsWorld.com/value to download the whitepaper.

Do you know someone else who would make a good Spotlight? Contact Christina Camara.

Kucera Named AAM’s 2017 Marketer of the Year

Laura Kucera

Laura Kucera

Laura F. Kucera, chief marketing officer at New York-based Citrin Cooperman, has received the Association for Accounting Marketing’s (AAM) 2017 Marketer of the Year award, sponsored by INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA).

The winner was announced by IPA June 14 at AAM’s 2017 Summit in Las Vegas. The Marketer of the Year presentation was the highlight of the 23nd annual gala, which also honors winners of dozens of marketing achievement awards.

Kucera leads strategic marketing, communications and business development strategies for Citrin Cooperman, which is ranked among the top 25 largest firms in the country, according to IPA.

Citrin Cooperman CEO Joel Cooperman, who nominated Kucera for the award, praises her “marketing and business acumen, analytical mindset, motivational leadership skills and innate client-focused approach.” He says that her leadership has contributed to the firm’s significant growth of 17% in 2016, which included the joining of two firms and three new offices in New England, the development of four new consulting practice groups and the restructuring of the firm’s advisory services line.

Kucera led integration efforts for the newly joined firms, developed in-depth marketing and business development strategies for the New England market, formed a new international strategy group and launched a global go-to-market plan with Mark Fagan, MP of the firm’s Norwalk, Conn., office and board member of Moore Stephens N.A.

Kucera played an important role in pulling together a new technology and risk advisory consulting practice. She created a four-hour cross-selling class with Fagan and taught it to more than 100 staff. Finally, Kucera developed an in-house design team and launched a new visual identity for the firm.

“Citrin Cooperman’s brand awareness has grown tremendously under Laura,” says IPA Publisher Kelly Platt. “She’s a great communicator, mentor and morale-builder who has unified all professionals to do their part to grow the firm. She richly deserves this award.”

“I cannot think of a more deserving candidate for this recognition,” Fagan says. “Not only does Laura have a full-scale understanding of marketing principles, she has a deep understanding of the firm’s business goals and works relentlessly to implement strategies to achieve those goals.”

Alan Badey, MP of the Citrin Cooperman White Plains, N.Y., office, says Kucera “gets it.” Her knowledge of the profession, the marketplace and what differentiates the firm “has completely changed the look and feel of Citrin Cooperman both internally and externally,” he says. “She created our brand, ‘Focus on What Counts,’ which says everything about us and everything that our clients have come to expect from us.”

He adds, “Not only is she running our marketing and sales, she is involved with most significant initiatives in the firm – from mergers, to service line restructuring, to staff mentoring and infrastructure upgrades.”

This is the fourth year that IPA has sponsored the Marketer of the Year award. A panel of independent judges, who are themselves leaders in the profession, were selected by IPA to review and score each of the nominees.

Deloitte Study: Only 13% of U.S. Workforce Is Passionate About Their Jobs

Despite 2017 corporate spending estimated at over $100 billion for training and over $1 billion for employee engagement, 68% of the U.S. workforce is not engaged at work, a new Deloitte’s Center for the Edge study says.

Further, the study found that only 35% of the workforce had the disposition to seek out challenges in their organization; even among engaged employees, more than 60% didn’t seek challenges. This lack of passion for work exists at all levels surveyed and job types in the workforce with 64% of all workers and 50% of executives and senior management surveyed being neither passionate nor engaged in their work.

These findings indicate that employers might be focused too narrowly on employee engagement, rather than developing a workforce with the necessary passion to solve complex challenges and pursue new opportunities during this period of rapid technological change. In addition, the findings indicate a shift to new types of learning and collaboration environments could in fact address key barriers to a more engaged and passionate workforce.

“We are in the early stages of a shift in the global economy that will require us to transition from an angst economy, driven by fear and erosion of trust, to a creative economy focused on markets with expanding opportunity,” says John Hagel, managing director, Deloitte Services LP and co-chairman, Center for the Edge. “Worker engagement may no longer be sufficient for performance improvement. In an environment of mounting performance pressure and increasing unpredictability, companies need a workforce that embraces challenge. Worker passion is becoming a key attribute for employees with the skill set that will contribute to sustained performance improvement for companies in increasingly competitive markets.”

According to the study, passionate workers generally exhibit three attributes: long-term commitment to making a significant impact in a domain; questing disposition that actively seeks out new challenges in order to improve faster; and connecting disposition that seeks to build trust-based relationships with others who can help them get to a better answer.

Respondents fell into three clusters:

  • Passionate Employee – 13% of respondents have all three attributes of worker passion.
  • Contented Employee – 23% of respondents score high on an index of engagement indicators, but do not have all three attributes of worker passion.
  • Half-hearted Employee – 64% of respondents do not have all three attributes of worker passion and do not score high on engagement.

The study found that only 38% of engaged employees had the questing disposition, and nearly half of engaged workers also lacked a desire to make a significant impact in their industry, function or specialty. Engagement seemed to have the most significant effect on workers’ tendency to reach out to others to solve challenges and improve their own performance.

Of those employees who are “passionate,” the study revealed the following:

  • 71% report working extra hours.
  • 89% report feeling focused, immersed and energized in their work.
  • 68% are optimistic about the future of their company.
  • 71% feel they are encouraged to work across the company.
  • 67% the company collaborates well with customers.

Furthermore, while position had some effect, with those in senior positions being more likely to be passionate, age wasn’t a significant factor: Millennials don’t have an edge when it comes to passion.

The study showed that respondents who were not passionate reported a lack of autonomy, inability to work across teams and a lack of involvement in decision-making.

Worker passion clearly needs to be “activated” in the workplace. To begin with, business leaders should evaluate whether they are acting with passion in taking on difficult challenges and pushing boundaries in potentially exciting directions. Tapping into this kind of passion can shift individuals from the fear of change or failure – to excitement about the opportunity to test boundaries. Additionally, some workers would benefit from guidance and role models who can serve as practical examples of how to quest, connect and create impact within the context of a specific organization.

The study suggests that trends such as automation, could open up new opportunities to drive worker passion. As more and more mundane, repeatable tasks are automated, the study identified opportunities for existing employees to focus on high growth areas that tap into capabilities that are uniquely human: curiosity, imagination, creativity, and emotional and social intelligence. Ultimately this has the potential to move the U.S. workforce toward higher levels of engagement and worker passion.

Holtzman Partners Welcomes Tax, Audit Partners

Jon Rausch

Jon Rausch

Holtzman Partners of Austin, Texas, (FY15 net revenue of $8.7 million) has expanded its leadership team by admitting Jon Rausch as a tax partner and Rusty Hale as an audit partner.

Rausch, who most recently served as MP of Montgomery Coscia Greilich’s Austin office, joined Holtzman Partners on June 1, and Hale, formerly a partner in MCG’s audit practice, will join Holtzman Partners on July 5.

“Holtzman Partners’ market reputation is extremely strong and rightfully so. I look forward to contributing my experience to the firm as we strive for continued success,” Rausch says.

Rusty Hale

Rusty Hale

In addition to adding four partners and a director to its leadership team this year, Holtzman Partners has also increased the size of its Austin footprint with the addition of buildings at 1700 and 1706 W. Sixth St., on the same block as its headquarters.

Holtzman Partners has grown to 70 professionals, including 11 partners, since its inception in 2004.

MP Chris Perkins says, “The growth of our partner group and acquisition of more office space really reflect our commitment to Austin’s business community and all of our clients across Texas. We’re planning to grow with Austin for decades to come.”