Aprio Expands into Indianapolis Market

Scott Brown

Atlanta-based Aprio (FY16 net revenue of $76.3 million) announced that it has expanded into the Indianapolis market. Aprio’s expansion into the Midwest will be led by Scott Brown.

“Scott’s approach to client service aligns with the advisory approach Aprio is known for. Together we plan to quickly grow our Indianapolis presence and introduce Aprio’s comprehensive advisory, tax and assurance services to this market,” says Richard Kopelman, CEO and MP.

Brown has more than 30 years of experience serving as a business advisor and strategist for growing companies across the U.S., with a focus in the Midwest. In his role at Aprio, Brown will be focused on growing the firm’s presence and identifying opportunities to bring Aprio’s robust tax, accounting and specialty services offerings to companies in the region.

BDO Partners with AI Firm MindBridge for Audit

Chicago-based BDO USA LLP (FY17 net revenue of $1.4 billion) and MindBridge Analytics Inc. have formed a strategic relationship augmenting BDO’s existing data analytics and global forensics capabilities through MindBridge’s artificial intelligence platform.

MindBridge’s AI technology enables organizations to analyze various types of transactions and detect anomalous patterns of activity.

“The MindBridge AI auditor enables our team to pinpoint unusual transactions and enhances the thoroughness and precision of our analytics,” says Kirstie Tiernan, managing director in BDO’s technology and business transformation services practice. “Investigations that have historically involved months of combing through millions of transaction samples are now much more comprehensive – yet more narrowly focused – and can be concentrated in just hours.”

“Our relationship with MindBridge is a continuation of BDO’s commitment to helping our clients cost-effectively mitigate their risk of financial loss and reduce corporate liability in a time when data volumes are exploding,” says Stephanie Giammarco, BDO partner and head of the technology and business transformation services practice. “By leveraging the intelligence derived from the platform, we are able to accelerate findings and ultimately, case resolution, resulting in significant cost savings for clients.”

Former Deloitte Chief Planning Big 4 Takeover

The former head of Deloitte’s operations in the U.K. is planning a number of takeovers that he hopes would create strong competition for the Big 4, according to a report by U.K.-based Sky News.

John Connolly, who chairs two FTSE-100 companies and serves on several board of directors, is working with the private equity firm HgCapital on his plan, Sky News reported, and Cogital Group is the newly established vehicle to create the new professional services firm. “Sources said that Blick Rothenberg, a London-based provider of accounting, audit and tax services in which Hg invested last month, would ultimately become part of Cogital Group,” Sky News says.

Connelly would become chair of the new venture to challenge the Big 4 in light of criticism that Deloitte, KPMG, Ernst & Young and PwC have a “stranglehold” on services to big companies. Even with mandatory auditor rotation, some say the major companies are simply rotating among the four.

Blick Rothenberg boasts of its “strong reputation for advising entrepreneurs” and “market-leading inward investment practice dedicated to supporting overseas businesses seeking to grow and develop in the UK and beyond,” Sky News reported.

Announcing the deal last month, the two parties said it was “in line‎ with HgCapital’s proven, sector-focused approach of investing in leading regulatory-driven businesses in and around the accounting and tax compliance space. The firm demonstrates many of the business model characteristics that HgCapital looks for, including strong client loyalty, high levels of recurring revenue, and high cash flow generation.‎”

Sky News says HgCapital declined to comment on the plan for Cogital Group, while Connolly could not be reached for comment.

Ohio Accounting Firm Long Schaefer Joins CPAsNET

Merger-imageLong Schaefer & Company of Cincinnati has decided to join CPAsNet, a network of accounting firms.

The firm says fewer than 30 U.S. firms are invited to join the organization. CPAsNET represents more than 120 firms in 93 countries all over the world.

Long, Schaefer & Company, Inc. was selected based on a number of criteria, including the expertise and business acumen they provide to their clients in the Cincinnati area, the firm announced. Through their membership in CPASNET, they are able to provide their clients with the multitude of resources.

“Long Schaefer & Company, Inc. is committed to offering innovative business solutions and accounting guidance at an exceptional value. Learning what other successful firms are doing will enhance our ability to succeed,” says Michael Long, partner at Long, Schaefer & Company.

Founded in 1981, Long, Schaefer & Company offers a broad range of services for business owners, executives and independent professionals. Key practice areas include estate planning, personal financial planning, succession planning, non-profit, tax preparation and planning, strategic business planning and QuickBooks services.

Marks Paneth Adds Depth to its Private Client Group Through Merger

Connection Through PeopleNew York-based Marks Paneth (FY15 net revenue of $110.9 million) has announced that the personnel of Kranz & Company of New York have joined the firm, bringing 13 new professionals to the firm and deepening its talent base across the high-net-worth and corporate tax practices.

Marks Paneth also recently announced that it has merged in six partners and 14 staff of MDG LLC of Jenkintown, Pa., to expand its presence into the Philadelphia marketplace.

Since 1973, Kranz & Company has provided high-net-worth, corporate tax and family office services to its diverse client base – which includes high-net-worth and self-employed individuals, privately held businesses, private foundations, and trusts and estates.

“We are delighted about bringing on Kranz & Company’s talent. Our combined client base will benefit tremendously from our depth of expertise,” says Steven Eliach, PIC of the firm’s tax services. “The combination also serves as a testament to one of the key pillars of our firm’s strategic vision: being the best, not necessarily the biggest, in our primary markets – and this addition to our private client group certainly moves us forward on that front.”

Diane Kranz, MP of Kranz & Company LLP, says, “Marks Paneth’s proven commitment to excellence in client service, their genuine devotion to the community and their dedication to professional development align perfectly with Kranz & Company’s values. This combination of forces guarantees continuity of service for our clients and professionals – and we will always be there to support their needs.”

Indiana Allows Competency-Based CPE for CPA License

News_7.15The Indiana Board of Accountancy has unanimously approved competency-based education to count toward CPA license renewal. It marks the first time in U.S. CPA profession history that competency-based, and not hours-based, education has been permanently approved.

“July 15 is a watershed occasion for the CPA profession not only in Indiana, but nationally as well,” says Indiana CPA Society President & CEO Gary Bolinger. “While this is a significant first step in reforming the CPA license renewal process, we still have a lot to learn as we go forward to ensure relevant education options for CPAs and protection of the public. And make that education more useful, valuable and relevant not only for the CPAs themselves, but in serving their clients and employers.”

The rule proposal adds two new options for obtaining the required ethics education that all CPAs licensed in Indiana must get every three years. The first new option is to take a competency-based course, with completion measured by participation, not the length of time it takes to complete. The second new option is to earn credit for experience serving in a non-compensated ethics capacity for a professional or trade organization. The traditional, four-hour classroom course will remain as the third option.

Competency-based learning is a method of education in which participants receive credit by demonstrating the mastery of subject material, instead of by counting hours spent in a classroom. This method also offers other benefits such as flexibility, ability to work at one’s own pace, and personalization. It is learner-focused and viewed as a more effective means of skill development.

Continuing professional education in the CPA profession nationwide has been hours-based since becoming required nearly 50 years ago, meaning that education is measured by the number of hours spent in a classroom or webinar.

Indiana’s rule proposal was originally introduced in August 2015. It was approved by the Indiana Board of Accountancy in November 2015. After going through the rule promulgation process, it was adopted July 15, 2016. The final steps in the process are approval by the Attorney General’s Office and signing by Gov. Mike Pence, which are likely to occur within the next 30 to 45 days.

“Using a competency-based approach to ethics education, CPAs will demonstrate that they have both acquired and applied the knowledge they have learned,” says John Kane, chair of the Indiana Board of Accountancy.

The CPA Center of Excellence®, which is powered by the Indiana CPA Society, has developed a competency-based, online interactive course on ethics. The course will soon be available to CPAs who want to take advantage of this new option for ethics education in Indiana.

“The course we’ve developed is both unique and innovative,” says CPA Center of Excellence® strategist Jess Halverson Bowyer. “It was created by experts in ethics education and has been tested and very favorably reviewed by several leading Indiana CPAs. We are excited and proud to offer this product to the CPA profession, and for it to be recognized as the first competency-based course in the history of the CPA profession to officially count for credit.”

Although the CPA Center of Excellence® specializes in competency-based learning, both the CPA Center of Excellence® and the Indiana CPA Society also strongly support experience in the forms of hands-on work, on-the-job training and mentoring as an effective form of education. Experience of this nature has also never counted as credit toward CPA license renewal in Indiana.

Plante Moran Admits Olejnik as Leader of Energy Practice

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Martin Olejnik

Southfield, Mich.-based Plante Moran (FY15 net revenue of $465.7 million) admitted Martin Olejnik as the leader of its energy practice.

Olejnik, an audit and business advisory partner with the firm, has focused on the energy industry since he first joined Plante Moran in 1997. In his new role, he will oversee a team of energy specialists advising clients on matters including accounting and financial statement disclosure, tax strategies, regulatory matters and operational consulting. In addition to his increased focused on energy, Olejnik will also continue to serve clients in the manufacturing and distribution and government sectors.

“Martin’s outstanding expertise and straightforward approach with clients serves him well when advising those working in an industry that changes as much as energy,” says Brad Virkus, leader of Plante Moran’s real estate and construction practice. “He brings a great passion for the energy industry and an appreciation for the specialized needs of clients in this area.”

Baker Tilly Admits Peric as State and Local Tax Leader

Peric_Gary_BakerTilly_2016

Gary Peric

Chicago-based Baker Tilly Virchow Krause  (FY15 net revenue of $478.1 million) admitted Gary Peric as the firm leader for its SALT practice.

In this role, Peric is responsible for expanding and overseeing the SALT practice in Baker Tilly’s national tax services group. He is based in the firm’s Chicago headquarters.

“After talking with Gary and seeing his experience included establishing a SALT group for a previous firm that grew to a successful practice, we knew he would be an excellent leader for our team,” says Joseph O’Neill, Baker Tilly tax MP. “We’re excited to see what he will accomplish with our already-strong practice.”

Peric has more than 20 years of experience working in state and local tax. He has been an MP and led SALT practices for large, international accounting and advisory firms. Most recently, he founded State Tax Foundation, which enabled him to identify and disseminate in a non-partisan manner significant tax insights to increase taxpayer literacy via public speaking and social media.

“Baker Tilly has a solid reputation in state and local taxation,” says Peric. “I’m looking forward to building an even more robust practice on that foundation.”

Rendziperis Joins Weaver as Director in Charge of State and Local Income Tax

Rendziperis_George_Weaver_2016

George Rendziperis

George Rendziperis has joined Fort Worth, Texas-based Weaver (FY15 net revenue of $95.1 million) as director in charge of state and local income tax in Weaver’s tax and strategic business services practice. He is based in the firm’s Austin, Texas, office.

Rendziperis brings to Weaver more than 15 years of experience in counseling clients on a variety of state and local tax issues, including multistate tax planning, consultation, implementation and compliance. He is experienced in the areas of income/franchise tax, sales and use taxes, excise and property taxes, and incentives and credits.

“George’s combined tax and legal expertise makes him a good fit for Weaver,” says Clint Siddons, COO of Weaver’s tax and strategic business services. “This allows us to serve the specific needs of our clients as they deal with specific state and local income tax issues.”

The DataFlow Group Announces Global Affiliation with NASBA

 The DataFlow Group, a leading global provider of specialized Primary Source Verification (PSV) solutions, background screening and immigration compliance services, announced a new strategic relationship with NASBA. Under the agreement, the DataFlow Group will assist NASBA and its member Boards of Accountancy by verifying the professional experience of international applicants for the U.S. CPA license. The NASBA Experience Verification Service launched on April 13.

Douglas Nairne, CEO of the DataFlow Group, says, “We support NASBA’s goal of improving the effectiveness of accounting regulators and practitioners worldwide. Our collaboration will expand DataFlow’s existing portfolio, which focuses on health care and immigration, to include NASBA’s stakeholders in the financial services sector.”

“The assistance from DataFlow allows us to provide a much-needed service for international CPA candidates while ensuring that proper professional experience is verified,” says Ken Bishop, president and CEO of NASBA.