Marks Paneth Announces New Service

Dean Nelson

New York-based Marks Paneth (FY18 net revenue of $136 million) has announced the addition of a new technology and digital services group.

Led by PIC Dean Nelson, professionals in the practice will focus on client needs in the areas of technology assessment, data analytics, enterprise integration and architecture, business process consulting, IT due diligence, cloud enablement and digital transformation plans.

Nelson brings decades of experience in developing and implementing digital solutions for for-profit and not-for-profit clients of national public accounting firms and major corporations.

“Expanding our service capabilities in the digital space supports our firm’s highest priority, which is helping clients achieve long-term business and personal success,” says MP Harry Moehringer. “Along with our tax advisors and attest professionals, Dean Nelson and his team will serve as key resources for clients as they continue to face evolving risks, regulations and compliance requirements.”

Based in the firm’s New York headquarters, Nelson will oversee a team of technology professionals who will advise clients across all of the geographies and industries that Marks Paneth serves, including manufacturing, construction, real estate, nonprofit, retail, restaurants and health care.

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Former AICPA Chair Joins Business Learning Institute

Former AICPA Chair Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, global executive director of finance thought leadership for Oracle, has joined the Business Learning Institute to offer a variety of courses on the intersection of emerging technologies and the future of work and finance.

Among her BLI course titles are:

  • Are We There Yet? Why Not?
  • Fingers Crossed Is Not A Path To Double-Digit Revenue Growth
  • Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
  • Inclusive Leadership: Does It Really Work?
  • Leading From The Middle
  • Why Standing Still Is Not An Option
  • Will SkyNet Become Self-Aware?

Kimberly Ellison-Taylor

“Her depth of knowledge is nearly unequaled, and her devotion to teaching and lifelong learning will help BLI clients master the skills they’ll need to succeed in a changing and complex world,” says Tom Hood, president and CEO of the Business Learning Institute and the Maryland Association of CPAs. “The skills she brings to the Business Learning Institute are exactly what we need to help our profession become more future-ready.”

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Ellison-Taylor, who was born and raised in Baltimore and served as chair of the Maryland Association of CPAs’ board of directors during the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Ellison-Taylor’s career achievements include leadership roles at Oracle, Motorola, KPMG, Prince George’s County Government and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. She has received numerous awards and recognitions for her leadership in the profession and serves as a member of the AICPA Assurance Services Executive Committee and as vice chair for the AICPA’s National Commission for Diversity and Inclusion.

Moore Colson Joins Technology and Startup Incubator

Atlanta-based Moore Colson (FY18 net revenue of $26.6 million) has joined Digital Ignition of Alpharetta, Ga., an incubator that provides services to new tech companies.

Digital Ignition was first launched in 2016 as a co-working space, but over the last year, officials have expanded the offerings to include attorney, accounting and other incubation services.

Moore Colson says firm experts are on site during regular office hours to assist startups and established companies with accounting-related support. Staff are experts in the specialized financial reporting, tax and IT control requirements facing tech companies, the firm says.

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Armanino Begins Accepting Cryptocurrency Payments

San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino (FY18 net revenue of $267.2 million) is accepting payment in more than 1,000 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Litecoin and many other altcoins.

Armanino is also offering the firm’s proprietary block explorer and associated audit tools to clients, who include virtual currency exchanges, custodians and blockchain companies. Block explorer works with top public blockchains to analyze transaction and wallet details as well as digital signature validation tools to obtain independent and credible audit evidence, giving clients the most powerful and trustworthy platform for successful audits.

“With more fintech companies, banks and brokerages exploring ways to mainstream cryptocurrency, it made sense for Armanino to build the infrastructure necessary to accept cryptocurrency payments for what we expect to be a growing form of payment,” says partner Andries Verschelden, blockchain practice leader.

He adds, “As digital asset use and adoption increases and new types of transactions are made, such as security token offerings (STO) on public blockchains, the need for third-party assurance tools continues to grow. That’s where our block explorer and associated tools are already proving value to our internal teams and our clients alike.”

Armanino offers a breadth of industry-specific solutions to the blockchain and cryptocurrency communities. The firm has implemented a crypto onboarding service that includes preparing and consulting clients on the best practices, as well as the means to perform transactions in the new digital asset economy.

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RSM’s New National Leaders to Focus on Technology, Automation and Digitization

Chicago-based RSM US LLP (FY19 net revenue of $2.4 billion) announces the addition of Brad Collins as a principal in national tax, and Bob Herman as the national leader in risk consulting.

Collins leads the firm’s efforts to identify opportunities where RSM can streamline tax data management for private equity and hedge fund clients. Previously, he led more than 100 professionals to drive innovation and digitization across a Big 4 firm’s $3.3 billion tax practice.

“Having Brad as a part of the RSM team will be a real advantage for our clients,” says Matt Bradvica, national businesses tax leader and national industry tax leader. “His experience in and knowledge of digitizing and innovating will further enhance our ability to help our private equity and hedge fund clients succeed.”

Herman serves as RSM’s risk consulting intelligent and robotics process automation leader, and will help RSM’s clients become more “digital” in the assessment and performance of risk and internal controls processes. Herman is a director with more than 22 years of experience assessing, designing and implementing internal control and process improvement solutions.

“Given today’s increasingly competitive landscape and the existing talent shortage, robotics and automation will be the keys that help our clients succeed,” says John Brackett, national leader for risk advisory services. “Bob’s experience and insights in these areas will further enhance our ability to provide our clients with the world-class service they expect from us as their first-choice advisor.”

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Areas ‘Primed for Growth’ Being Ignored: Fortune Tech Conference Speaker Says

Hans Tung

GGV Capital MP Hans Tung says the tech industry is failing to invest adequately into India, Latin America and Southeast Asia, where the next billion people will come online, according to Fortune.

“A lot of growth is coming from smartphones, and if you look at where smartphone users are coming from, three places stand out,” Tung said July 16 at the annual Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo.

He said India, Latin American (largely Brazil), and Southeast Asia (especially Indonesia) are expected to be hotspots of online growth, Fortune reported. The capital cities of Bogota in Colombia and Jakarta in Indonesia, as well as Sao Paolo, Mexico City and New Delhi are primed for growth.

Yet, those areas are largely being ignored by the tech industry, he contends. “You look at some of these other emerging markets where the next billion users are coming from, they’re still underinvested.”

He also noted that the users will be young people. “They grew up on iPads. They grew up listening to Spotify. They grew up looking at YouTube. They spend more time on YouTube than all the TV time I ever spent in my life.”

Study: HR Leaders Identify Finding, Hiring Quality Employees as Top Challenge

The third annual Paychex Pulse of HR Survey shows that talent and technology are the two primary factors impacting HR leaders this year.

The report says that a tight labor market, fast-changing legislation and an increasing reliance on HR technology all play a role in how HR is evolving.

“The strategic contributions HR leaders make are bolstered by innovative technology solutions that not only dramatically reduce time spent on administrative tasks but can also provide valuable insights on their workforce and the business overall,” says Leah Machado, Paychex senior director of HR services. “With more time, information and resources, HR professionals are better positioned to successfully address the evolving, complex HR needs of both employees and the organization.”

Some highlights:

  • For the first time, attracting talent surpassed regulatory compliance as the top HR concern. More than two-thirds of HR leaders say it’s difficult to find and hire quality candidates, up from 59% last year.
  • 87% of survey respondents agree HR technology has strengthened their contribution to corporate success, up from 75% in 2018. For the first time, 100% of respondents said that they rely on HR analytics in some capacity.

Sikich Report: Half of Manufacturers Experienced Data Breaches In Past Year

Naperville, Ill.-based Sikich (FY18 net revenue of $168.7 million), in a recent survey, finds that half of manufacturing companies have fallen victim to at least one data breach during the past 12 months, according to the firm’s 2019 Manufacturing and Distribution Report.

Of the 50% of respondents who said their companies experienced data breaches, 11% said they had experienced “major” breaches. Still, executives believe their companies can thwart attacks. A majority (54%) said they are “extremely” or “very” confident in the ability of their companies to prevent or minimize the impact of data breaches.

“Cybercriminals have moved on from focusing primarily on organizations rich in sensitive personal data, such as financial or health care institutions,” says Brad Lutgen, PIC of the firm’s cybersecurity practice. “Instead, they target any organization with IT weaknesses and attempt to turn a profit through ransomware and other cyberextortion techniques. In response to this growing threat, manufacturing executives must make security a core corporate priority and push forward the implementation of preventative measures in their organizations.”

The report found that many manufacturers – especially those with revenues under $500 million – neglect key cybersecurity preparedness efforts. Overall, less than 40% of these smaller companies perform cyber audits (38%), penetration testing (33%), security assessments of vendors (32%) and phishing exercises on employees (31%).

Other findings:  

  • Though a majority of respondents have automated in some way production processes and machining, assembly and packaging, only about a third said they have “extensively” automated these areas.
  • Manufacturers are bullish, but still preparing, for an economic downturn. Only 27% of the executives surveyed believe it is “extremely” or “very likely” that the U.S. economy will enter a recession in the next 12 months. However, that number rises to 49% among companies with $500 million or more in annual revenues. Overall, 63% of respondents are preparing for the possibility of a recession.
  • Manufacturers are mixed on how the expansion of e-commerce has benefited or hurt their operations. Nearly half (49%) of the companies surveyed said they use e-commerce to sell their products. Of these, 39% said sales from e-commerce have exceeded their expectations, while 37% said sales have been disappointing.
  • When asked to identify obstacles to innovation, 53% of respondents cited “finding and retaining the talent needed” as “extremely” or “very” challenging.

Click here to download Sikich’s 2019 Manufacturing and Distribution Report.

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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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BMF Launches Cyber Technology Group

Akron, Ohio-based Bober Markey Fedorovich (BMF) (FY18 net revenue of $19.1 million) has announced a new practice area, BMF Cyber Technology Group, which will offer high-level IT, network and cybersecurity solutions.

The firm, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary, says the new practice group is part of the evolution of its core financial and advisory service offerings. Now, the firm says, “we are better equipped to serve our clients with the skills, tools and resources they need to run an effective IT department while protecting their most critical component – their data.”

Chad Voller

Managing director of CTG, Chad Voller, notes that most IT professionals begin their careers on the help desk, and over time progress to become system administrators and then as department leaders, they’re asked to manage processes, people and budgets.

“They’re asked to do these things with no background or training in executive management,” he says. “No wonder so many IT executives feel overwhelmed, and so many business leaders are looking for more impact from their IT teams. Technology is a competitive lever for any organization, but no tech team can provide that level of insight to senior management when they’re stuck running through service tickets.”

Voller has experience in all three critical elements for improving IT performance and security: operational, management and executive coaching support, the firm says. Working in corporate IT positions and managing a global technology department for a publicly traded corporation, he supported three national and two international locations. He has earned several certifications and consults and speaks on IT operations management, disaster recovery, project and change management.

Voller joined the firm as its director of IT three years ago. He’ll manage both roles while growing his three-person team.

“I honestly think that with just a little sprinkling of success that this could be a really fantastic revenue opportunity for the firm going forward,” Voller told Crain’s Cleveland Business. “It is so relevant for every business out there that we could see this turning into one of the leading books of business within the landscape of the firm.”

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