Study: 89 Percent of Finance Teams Yet to Embrace Artificial Intelligence

Finance teams lack the digital skillset to embrace the latest advancements in artificial intelligence, causing a negative impact on revenue growth, according to a new study from the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association) and Oracle. The study of more than 700 global finance leaders found that despite a clear correlation between the deployments of AI and revenue growth, 89% of organizations have not deployed AI in the finance function and only 10% of finance teams believe they have the skills to support the organization’s digital ambitions.

The report, titled “Agile Finance Unleashed: The Key Traits of Digital Finance Leaders” highlights that 46% of tech-savvy finance leaders report positive revenue growth, compared with only 29% of tech-challenged leaders. Furthermore, organizations that have seen revenue growth are more likely to be deploying artificial intelligence compared to those where revenues are flat or declining. However, only 11% of finance leaders surveyed have implemented artificial intelligence in the finance function, and 90% say their finance team does not have skills to support enterprise digital transformation.

“For me, robotic process automation, advanced analytics, and machine learning are three legs of the same stool,” said John Merino, chief accounting officer at FedEx. “The combination of those technologies and the ability to deliver them in an agile manner without long lead times and extensive interface complexities creates a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on some really big efficiency gains in virtually every staff function. The big win for us is to liberate that time and move finance up the value chain in what it delivers to the organization.”

“Businesses are missing out on huge growth potential by failing to give finance teams the tools and training they need to make better corporate decisions,” said Andrew Harding, chief executive of management accounting at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. “Cloud and emerging technologies like AI and blockchain drive efficiency and improve insight and accuracy, enabling finance leaders to step into a more strategic role in the business and improve the organization’s data-driven decision making. To make the most of these new technologies, finance teams need to simultaneously evolve the competencies of their staff in areas such as analytical thinking, decision-making and business partnering.”

Key Traits of Digital Finance Leaders: The report identifies three common traits of tech-savvy finance teams:

  • Modern Business Processes: According to the report, tech-savvy finance leaders use advanced technologies and establish ‘operational excellence’. For example, 86% of Digital Finance Leaders have a digital-first and cloud-first mindset, which gives them greater access to intelligent process automation and technologies such as artificial intelligence and Blockchain, which are commonly delivered via the cloud. Additionally, 73% centralize finance subject matter expertise in a global ‘Center of Excellence.’
  • Data Insights: Leading finance teams are able to connect data that was previously in disparate applications to uncover new insights. They are increasingly relying on AI to uncover hidden patterns, make recommendations, and learn continually from the non-stop flow of business data. The report shows that organizations that have seen positive revenue growth are more likely to be deploying AI compared to those where revenues are flat or have declined.
  • Business Influence: Leading finance teams have been able to move beyond reporting and are using data-driven insights to influence the direction of the business. With reduced time spent on manual reporting processes and armed with accurate and timely data, finance leaders are empowered to partner with the business, recommend new courses of action and influence business strategy.

“The cloud has significantly reduced the barrier to emerging technologies and is enabling organizations to introduce new business models and unique customer experiences that drive additional revenue streams,” says Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, global strategy leader, Cloud Business Group, Oracle and former chair of the Association and the AICPA. “Common benefits that our customers experience once in the cloud include reduced costs and improved efficiency, increased security, real-time and accurate reporting, deeper business insight and better decision-making. The confluence of benefits enables organizations to spend less time on low-value, time-intensive reporting and innovate faster than their competitors.”

The Association conducted in-depth interviews with CFOs and other top finance executives at companies around the globe. Included in that extensive and diverse group of participants were the following Oracle customers:

  • Addiko Bank
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Highmark Health
  • Hungry Jacks
  • Instacart
  • RedMart
  • Rolls Royce
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Stitch Fix
  • USEN Corporation
  • Western Digital

The full report can be downloaded here.

Boomer Consulting Announces Leadership Changes

Arianna Cambell

Boomer Consulting has announced that Arianna Campbell, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, has been named director and will lead Boomer Consulting’s Lean Six Sigma process improvement practice.

In her role as a director, she will blend concepts from Lean Six Sigma with the Boomer Consulting team’s expertise. She has been a member of the team since 2008.

“Arianna is a strong, respected leader and consultant who has proven her abilities to excel time and time again,” says Jim Boomer, CEO of Boomer Consulting. “Our Lean Six Sigma consulting, training and community will thrive under her leadership. With Arianna at the helm, we have tremendous opportunity to fully integrate our process offerings with the other critical areas driving success in CPA firms.”

Dustin Hostetler has transitioned out of Boomer Consulting to spend more time with his family and pursue other endeavors outside of consulting to public accounting firms.

“We appreciate everything Dustin has contributed to the success of our clients and company over the last three years and wish him well in the future,” Boomer says.

Rittenhouse Named to the Leadership Fort Worth Leading Edge Class of 2019

Felix J. Lozano

Fort Worth, Texas-based Whitley Penn (FY17 net revenue of $97.6 million), an IPA 100 firm, announces that audit manager Jonathan Rittenhouse has been named to the Leadership Fort Worth Leading Edge Class of 2019.

Rittenhouse has worked in public accounting for more than six years providing audit and assurance advisory services to public and private companies and has extensive experience advising clients on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). He focuses primarily on the following industries: manufacturing, distribution, construction, non-profit organizations and employee benefit plans.

“It is an honor to be named to this prestigious group and we support him as he continues to strengthen his leadership skills,” says Felix J. Lozano, PIC of the audit department.

Rittenhouse recently participated in a work-abroad program with a Nexia International accounting firm in Melbourne, Australia.

Whalen & Company Joins CPAmerica 

Richard Crabtree

Whalen & Company of Worthington, Ohio, has joined CPAmerica accounting association of independent, CPA firms that provides shared best practices, networking opportunities and access to expert resources for member firms.

Established in 1945, Whalen & Company offers accounting, audit, business advisory and tax services for businesses and individuals. It is the fifth firm to join the accounting association since early 2018.

“We are enthusiastic about joining the CPAmerica association, and look forward to the many opportunities and relationships this will bring to our firm,” says co-MP Richard Crabtree.

CPAmerica is a member of Crowe Global, which has members in more than 750 offices in more than 130 countries and is ranked among the top-10 global accounting networks.

Mazars USA Key Leadership Changes

Tifphani White-King

New York-based Mazars USA LLP (FY17 net revenue of $189 million) has announced leadership changes.

In addition, the firm announces a 9% increase in its annual revenues for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2018.

“Our firm is experiencing long-term, sustained growth, both organically and through acquisitions,” noted Mazars USA Chairman & CEO Victor Wahba. “With such growth, coupled with strong forces impacting our industry, transformation is a key focus of Mazars USA.  We are committed to continually assessing our business and making modifications consistent with our values, vision, goals and strategy. As part of this, we are ensuring that those leading our teams are innovative, inspiring, and elevate performance. The experience and enthusiasm that these individuals bring to the table are sure to contribute to many more years of success for our firm.”

Jim Welsh

Principal Tifphani White-King has been named the national tax practice Leader. White-King will work closely with the firm’s market sectors, advisory and geographic leaders to implement the firm’s tax services strategies, while strengthening collaboration with the Mazars global tax teams. Her expertise includes international tax structuring, transaction planning, mergers and acquisitions, tax provision, compliance reporting, and other related services.

Ethan Kahn

Partner Jim Welsh has taken on the role of OMP in the firm’s Fort Washington, Pa., office. Welsh’s prior leadership experience, track record of results and significant presence in the Philadelphia and surrounding markets makes him a natural fit for the role. He has more than 35 years of experience providing auditing and advisory services to public companies, privately held businesses and not for profit organizations. His clients range across many industries, including manufacturing, freight and logistics, professional services, real estate, healthcare and higher education.

Partner Ron Lagnado will be the New York OMP for the audit and accounting practice. Lagnado has been with the firm for 15 years and has more than 25 years of experience delivering audit and accounting services to real estate companies.

Ethan Kahn became the leader of the firm’s not-for-profit practice. Kahn takes over as head of the practice with the mission of continuing to provide support to Mazars USA’s nonprofit clients in a time of regulatory and industry changes. Kahn has more than 20 years of experience delivering audit, accounting and consulting services to a range of clients, particularly in the government-funded, not for profit sector and charitable organizations.

BKD Announces New MP for Dallas, Fort Worth & Waco

Todd Lisle

Todd Lisle has been appointed MP of the Dallas, Fort Worth and Waco, Texas, offices of Springfield, Mo.-based BKD (FY18 net revenue of $594.6 million).

Lisle succeeds Tom Watson, who has been appointed to regional MP for BKD’s South Region, effective June 1.

Lisle says he looks forward to building on the work Watson has done in the market. Watson says, “I’ve had the privilege to work with Todd as a fellow South Region managing partner and also on BKD’s governing board. I’ve always been impressed with his thoughtful approach and passion for building tomorrow’s leaders.”

CEO Ted Dickman says, “Todd has displayed outstanding passion and commitment to BKD’s Oklahoma offices, and I’m excited to see him further develop the Dallas, Fort Worth and Waco practice unit.”

Lisle previously was the MP for BKD’s Oklahoma City, Enid and Tulsa offices. He began his career with BKD when Lisle Compton joined the firm through a 2006 merger. Lisle has previously served two terms as a member of the firm’s governing board and is a three-time Most Admired CEO honoree by Oklahoma City’s The Journal Record.

Grassi & Co.’s Not-For-Profit Practice Expands in NYC and Westchester County

Derek Flanagan

New York-based Grassi & Co. (FY17 net revenue of $60.8 million) announces that the audit nonprofit partners and staff of Lederer Levine & Associates of Lyndhurst, N.J., joined the firm on Jan. 1.

The acquisition brings partner Derek Flanagan as well as four professionals to the firm’s offices in New York and White Plains, N.Y. The addition of these specialist resources has expanded and strengthened services provided by Grassi & Co.’s not-for-profit practice, led by David M. Rottkamp.

David Rottkamp

Flanagan has over 30 years of experience in providing audit and accounting services exclusively to not-for-profit organizations. His clients include social services agencies, private and charter schools, arts organizations, private foundations and special needs providers.

“Lederer Levine & Associates’ nonprofit practice bears significant synergies with our practice,” says Rottkamp. “The years of expertise brought by Derek and his team enhances our existing strengths and will expand our geographic reach in the region, placing us at the forefront in serving the needs of this important segment.”

Grassi & Co.’s not-for-profit practice team assists many types of not-for-profit organizations, including organizations involved in government-funded social services, special needs, health care, philanthropic, religious and education.

“With the increasing demands and challenges facing the not-for-profit community, adding a stronger presence in Westchester County is another way the professionals of Grassi & Co. are growing to meet those challenges, says Louis C. Grassi, CEO and MP. “As our firm looks to the future, we’re excited to continue to expand our footprint in the New York region.

McKonly & Asbury Takes Ownership in Dale Carnegie Mid-Atlantic Franchise

Camp Hill, Pa.-based McKonly & Asbury (FY17 net revenue of $9.8 million) announces its partnership with Dale Carnegie Mid-Atlantic, a long-standing client of the firm.

On Jan. 1, McKonly & Asbury became an owner of the Dale Carnegie Mid-Atlantic franchise, which is recognized consistently as one of the top 10 franchises in the world by Dale Carnegie & Associates. Founded in 1912, Dale Carnegie has evolved from one man’s belief in the power of self-improvement to a performance-based training company with offices in over 85 countries.

“We see this partnership with Dale Carnegie as an extension of services that McKonly & Asbury can provide to our clients so we can continue to be a true business partner for them. It expands the depth and breadth of our expertise in the areas of leadership, team-building and people development while broadening our footprint into the Maryland, northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia marketplaces,” says MP Kurt Trimarchi. “We are confident that these new service offerings will allow us to develop deeper relationships with existing clients and to open doors to new ones.”

Dale Carnegie designs programs that offer people the knowledge, skills and practices they need to add value to the organization. “For over a century, Dale Carnegie has been improving individual and business performance around the world,” the firm says in a statement. “While their training techniques continue to evolve, their core principles remain true to a single vision: real transformation begins within.”

Dale Carnegie offers programs in leadership, management development, customer engagement, service, sales, communication, and other related programs.

PBMares Welcomes Two New Partners

Benjamin “Bo” Garner

Newport News, Va.-based PBMares (FY17 net revenue of $40.7 million), an IPA 100 firm, has admitted two new partners.

Benjamin “Bo” Garner is based in the Newport News office, and Edward Yoder works from the Harrisonburg, Va., office.

“Both Bo and Ed have exemplified leadership throughout the firm for many years,” says Alan Witt, CEO. “In addition to their commitment to strengthening our practice, they are both committed to strengthening our profession. Their efforts to mentor aspiring young professionals is an example for others to follow.”

Edward Yoder

Garner has more than 11 years of public accounting experience and is the youngest to be named partner at PBMares. He started as an intern in 2007 and now leads the firm’s not-for-profit team and chairs the firm’s Innovation Council.

In addition to serving clients, Garner shares thought leadership as a guest columnist for GuideStar, Virginia Business and the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants’ (VSCPA) Disclosures. He is an active member of the VSCPA and the AICPA, and has won many awards. As an advocate for the profession, he mentors college students on careers in public accounting and their transition into the workforce.

Yoder joined PBMares in 2005 and has 20 years of public accounting experience. He serves a variety of closely held businesses, not-for-profit entities and consolidated corporate entities with multi-state filings. Yoder has delivered a variety of seminars and published articles for the firm. Most recently, he presented on the Tax Cut & Jobs Act covering the complexities of the new law and its implications to both individuals and businesses.

 Legacy Professionals Announces Two New Partners 

Adam Simaga

Westchester, Ill.-based Legacy Professionals, with offices in Edina, Minn., and Schererville, Ind., announces that Adam Simaga and Brandon Wolber have been admitted as partners.

Both partners provide audit services to employee benefit plans and labor organizations. Simaga also works with governmental entities.

Legacy’s 27 partners and principals and more than 145 professionals provide audit, accounting and tax services to employee benefit plans, labor organizations, not-for-profit organizations, governmental entities, medium-sized corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships.