Two Georgia Firms Unite to Become Heaven and Alvarez LLC

Heaven and Associates of Norcross, Ga., and Alvarez CPA and Associates of Berkeley Lake, Ga., have merged to become Heaven and Alvarez.

Ranae Heaven and Carlos Alvarez are the firm’s only two partners.

“The merger brings together two established accounting firms and creates a genuine alternative to the regional and mid-sized accounting firms in the metro-Atlanta marketplace,” Heaven said in a statement. “The culture of both firms is highly compatible, with similar client service delivery models that focus on a value-based personal service approach.

The firm will be located at 4720 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. in Norcross and have about 10 staff.

“I sought to merge with a similarly growing firm to expand the services offered to my clients, and also have the added benefit of tapping into Gwinnett County’s large Spanish-speaking population,” Alvarez said in a statement.

Davis & Company CPAs Admits Divis as Partner

Christa Divis

Christa Divis

Davis & Company CPAs of Mount Pleasant, S.C., announces that Christa Divis is joining the practice as a partner.

Divis has extensive financial and accounting background in the area of nonprofits. She has recently served as vice president of finance and CFO for the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina and previously as the CFO of Trident United Way in the areas of financial oversight, investment portfolio management and human resources management.

Previously, she was a manager of tax and consulting with CPA firm specializing in non-profit assurance engagements. Her experience included managing audits, reviews, tax and consulting engagements for those non-profit clients.

“Christa has the right mix of skills, talents and knowledge to add and build on the value we bring to our clients and community,” says MP Zoe Davis.

Perelson Weiner Announces New Partner and Managing Director

New York-based Perelson Weiner (FY17 net revenue of $25.3 million) announced that Jay Scheidlinger and Lauren Jones have joined the firm’s trust and estates practice.

“Our work with clients involves a common theme – taking a comprehensive view of personal, business, family and philanthropic values,” says Ronald G. Weiner, chairman of the firm. “With the addition of these highly experienced people, we continue to expand our capacity to deliver our integrated approach involving income tax and estate planning to our clients.”

Scheidlinger, partner, has more than 25 years of tax experience, specializing in tax planning and compliance for high-net-worth individuals, complex estates and trusts, and gifts. He is a prolific author of articles in the New York Law Journal and the Journal of Accountancy. He received a Distinguished Author Award from Trusts & Estates magazine for co-authoring “Coming to America,” which describes legal and financial planning challenges of advising immigrant clients.

Jones, managing director, is a wealth-planning attorney with nearly 10 years of experience in advising high-net-worth clients and family offices. She counsels clients on a variety of domestic and international tax and estate planning.

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Nodoro Admitted as Tax Principal at Untracht

Andrea Nodoro

Andrea Nodoro

Florham Park, N.J.-based Untracht Early (FY17 net revenue of $28.1 million) announced that Andrea Nodoro has been admitted as a principal of the firm.

Nodoro joined the firm in 2013 and is a member of the firm’s individual tax practice. She will continue to provide tax and compliance services to the firm’s individual, trusts, real estate partnership and energy sector clients. She also helps not-for-profit clients with compliance issues and clients with taxation requirements related to gifting. In her new role, she will help shape the strategic vision for future growth at the firm.

Nodoro leads the firm’s 1040 Tax Training Program. She creates the content and teaches it to the firm’s tax professionals.

“Our individual tax clients constitute a substantial portion of the firm’s practice,” said David S. Untracht, senior principal. “By naming Andrea as a principal of the firm, we hope to give her even greater latitude to work responsively with these clients in offering the signature high level, tax-technical guidance for which Untracht Early is known.”

In addition to her firm responsibilities, Nodoro gives back to the community by volunteering for Junior Achievement of New Jersey and serving on the advisory council for Dress for Success Morris County, a not-for-profit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women.

MBAF Welcomes Director to Help Lead Growth of Regulatory Risk Solutions Practice

Heidy Duarte

Heidy Duarte

Heidy Duarte has joined Miami-based MBAF (FY17 net revenue of $124.3 million) to increase the firm’s offering of Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering compliance for both domestic and international clients.

Duarte, based in the Miami office, will help lead the firm’s growing regulatory risk solutions practice. Duarte brings more than 12 years of experience in the financial services industry with a focus on strengthening fraud prevention and detection procedures for a wide variety of clients. She helps domestic and international financial institutions prepare for and respond to regulatory examinations, including compliance with remediation requirements of regulatory enforcement actions and monitoring activities.

“Heidy will play a large role in advancing our regulatory risk solutions practice and will be instrumental in guiding clients through the evolving and increasingly complex regulatory expectations that we are seeing here in the U.S. and abroad,” says MP Antonio Argiz. “Her expertise in risk management and internal control will be a significant asset for clients and will further strengthen our suite of offerings.”

Prior to MBAF, Duarte led the corporate financial fraud team at a national bank, where she was responsible for promoting and implementing compliance standards and internal controls throughout the institution as well as minimizing fraud exposure. Additionally, she previously worked in a Big 4 firm where she performed assurance work for several financial institutions and participated in audits for public and private companies.

Armanino Brings Trust-as-a-Service (TaaS) to Blockchain

San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino LLP (FY17 net revenue of $242.7 million) has partnered with TrustToken to build a solution that will add transparency and trust to digital assets.

As a global leader in digitizing assets that can be seamlessly and securely exchanged across liquid markets, TrustToken and its TrueUSD® stablecoin cryptocurrency can be monitored via a dashboard hosted by Armanino. The solution connects directly to third-party escrow accounts holding the U.S. dollars that collateralize TrueUSD tokens, and runs its own ETH nodes to ensure accuracy of the outstanding TrueUSD token supply.

“Blockchain technology is all about enabling us to transact in a trustless peer-to-peer way. It’s important to us to build products that further advance this mission,” says Andries Verschelden, PIC of Armanino’s blockchain practice. “Through our dashboard we will create direct transparency into the marketplace and increase trust for all users, thus allowing a wider adaptation of this important product.”

“This sets a new standard not only for stablecoins, but for all tokenized assets in the future,” says Rafael Cosman, co-founder and head of engineering and product at TrustToken. “With real-time confirmation of funds provided by one of the world’s leading accounting firms, traders will know at all times that their tokens are backed by real-world value.”

Continuous attest has long been a goal within the audit profession, and this proprietary, real-time dashboard offering complete transparency regarding how digital assets are backed is a step in this direction, TrustToken says. The firm is developing programmatic approaches for auditing and attesting on underlying assets, whether fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies, precious metals, real estate or debt obligations.

“At Armanino we want to advance the audit function into the digital age. This means relying on technology to increase speed and effectiveness in bringing trust to our community,” says Scott Copeland, PIC of Armanino’s audit practice.

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Former KPMG Partner, PCAOB Staffer Found Guilty of Inspection Scheme

A former KPMG partner and a former PCAOB employee found guilty on March 11 of taking part in a scheme to give confidential information to the Big 4 firm to help it pass inspections, according to Reuters.

KPMG’s David Middendorf and the PCAOB’s Jeffrey Wada were both convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud by a jury in federal court in Manhattan. They were both acquitted of one count, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

Middendorf’s lawyer said in an email to Reuters that they were disappointed with the result and would appeal. A lawyer for Wada declined to comment.

The case emerged from what’s been termed a “steal the exam” scheme that resulted in the dismissal of six KPMG professionals who tried to obtain confidential information that would reveal which audits the PCAOB planned to review in its annual firm inspections.

The PCAOB reports problems revealed in its audit inspections to the SEC. Prosecutors say Wada leaked confidential information about upcoming PCAOB inspections to people at KPMG, including Middendorf, between 2015 and 2017. Also charged was Cynthia Holder and Brian Sweet, two former PCAOB staffers who joined KPMG during that period, bringing confidential information with them to their new jobs. Wada was angling to make a similar move, according to prosecutors, Reuters reported.

Former KPMG executive Thomas Whittle was also charged. Holder, Sweet and Whittle all pleaded guilty before trial.

EisnerAmper Expands Cannabis Practice

New York-based EisnerAmper (FY18 net revenue of $360.7 million) anticipates rapid expansion of the hemp and cannabis industry at the federal, state and international levels and is therefore expanding its services.

EisnerAmper is adding to its accounting, tax and advisory services for hemp and cannabis companies, from startup to exit. The firm also helps entities prepare for and adapt to regulatory changes and offer compliance services designed to meet annual governmental reporting requirements.

“This is the fastest-growing and most quickly evolving industry I’ve seen in my 35 years in business advisory services,” says Rick Frimmer, EisnerAmper managing director and cannabis and hemp practice leader. “What sets us apart is our practical experience having performed many engagements in this one-of-a-kind sector on behalf of both public and private companies. We know the landscape. We know the participants. And our lengthy track record of accounting proficiency and a client-centric approach is widely known.”

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Deloitte US Elects Ucuzoglu CEO, Foutty Chair

Joseph Ucuzoglu

Joseph Ucuzoglu

Joseph Ucuzoglu has been elected CEO and Janet Foutty has been elected chair of the board of New York-based Deloitte (FY17 net revenue of $18.6 billion), the largest accounting firm in the country. Both terms begin June 2.

Ucuzoglu and Foutty will succeed current Deloitte US CEO Cathy Engelbert and chairman Mike Fucci at the conclusion of their four-year terms. In July, the firm told its partners that Engelbert, the first woman to run a Big 4 firm in the U.S., would not be renominated for a second four-year term. In December, Ucuzoglu and Foutty were named the official candidates, subject to a vote this year.

“Joe’s distinguished record of serving our clients and driving transformative, technology-driven change positions him to lead our firm as clients, the capital markets, and society at large turn to Deloitte to navigate the opportunities brought on by the fourth industrial revolution” says Fucci in a statement. “Janet’s extensive leadership experience across multiple dimensions of our businesses, combined with her deep understanding of technology and innovation, the workforce of the future, and her commitment to inclusion have earned her a broad followership internally and externally.”

He added, “I would like to offer my gratitude to Cathy, a recognized leader in the business community who has led Deloitte US during her term to record growth while making significant investments in innovation and supporting our people’s professional lives and career journeys with a series of groundbreaking initiatives.”

Ucuzoglu currently serves as the chair and CEO of Deloitte & Touche LLP, where he has overseen all aspects of the transformation of the audit and assurance practice over the past four years. Ucuzoglu serves several of Deloitte’s largest clients and serves on Deloitte Global’s board of directors.

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Baker Tilly Partners with Visual Lease

Chicago-based Baker Tilly (FY18 net revenue of $578.4 million) announces a partnership with leading lease accounting and management software provider, Visual Lease. The enterprise level lease accounting software provides:

  • Flexible, cloud-based lease accounting software
  • Compatibility with all lease types
  • Highly efficient automated lease accounting
  • Ability to import lease data
  • Classification of leases with an automated lease test
  • Automated lease calculations, journal entries and disclosures
  • Easily configurable Excel-based reporting

The new ASC 842 standard on accounting for leases changes the financial reporting obligations of companies that enter into leasing transactions for assets such as real estate, vehicles and equipment.

“This scalable solution offers exceptional value by creating efficiencies for clients who want a user-friendly solution for high-volume lease portfolios,” Jere Shawver, Baker Tilly’s MP of assurance and risk, says. “They need to comply with the new ASC 842 standard, but without this solution they would have to manually account for their leases, driving up their internal costs and reducing available resources to complete high value projects.”

Marc Betesh, CEO of Visual Lease, says, “By implementing the Baker Tilly / Visual Lease solution, companies can quickly comply with the new lease accounting standard through a proven solution that combines a leading lease administration software solution with excellent implementation and consulting support from a top firm in the industry. In the end, Baker Tilly’s clients will have improved financial and operational control over their leases.”

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