EFPR Group Continues to Expand in Buffalo, N.Y.

Rochester, N.Y.-based EFPR Group (FY17 net revenue of $25.4 million) is merging in the accounting practice of Nowicki & Company of West Seneca, N.Y., into its Williamsville, N.Y., office.

The merger, effective Nov. 1, is expected to bring benefits to the clients and employees of both organizations and strengthen the business services EFPR Group now provides to its client base of more than 10,000.

“Our decision to unite with the West Seneca practice was based on the outstanding quality and service Ray Nowicki has provided to clients for over 30 years,” says James I. Marasco, EFPR Group MP. “The Nowicki & Company reputation for providing extraordinary tax planning, preparation and consulting is consistent with our mission to help clients make intelligent and informed financial decisions.”

He adds that the firm is considering additional mergers and acquisitions in upstate New York.

Raymond Nowicki, Laura Geiger and Paul Kiel will join EFPR Group as partners and will be responsible for client relations, new business development and growing the commercial services practice. Additional staff members will also join as part of this transition.

EFPR Group has been serving clients across the United States and abroad for 60 years with a comprehensive array of tax consulting and planning services in addition to auditing, forensic accounting, business valuation, accounting, outsourcing automation services and other business management services.

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Klein Hall Joins Wipfli

Milwaukee-based Wipfli (FY19 net revenue of $362.5 million) has announced that the partners and associates of Klein Hall of Aurora, Ill., joined the firm Nov. 1.

This transaction marks the firm’s seventh in the Chicago area in five years and will add 25 Klein Hall employees, including five partners, to Wipfli’s presence there.

“This will add an office to our footprint in the western suburbs of Chicago, enhancing our physical presence in the market and helping Wipfli to become an even stronger leader in providing audit, tax and consulting services to Chicagoland’s organizations and businesses,” says Kurt Gresens, Wipfli’s MP.

Klein Hall focuses primarily on business advisory services and consulting, serving as controllers and CFOs for mid-size companies. The firm has a strong practice serving businesses in the construction industry, as well as professional services, manufacturing and distribution businesses and conducting audits of local governments.

Klein Hall MP Christina Klein Trapp says, “We are proud of Klein Hall’s success over the years and our strong reputation for delivering quality solutions to our clients while also providing exceptional service. Joining forces with Wipfli provides us with national resources and more extensive capabilities to continue to serve our clients’ evolving needs while also providing career and development opportunities to our employees, which will help us continue to retain and attract the best and brightest professionals in the industry.”

Allan Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group, who advised both firms on the transaction, says, “Wipfli continues with their strategic journey throughout Chicago by finding another very dynamic and entrepreneurial firm in Klein Hall. Wipfli’s rapid expansion and growth in the Chicago market has received national attention due to its successful integration and excellent results. Klein Hall has also been recognized nationally as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States and has received many national workplace awards. This is a great step for both firms.”

The firm now has more than 2,400 associates and 50 offices.

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BKD Launches AI-Powered Lease Solution

Springfield, Mo.-based BKD (FY19 net revenue of $662.9 million) is introducing a new tool, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), to help organizations implement GASB 87 and FASB Accounting Standards Codification 842 on lease accounting.

BKD LeaseVision provides an AI tool to extract key lease terms from various lease types, a road map to help provide an in-depth process framework and an Excel-based tool to help perform calculations and develop lease amortization schedules.

“BKD is excited to offer this tool to help our clients succeed,” says director Amy Shreck, one of BKD LeaseVision’s developers. “We look forward to using the LeaseVision tool to consult with organizations to help implement these complex lease standards.”

FASB recently approved the delay of its lease accounting standard effective date. However, “despite this delay, we are encouraging our clients and prospects to be proactive and start the process now,” says director Jessica Richter, one of BKD LeaseVision’s developers.

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Florida Construction Specialists Join CLA

Construction industry specialist firm Forehand & Associates of Orlando, Fla., has joined CliftonLarsonAllen LLP (CLA) (FY18 net revenue of $954.6 million).

“Joining the team at CLA allows us to continue to provide our construction clients with the same quality service we have provided for the past 26 years,” says Whit Forehand, MP of Forehand & Associates. “It also allows us to offer CLA’s deep experience in wealth advisory and outsourcing to our construction clients, and a wide range of quality audit, tax and consulting services to industries not currently served by Forehand & Associates.”

Forehand & Associates has focused exclusively on the construction industry and related enterprises since 1993, providing financial statements, income tax strategy, merger and acquisition consultation, litigation support and general business advice.

“This year, CLA was recognized as the No. 1 ranked construction accounting firm in the United States by Construction Executive,” says Les Eiserman, managing principal of CLA Orlando. “Welcoming Whit and his team deepens and reinforces our commitment to creating opportunities for our clients in the construction industry.”

Forehand says that for clients, the transition should be seamless. The seven former Forehand & Associates team members will continue to serve clients locally and nationally from Orlando, alongside CLA’s Florida team of nearly 300 professionals.

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IPA INSIDER: October 2019 News

Listed below are the Top 10 most-read stories on the INSIDE Public Accounting blog for the month of October.

  1. INSIDE Public Accounting Releases Annual Ranking of the Top 400 Accounting Firms
  2. PCAOB Sanctions Marcum LLP for Auditor Independence Violations
  3. The 2019 Most Recommended Consultants
  4. INSIDE Public Accounting Unveils The 2019 Best of the Best Accounting Firms
  5. Former FASB Leader to Join BKD as Partner
  6. Sikich Acquires NexGen Consultants
  7. BDO Makes Inroads in Seattle Area with Peterson Sullivan Merger
  8. Atlanta-based Porter Keadle Moore Joins Wipfli
  9. Andy Armanino to Step Into Chair Role at Moore Global
  10. UHY LLP Expands With Long Island Office

Armanino Creates Game-Changing Technology To Deliver Real-Time Attestation Service

San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino (FY18 net revenue of $267.2 million) has created the world’s first application of real-time attest.

Using blockchain technology, Armanino created TrustExplorer 2.0, which reduces attestation reporting from 30 days to 30 seconds and is the first step to developing real-time audit.

“For years, thought leaders have predicted the future arrival of real-time auditing capabilities, and now Armanino has accomplished the world’s first business application of this theorized innovation,” says CEO Matt Armanino. “This breakthrough is a catalyst that will lead to the widespread development and adoption of real-time auditing, and offers a transformational improvement over the current audit practices.”

Armanino tells IPA that TrustExplorer is an example of what the profession should be doing to take advantage of disruptive technologies. “This is an incredible opportunity to change ourselves,” he says. “Embrace it with a sense of fearlessness.”

The TrustExplorer 2.0 tool will allow users to download a report, backed by the firm’s opinion and in compliance with attest examination standards. The innovation solves some of the biggest issues with reporting as it exists now: reports are historical and stale by the time they are issued, they are not widely available and methods of collecting data are time-consuming.

The first license to Armanino’s TrustExplorer platform was granted to TrustToken, the world’s fourth largest stablecoin issuer. TrustExplorer supports public blockchain nodes to obtain audit evidence for the TrueUSD stablecoin.

“TrustExplorer 2.0 serves as our roadmap for how to take immutable tamper-resistant systems like blockchains, and harness them to provide attestation opinions both in real-time and with accuracy that cannot be contaminated by human error,” says Andries Verschelden, partner and blockchain practice leader at Armanino. “This is a clear-cut example of how blockchain technology is already changing business processes to optimize accuracy, security and speed.”

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Americans’ Financial Satisfaction Near All-Time High

Although Americans are slightly less optimistic than the last quarter, the average American should be feeling a strong sense of financial well-being, according to results of the AICPA’s Personal Financial Satisfaction Index for the third quarter of this year.

The index shows a 3.6% decrease from the prior quarter. The decline was due to a 2.2% drop in the Personal Financial Pleasure Index, which outweighed a slight 0.8% decrease in the Personal Financial Pain Index. The Personal Financial Satisfaction Index is calculated as the Pleasure Index minus the Pain Index.

The data, combined with the AICPA’s CPA Outlook Index, shows that while Americans are experiencing near record high levels of financial satisfaction, CPA executives have become somewhat more worried about the potential for an economic downturn in the year ahead, the AICPA reports.

“It’s important for Americans to keep in mind that economies are cyclical,” says David Desmarais, a member of the AICPA Personal Financial Planning Executive Committee. “Now is the perfect time for Americans to check in on their financial plans to make sure that everything is in order. That may mean making sure they aren’t overextended with debt (whether it be credit cards, lines of credit, auto loans or home mortgages), and talking to their CPA about their goals, asset allocation, time horizon and risk tolerance.”

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Great Northern Advisory Team Joins Armanino

Caroline Stovall

San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino (FY18 net revenue of $267.2 million) has announced that Great Northern Advisory, a financial consulting firm in Dallas, has joined the firm.

Founder Caroline Stovall has been admitted as a partner to lead the firm’s CFO advisory practice, effective Nov. 1. The Great Northern Advisory team is made up of 15 consultants with decades of experience in a variety of Big 4, consulting and operational roles, including as CFOs and controllers.

CEO Matt Armanino says the firm is committed to expanding the practice. “The Great Northern Advisory team brings deep expertise in health care, accounting process transformation, system implementations, acquisition integrations, interim financial management, accounting support, private equity and transaction advisory services that perfectly complement our CFO advisory practice.”

The Great Northern Advisory team will be based in Armanino’s Dallas office.

“Armanino is a great fit for our team, because the firm recognizes the importance of a strategic CFO organization – something that is at the core of our practice,” Stovall says.

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Crowe Appoints First Chief Information Security Officer, New Chief Risk Officer

Chicago-based Crowe (FY19 net revenue of $951.9 million) has named Rex Voorheis as the firm’s first chief information security officer and Steve Strammello as the new chief risk officer.

Voorheis has been with Crowe for 20 years, leading the enterprise information security and privacy functions for the past decade. During this time, the Crowe information security and privacy team has grown to nearly 30 security professionals. In his new officer role, Voorheis is responsible for the Crowe information security and privacy functions, developing information security strategy, defining information security requirements and practices, and working with clients to address security-related questions.

“Our clients entrust us with their sensitive data and it’s our responsibility to put policies, processes and technologies in place to allow us to best serve our clients while protecting data and addressing any regulations that may apply,” Voorheis says.

Strammello, a 26-year veteran of the firm, succeeds Fred Bauters, who is retiring in April 2020. Strammello’s responsibilities include oversight of the firm’s general counsel and audit quality functions, as well as management of the firm’s enterprise risk management program.

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Langwasser & Company CPAs Names Two New Partners

Shawn Hull

Langwasser & Company CPAs of Upland, Calif., has named two new partners.

Shawn Hull and Rosa Huerta have joined founding and lead partner Karin Langwasser and MP Cindy Agostini in leading firm.

In addition, earlier this year, Langwasser & Company appointed two other team members to management positions. Sarah Scully was promoted to tax and accounting supervisor and Brandie Lubelski rejoined the company as controller.

“From the time they joined us, both Shawn and Rosie have been key members of the Langwasser & Company family,” Langwasser says. “Both have been groomed and trained for leadership positions, progressively advancing within the company while continually taking on additional responsibilities and developing expertise in a wide range of specialty areas.”

Rosa Huerta

The move expands the partnership team’s expertise over a variety of financial and tax-related areas. Hull and Huerta are both CPAs who joined Langwasser & Company in 2012 and were later promoted to tax and accounting managers.

Hull specializes in tax strategy and planning, with a primary focus on “flow-through entity” structures and corporations. She represents a variety of closely held businesses and high net-worth individuals, with strong concentration in the areas of construction, insurance, media and entertainment, logistics, medical services, manufacturing and distributions, real estate, service-based businesses, technology and startups.

Huerta has extensive experience in tax planning, accounting and audit and advisory services, working with high net-worth individuals and their families, closely held businesses, trusts and exempt organizations. She also provides tax services for estates and trusts as well as private businesses.