Caleca, MP of Brown Smith Wallace, Named MSNA Board Vice Chair

Tony Caleca

Tony Caleca

Tony Caleca, MP of St. Louis-based Brown Smith Wallace (FY16 net revenue of $43.2 million) has been named vice chair of the Moore Stephens North America executive board. MSNA is one of eight regional members of Moore Stephens International Limited (MSIL).

As vice chair, Caleca will serve on the MSIL international policy board alongside leaders of other top performing CPA and business advisory firms throughout the world. This will provide Brown Smith Wallace clients expanded depth of the Moore Stephens worldwide organization, while still maintaining the highest level of local accounting firm attention on a regular basis. Caleca is the first Brown Smith Wallace MP to serve on the MSNA executive board.

Brown Smith Wallace has been an independent member firm of MSNA since its inception. This affiliation allows Brown Smith Wallace to extend its reach to serve middle-market companies across the U.S. and the world.

Manufacturers Slow to Adopt IoT, Report Finds

The internet of things (IoT) can help manufacturers improve customer service, field and plant maintenance work, inventory management, and more. However, the 2018 Manufacturing Report from professional services firm Naperville, Ill.-based Sikich (FY17 net revenue of $152.1 million) found that fewer than 10% of those surveyed currently use IoT technologies. Further, 30% said they have no clear understanding of the IoT.

“Manufacturers of all sizes can benefit from the internet of things, but too many lack the necessary understanding of the benefits and fail to embrace these transformative technologies,” says Jerry Murphy, PIC of Sikich’s manufacturing and distribution practice. “As a result, many manufacturers and distributors miss out on significant operational improvements and efficiency gains across the supply chain, which can put them at a competitive disadvantage.”

Additionally, the report revealed warning signs for manufacturers when it comes to protecting their data and intellectual property. Though more than three-fourths of respondents said they had not experienced a cybersecurity incident in the last 12-18 months, only 19% of respondents say they are “very ready” to address cybersecurity risk. Sixty-three percent of respondents believe they are only “somewhat ready.”

“Cybersecurity threats will only increase as technology becomes even more integrated into manufacturing operations,” says Brad Lutgen, a partner in Sikich’s security and compliance practice. “That’s especially true given the rapid adoption of IoT devices. Manufacturers must therefore have security programs in place to address the ever-changing threats. At a minimum, a company’s program should include conducting regular risk assessments, penetration testing and vulnerability assessments to gauge its current security posture. Manufacturers should also put in place vendor management programs to vet third-party technologies to make sure that vendors adequately test for security vulnerabilities.”

A focus on organic growth and R&D

The report found that, compared to 2017, fewer manufacturers said they are “more optimistic” about the U.S. economy (66% compared to 75% in 2017) and more said they are “less optimistic” (11% compared to 5% in 2017). Still, as they eye growth, companies continue to target existing domestic markets. Manufacturers ranked organic growth in an existing domestic market as their biggest opportunity, followed by new product or service development. As they seek to develop new products and services, 60% of respondents said they use research and development tax credits, up from 52% in 2017.

But, amid a push for business growth, many manufacturers still lack long-term succession plans. Only 25% of respondents have a written plan to exit the business.

For the 2018 Manufacturing Report, Sikich surveyed more than 200 respondents from companies across industrial sectors, including metal fabrication, industrial equipment, food and beverage, OEM equipment, chemicals and petroleum, automotive, plastics and wholesale/distribution.

Access the full report, including survey results and insights from Sikich technology, accounting, human resources, investment banking and supply chain experts, here.

Lan Joins Friedman LLP as Audit Partner

New York-based Friedman LLP (FY17 net revenue of $101.5 million) announced that Thomas Lan has joined the firm’s New York office as an audit partner. Lan is a partner at Friedman with more than 15 years of public and private accounting experience. He provides audit and advisory services to domestic and international entities, including private companies and publicly traded companies. He serves clients from diversified industries, primarily focusing on aerospace, biotech, energy, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, public relations and marketing, maritime, manufacturing and distribution, and retail.

Prior to joining Friedman, Lan served as audit director at BDO USA. He has extensive experience in complex accounting transactions as revenue recognition, lease accounting, inventory and complex financial instruments.

His expertise includes:

  • Integrated audits, reviews and other attestation services
  • SEC reporting assistance
  • Sarbanes-Oxley readiness consulting and assistance
  • Cost accounting and business process improvement
  • Consulting with companies in the United States, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan regarding initial public offerings in the United States

2018 Accounting MOVE Project Report Announces Best CPA Firms for Women

Expectations have never been higher for women’s advancement in the workplace, and the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance Best CPA Firms for Women list and the Best Firms for Equity Leadership List, based on the 2018 Accounting MOVE Project report, recognizes and showcases the firms around the country who truly get it and work hard to ensure that the profession’s much-needed emphasis on diversity and inclusion also furthers momentum for women.

The 2018 Best CPA Firms for Women are:

  • San Francisco-based BPM (FY16 net revenue of $85.8 million)
  • Louis-based Brown Smith Wallace (FY16 net revenue of $43.2 million)
  • Clark Nuber PS (FY16 net revenue of $36.2 million) of Bellevue, Wash.
  • New York-based CohnReznick LLP (FY17 net revenue of $617 million)
  • Sarasota, Fla.-based Kerkering Barberio & Co. (FY17 net revenue of $16.7 million)
  • Lurie LLP (FY17 net revenue of $28 million) of Minneapolis
  • Louisville, Ky.-based MCM CPAs and Advisors (FY17 net revenue of $22.5 million)
  • Seattle-based Moss Adams (FY17 net revenue of $577 million)
  • San Francisco-based Novogradac & Company LLP (FY17 net revenue of $136.7 million)
  • Southfield, Mich.-based Plante Moran (FY17 net revenue of $520.5 million)
  • Troy, Mich.-based Rehmann (FY17 net revenue of $116 million)
  • Pittsford, N.Y.-based The Bonadio Group (FY17 net revenue of $92.1 million)

The Accounting MOVE Project Best CPA Firms for Equity Leadership list recognizes firms with at least 33% women partners and principals, as 33% is widely recognized as the tipping point for members of any identity group to have individual impact. The Equity Leadership list recognizes firms that have achieve that milestone through any combination of culture, programs or initiatives.

The 2018 Best CPA Firms for Equity Leadership are:

  • Washington, D.C.-based Raffa PC (FY17 net revenue of $49.1 million): 63.2%
  • Sarasota, Fla.-based Kerkering Barberio & Co. (FY17 net revenue of $16.7 million): 60%
  • Alexandria, Va.-based KWC CPAs (FY17 net revenue of $12.8 million): 60%
  • Lincoln, Neb.-based HBE LLP (FY17 net revenue of $8.6 million): 50%
  • San Jose, Calif.-based Johanson & Yau: 50%
  • Clark Nuber PS (FY16 net revenue of $36.2 million) of Bellevue, Wash.: 47.5%
  • San Francisco, Calif.-based Hood & Strong (FY17 net revenue of $16.7 million): 40%
  • Louisville, Ky.-based MCM CPAs and Advisors (FY17 net revenue of $22.5 million): 39.7%
  • Atlanta-based Frazier & Deeter (FY16 net revenue of $74 million): 38%
  • Pittsford, N.Y.-based The Bonadio Group (FY17 net revenue of $92.1 million): 37.6%
  • Louis-based Brown Smith Wallace (FY16 net revenue of $43.2 million): 36.2%
  • Tuscon, Ariz.-based BeachFleischman (FY16 net revenue of $25.8 million): 33.3%
  • Lurie LLP (FY17 net revenue of $28 million) of Minneapolis: 33.3%
  • San Francisco-based OUM (FY17 net revenue of $18.7 million): 33%

“As with anything in business, we must evaluate, adapt and evolve to ensure continued success. This holds true for women’s initiatives. This year’s Accounting MOVE Project demonstrates how far women have come in the industry, but also expresses the need to keep pushing forward,” said Cindy Stanley, executive director for the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA).

Sobel & Co. Valuation Practice and EAC Valuations Merge

EAC Valuations PA of Paoli, Pa., has joined Sobel & Co. (FY16 net revenue of $20.2 million) of Livingston, N.J., in their valuation practice to create Sobel Valuations LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sobel & Co.

“From the first time Frank Merenda, President and CEO of EAC Valuations, met with the Sobel & Co. valuation team, we quickly recognized the power of combining our two groups,” says Alan Sobel, managing member of Sobel & Co. “By leveraging both firms’ years of experience serving the valuation and appraisals niche market, we are positioned to effectively address the needs of the corporate business community.”

The EAC brand will continue to go to market independently, as well as together, under Sobel Valuations. This flexibility enables them to assemble a team of professionals across a wide range of disciplines. The Sobel & Co. Valuation Practice will benefit from Merenda’s adherence to EAC’s long standing mission, his deep commitment to its high standards and his well-regarded valuation and appraisal expertise gained throughout his years in the top leadership role at EAC.

“I am glad that I have the opportunity to draw on my experiences conducting a wide variety of valuations, such as Fair Value (both ASC and IFRS), Appraisals of Intangible Assets, Deferred Compensation, and Purchase Price Allocations for Financial Reporting, and Fair Market Value Appraisals for Property Tax, Insurance, Corporate Planning, Mergers & Acquisitions, and Gift/Estate Appraisal. EAC has almost 50 years as a leader in the valuation community completing more than 14,000 appraisals for clients ranging from multi-billion dollar companies to privately-held manufacturing and service companies. Joining our depth of experience with Sobel & Co.’s 60+ year legacy is a positive step for both organizations, and most importantly, for the clients we serve,” says Merenda.

The move will reinforce existing services and further expand the menu of Sobel & Co.’s valuation capabilities, which include business valuations, financial reporting valuations, strategic advisory services, commercial damages, corporate and partnership disputes, matrimonial dissolutions, estate and gift valuations, shareholder and partner buy-outs, mergers & acquisitions and a diversity of other valuation services.

Leading IT Audit Professional Joins Seiler

Sumit Pal

Sumit Pal

Redwood City, Calif.-based Seiler LLP (FY17 net revenue of $54.4 million) announced that Sumit Pal, a senior IT audit executive with more than 25 years of experience in internal audit, IT/cybersecurity matters and software engineering, has joined the firm as an audit principal.

Pal is the firm’s senior-most practitioner in IT and internal audit, having conducted a wide range of critical engagements for public and privately held companies, as well as non-profits, across multiple industries including financial services, technology, life sciences and media. He will be based in the firm’s Redwood City office.

“Sumit’s arrival helps the firm further support clients’ assurance needs around IT, internal controls and cybersecurity infrastructure. His joining Seiler further strengthens this area on their behalf,” says Debra McCall, Seiler’s PIC of the audit practice. “We look forward to his many contributions.”

“Seiler is a market leader and I am delighted to bring my experience to bear in this area of growing importance to clients,” says Pal.

Prior to joining Seiler, Pal was a principal at WithumSmith+Brown. During his career, he has held executive, marketing and sales positions at several hardware and software companies and has been based in India, Singapore, Australia and Switzerland.

Platt’s Perspective: On Slaughtering Sacred Cows

Mike Platt

Mike Platt

It’s no secret that change doesn’t come easily. The best change agents are fundamentally curious, not only wondering why a system or a process is done in a certain way, but digging deep to uncover the root cause. Using the “ask five ‘whys’ ” technique in their exploration, the best leaders will often get past the surface answer and expose what is at the core of a “fundamental truth” about how business is done in their firm.

As an example, consider a common complaint in firms today – staff turnover is high and often the wrong people are leaving. Why is that? Professional staff are often frustrated because they don’t know what it takes to get ahead, and they make a decision – often in a vacuum – based on what they think is their best career move. Why is that? In many firms there is not a well-defined or well-communicated path to advancement from staff person to partner. Why is that? Because often there is not just one path to success, and by defining the path, partners feel they are boxed in to one approach. Why is that? Because when they were coming up, partners had to define their own path and demonstrate their own entrepreneurial “chops” to get ahead, and often feel that handing a defined plan to someone is short-circuiting what it takes to get ahead. And why is that? Because ultimately partners believe that the staff haven’t yet paid their dues and should not be given a free ride.

This ultimate partner belief – that staff haven’t paid their dues – contributes to high turnover rates and may no longer serve the firm the right way. This type of a belief system is an example of a sacred cow of the profession.

What other sacred cows should be analyzed? See how many of these beliefs you recognize in your own firm:
1. Our pyramid-shaped business model is the key to a successful firm going forward.
2. There is no time for additional value-added work during busy season.
3. Partners own the relationships.
4. Partners are best to run the firm.
5. As a partner, no one else can do what I do.
6. Minimum hours are required during tax season.
7. Face time is critical, the team needs to be in the office.
8. Entry point to a client is compliance services.
9. Technology can’t replace what we do.
10. We need to treat all clients like “A” clients.
11. Career success = Partnership.
12. Firm success = Net Income per Partner.
13. Traditional metrics tell us all we need to know about our success.
14. We are a service organization, not a sales organization.
15. High quality work will ensure that we keep our best clients.

Without a doubt, many sacred cows exist in firms today, and the list above is just a fraction of the many (outdated?) belief systems that dominate the profession. Ask your partner group and key staff to identify their own list. Slaughtering these sacred cows can be a liberating experience for all involved, and will make room for a new set of beliefs that will better serve the firm by propelling everyone into a more successful future.

Seiler Admits Two to Partnership

Sanjay Agarwal

Sanjay Agarwal

Redwood City, Calif.-based Seiler LLP (FY17 net revenue of $54.4 million) admitted two new partners, Sanjay Agarwal and Amy Miller.

“Sanjay and Amy are exceptional individuals and valuable contributors to the firm and our clients,” says George Marinos, Seiler’s CEO. “They each have a proven ability to wisely guide clients through the constantly changing and complex tax landscape, and I am proud to welcome them as partners.”

Agarwal is an international tax and corporate M&A partner and leads the firm’s international and corporate tax practice. He focuses on international and corporate tax planning for multinational corporations and other business entities, and regularly consults with his clients on M&A tax and transfer pricing matters. His experience includes domestic and foreign mergers and acquisitions, CFC/Subpart F/GILTI planning, supply chain structuring, foreign tax credit planning, FDII, PFIC planning and local country tax optimization. Agarwal assists his clients by providing tax consulting services for stock and asset acquisitions/dispositions, structuring of tax efficient business models, intellectual property planning, tax efficient repatriation and treasury management structures. He works with an extensive network of foreign tax consultants on developing structures that minimize the foreign taxes of his clients without adversely affecting their U.S. tax position.

Amy Miller

Amy Miller

“Seiler’s team is truly collaborative and integrated, offering clients a one-stop shop for tax planning and compliance services. I’m honored to be named partner in a firm with such an excellent reputation and robust, diverse tax practice,” says Agarwal.

Miller joined the firm in January 2012 as a tax manager. She is based in the firm’s San Francisco office. Her expertise focuses on tax compliance and consulting services for high-net-worth individuals, multi-generational families, privately-held companies and trusts. Miller also provides equity compensation planning for entrepreneurs and senior executives. Her business and accounting services include quarterly tax planning for high-net-worth individuals and tax return filing services for federal, multi-state tax, partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies, estates, trusts and foundations. Miller also advises clients on cross-border income tax planning, wealth transfer planning and charitable gift planning.

“I’m proud to say I’m a partner at Seiler, and it is a privilege having my name associated with such a highly respected accounting firm,” says Miller. “As partner, I look forward to contributing even more towards enhancing the firm’s growth and stewardship, and cultivating our next generation of leaders.”

Give Back to the Community to Retain Employees, New Study Says

Employee retention is the latest hot topic among employers and human resource experts, as research has shown that replacing salaried employees can cost as much as $30,000 in recruiting and training. And, now, a new study finds a surprising way to increase employee retention is via the simple act of corporate giving.

“A study from Benevity, Inc. has found that when companies participate in philanthropic efforts, their likelihood of retaining employees increases,” says Jack Skeen, corporate leadership expert and co-author of executive development book The Circle Blueprint: Decoding the Conscious and Unconscious Factors that Determine Your Success. “In fact, when employees are actively involved in their company’s charity efforts, they are 57% less likely to jump ship.”

Skeen explains that this increase in retention is in part due to the fact that “corporate goodness” is appealing to employees, especially due to the fact that so many of us are skeptical of large corporations.

“Many people are distrustful of authority in this day and age. In fact, a recent study found that the majority of people say that they no longer have faith in the government, media or businesses,” says Skeen. “Hence, it makes sense that corporate giving programs help to keep employees involved as well as happy at their jobs. It might seem like a small thing, but to employees who are so disillusioned by corporate greed and deception, it can feel like a major step in the right direction.”

The leadership development CEO also says that corporate giving can serve to unite employees and help them foster relationships with one another. “We know that having friends at work can greatly improve an employee’s attitude and even their productivity. In fact, 70% of people say that having friends at work is crucial to a happy work life, while research also shows that having friends at work also has a positive impact on employees’ output.”

That is why to gain maximum impact from corporate giving, Skeen says companies should focus their efforts not just on raising money, but on events where employees can work together outside the office. “Whether it is helping with clean-up efforts after a storm or collecting goods for the needy, it’s important to engage employees beyond just having them write a check for a charity,” says Skeen.

The Bonadio Group Names Roman CIO

John Roman Jr.

John Roman Jr.

Pittsford, N.Y.-based The Bonadio Group (FY17 net revenue of $92.1 million) has appointed John Roman Jr. as its chief information officer (CIO).

Roman will oversee all aspects of the firm’s IT services including management, operations, security and strategic planning.

“We’re looking forward to adding John’s expertise to lead the team in information technology,” says Thomas Bonadio, CEO of Bonadio Group. “He has a strong history of applying results-oriented skills to multi-site organizations. This is an ideal time for John to join us as we grow in key markets and create a tech roadmap for the future.”

Roman’s experience includes more than a decade at Nixon Peabody’s Rochester office, as well as positions at Brite Computers, NetSetGo, Xerox, Wang Laboratories and Northern Telecom.