Illinois CPA Society Announces 2020-21 Board of Directors

The Illinois CPA Society has appointed the following professionals to its board of directors for the term of April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021:

  • Chairperson: Dorri McWhorter, YMCA Metropolitan Chicago
  • Vice Chairperson: Thomas Murtagh, BKD
  • Secretary: Mary Fuller, Shepard Schwartz & Harris
  • Treasurer: Jonathan Hauser, KPMG
  • Immediate Past Chairperson: Geoffrey Harlow, Wipfli

“As we work to ensure CPAs are positioned to continue providing valued assurances and insights to clients and companies for generations to come, I am honored to have this team of strategic business advisors guiding our organization during this time of unprecedented change,” says Todd Shapiro, Illinois CPA Society president and CEO.

Maryland CPAs Share Pandemic Concerns in Virtual Town Hall

More than 400 CPAs attending a recent virtual town hall sponsored by the Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA) expressed concerns ranging from counseling clients and understanding new laws and regulations to balancing the bottom line and helping their teams feel safe, productive and connected in the sudden shift to remote work amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The virtual meeting and professional issues update on March 30 took the place of MAPCA’s usual in-person spring events.

In addition to several common business-related challenges, attendees expressed concerns about issues impacting the country as a whole, including uncertainty about what will happen next, keeping those closest to us safe and healthy, work-life balance in an all-remote environment and questions about how long this will last.

By the numbers, some of their biggest concerns included the following:

  • A potential recession – 72%
  • The financial impact on their organizations – 59%
  • The impact on their workforces and a potential reduction in productivity – 45%
  • A decrease in consumer and business confidence – 39%
  • A lack of information with which to make good decisions or to help their clients – 44%

In addition, 65% of those polled expect a slight, moderate or significant decrease in revenue and profitability as a result of the crisis, while 25% weren’t sure what to expect.

MACPA has scheduled additional virtual professional issues updates on April 24, May 22 and June 30 to get ongoing pandemic-related feedback from its members.

“Our next challenge is to continue our advocacy efforts and to provide more resources to our members about the federal and state COVID-19 relief resources,” says MACPA president and CEO Tom Hood.

More news from the MACPA

Abacus Worldwide to Merge in JHI

Two associations plan to merge on Sept. 1: Miami-based Abacus Worldwide, which represents both law and accounting firms, and JHI of Hillside, N.J.

The combined global business association – to be known as Abacus Worldwide ­– will focus on the key initiatives of business referrals, knowledge exchange and practice management tools going forward.

JHI plans to finalize its vote to merge into Abacus Worldwide following its general meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, in July. Brian Pashen, JHI International chairman, says merging will increase geographic coverage and global connections to both accounting and law firms.

When both associations join, the organization will have 125 legal and accounting firm members, with 5,600 total staff in 236 offices in 56 countries.

“Going forward, our strategy will focus on regional efforts and further supporting member needs. We are confident that we will have a great future together,” says Abacus Worldwide president and CEO Julio Gabay.

More news from Abacus Worldwide

Mark Baer to Take Reins as Crowe CEO Next Year

Mark Baer

Mark Baer

Chicago-based Crowe (FY19 net revenue of $951.9 million) has announced that firm veteran Mark Baer will be appointed CEO effective April 1, 2021, when current CEO Jim Powers completes his second and firm-mandated final term. The firm’s CEO succession plan includes a one-year transition period for Powers and Baer to work together.

Baer has been the MP of Crowe’s audit and assurance services area for the past five years. He has also served the firm as a member of Crowe’s firmwide management committee, CEO advisory council and partner screening committee. Baer worked with a Big 4 firm for 10 years before joining Crowe in 2001 and being admitted as a partner in 2003.

“Mark was chosen to lead our firm for many reasons but primarily due to his visionary mindset with a focus on our digital transformation, his track record of successful leadership of our audit and assurance practice and his commitment to audit quality,” says Dawnella Johnson, Crowe board chair. “He’s a strong communicator and inspirational leader, with a concentration on building talent and teams.”

More news from Crowe LLP

Law Firms Mull Canceling Partner Payments to Boost Liquidity Amid COVID-19 Concerns

As the COVID-19 pandemic has already caused one U.K. law firm to cancel partner payments, a U.S. legal consultant is advocating a similar move for other firms.

Leaders at Gateley, one of six publicly listed law firms in the U.K., announced via the London Stock Exchange that shareholders would not receive their March 31 dividend of 2.9 pence per share, The American Lawyer reported. The move is designed to “maximize the group’s short-term liquidity,” the firm said. Gateley’s share price dropped from 222 pence per share to 122 pence per share in two weeks.

The statement continues that activity has reduced since March 1 as a result of the disruption “caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to our clients and to our staff.”

In the same publication, a legal consultant encouraged law firm leaders to consider deferring payments to partners to ensure financial solvency.

Hugh Simons writes that the move will instill confidence in partners that management’s top priority is the financial viability of the firm. “How am I so confident about this? Because I was directly involved in deferring partner payments in the wake of the dotcom crash; we never regretted the move.” Simons formerly served as a senior partner at The Boston Consulting Group and COO and policy committee member at Ropes & Gray.

His suggestion: “If, thanks to the timing of your financial year, you’ve not paid partners their most recent profit share, then it behooves you to withhold it.” He also suggests telling partners through a series of conference calls rather than in a group email since the intention is to assure partners and answer all questions thoroughly.

“On balance, mid-July, with appropriate wording about flexibility to possibly defer further in a mechanism yet to be determined, is probably the way to go,” Simons explains, noting that payments deferred until July 15 will coincide with the new tax filing deadline. “Disasters only happen when you run out of options; preserving cash preserves options.”

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AICPA Appeals to IRS, Treasury for ‘Extensive Relief’ for Taxpayers

In light of the ongoing uncertainty and challenges caused by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the AICPA called for the U.S. Department of the Treasury and IRS to provide more extensive relief to all taxpayers.

Noting its appreciation for the agencies’ efforts to extend the tax filing and payment deadlines announced in the recent Notice 2020-18, the AICPA is nevertheless stressing the importance of providing additional relief. The AICPA recommends:

Postponing all deadlines and providing additional time to make payments. The AICPA believes taxpayers who do not have an April 15 payment or filing date are inherently disadvantaged and would similarly benefit from a deferral. The group argues that these individuals and their advisors need additional time for filings, tax payments, estimated taxes and gathering pertinent information to include in those filings or payment calculations.

Providing appropriate filing and payment relief for all filers and taxpayers (including tax-exempt organizations and fiscal year corporations) for tax returns, information returns, elections, claims for refund and other correspondence. The AICPA says relief should also apply broadly to all types of taxes (including payroll, excise tax, estate, gift and generations-skipping transfer tax, etc.), noting that deferment of other taxes that are not income taxes is necessary to aid both businesses and their employees.

“With shelter-in-place orders issued throughout the country and a spreading pandemic, there is a significant list of filing and payment challenges left unresolved,” says AICPA Vice President of Taxation Edward Karl. “We urge the Treasury Department and IRS to grant additional relief in these uncertain times and offer our assistance in identifying specific areas in need of FAQs or formal authoritative guidance.”

More news from the AICPA

RotenbergMeril Expands Headquarters

Looking for a larger and more modern headquarters, Saddle Brook, N.J.-based RotenbergMeril (FY18 net revenue of $12.2 million) has announced a move to a new 22,000-square-foot space within its current Park 80 West office plaza.

Focused on creating a more energizing and efficient work environment for employees, firm leaders chose an open floor plan with more natural light, improved technology to encourage collaboration and mobility, and new amenities such as a café-style lunchroom and wellness room.

“It’s important for our new office space to align with how our accounting firm and our clients are innovating, and to foster a collaborative environment for our growing workforce,” says MP Neal Rotenberg.

Alexander Thompson Arnold Names CIO

Alan Watson

Alan Watson has been appointed to the newly created role of chief information officer at Union City, Tenn.-based Alexander Thompson Arnold (FY18 net revenue of $26.6 million).

Watson previously served as principal consultant at Digital Simplicity and EVP-CIO of ChanceLight Behavioral Health, Therapy & Education. He was also awarded a Citrix Innovation Award for excellence in collaborating, networking and virtualization for his work creating customized learning resources in a secure, highly regulated environment.

“As ATA continues to grow and evolve, we saw a need to position ourselves as an innovative accounting firm that uses technology to create a strategic advantage for our firm and our clients,” MP John Whybrew notes on the creation of the CIO position.

More news from Alexander Thompson Arnold

Cotton & Company Names New MP, Structural Changes

Steve Koons

Steve Koons has been elected MP at Cotton & Company of Alexandria, Va. (FY18 net revenue of $30 million), succeeding Matthew Johnson, who had held the post since 2006.

Koons joined the firm in 2010 after working for the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the Office of Inspector General at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and was elected partner in 2014.

The firm also announced that it has restructured its legacy Financial and Information Assurance (IA) practices into new assurance and advisory practices in a realignment that is expected to be largely completed by April. With the aim of enhancing its collaborative, multi-disciplinary service offerings, the assurance practice will focus on federal financial statement audits and related performance audits, while the advisory practice will focus on consulting engagements.

More news from Cotton & Company

Maryland CPAs Seek ‘Essential Business’ Designation During Shutdown

Maryland Gov. Lawrence Hogan this morning ordered all non-essential businesses in the state to close, but the Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA) is asking Hogan to make an exception for CPAs.

Anticipating the shutdown, a March 21 letter to Hogan asked that the CPA profession be included on the list of essential critical infrastructure workforce exceptions.

Tom Hood

MACPA president and CEO Tom Hood requested the designation, which would allow public accountants to go to their physical offices as needed, while maintaining appropriate social distancing by staffing at less than 50% of office capacity. Hood’s argument notes that while many CPAs have implemented remote work, there are some critical functions that are required to be done in the office, including payroll and banking in secure systems, as well as processing mail with checks, invoices and other financial correspondence.

He further argues that CPAs are essential to the U.S. economy due to their work on compliance with federal and state tax and financial reporting requirements, the preparation of taxes, audits and financial reports for business financing and loans, and projections and contingency planning for businesses. And, since the financial services sector has been designated as one of 16 essential critical infrastructure areas by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, MACPA believes CPAs should surely be included in that designation.

This is a fluid situation, so please check with your state societies for any updates.