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Former Grant Thornton CEO Mike McGuire to Retire

Mike McGuire

Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY18 net revenue of $1.87 billion) has announced that the former CEO, Mike McGuire, will retire in February.

McGuire served as Grant Thornton’s CEO from 2014 to 2019, transitioning to the role of CEO emeritus last August. He was succeeded in the CEO post by Bradley J. Preber.

One of his accomplishments during his tenure was improving firm culture and investing in a brand development program. Under his leadership, the firm added large clients, recorded record revenues and produced audit-quality results that are some of the best in the accounting profession, the firm says.

“Participating in this work as a teammate, partner and leader has been the greatest honor of my professional life,” McGuire says in a statement.

Preber adds, “Mike has been an outstanding colleague and leader for our firm – and a good friend to all of us – for the past 17 years. Without his leadership, we would not be the firm we are today, with a clear opportunity to compete and win at the highest levels of our profession.”

Before taking the helm at Grant Thornton, McGuire served in several leadership posts, including national MP of markets, industry, people and culture. He joined Grant Thornton in 2002 after 20 years at Arthur Andersen.

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Grant Thornton Announces First COO, Other Leadership Changes

Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY18 net revenue of $1.87 billion) has named Jim Peko as its first chief operating officer (COO) and David Hazels is taking the helm of its advisory services practice.

Renato Zanichelli will lead its tax services practice. The firm has also tapped Jamie Fowler for a new leadership role steering its transformation initiatives. Additionally, the firm selected Nichole Jordan as the new leader for its Central region.

As national MP of advisory services, Hazels will oversee the strategic direction and operations for a range of service areas – from growth and operations to risk and diligence, as well as public-sector capabilities. Hazels joined Grant Thornton in 2002 and most recently served as the firm’s national MP of risk services.

“David brings a broad and varied background to a highly dynamic business,” says CEO Brad Preber. “He has the acumen, prescience and leadership skills we need to meet fluid client needs in the decade ahead.”

In assuming his new post, Hazels frees his predecessor – Peko – to become Grant Thornton’s COO. Peko will work directly with Preber to drive the firm’s performance across all its service lines and help clients meet changing audit, tax and advisory needs.

“Jim’s track-record of smart decisions across our firm will give him the perspective needed to make critical operational choices for both today and tomorrow. He is the perfect fit for this role,” says Preber.

Peko joined the firm in 2006 and has nearly 30 years of experience. He has served as a member of the firm’s partnership board and held numerous leadership roles.

Zanichelli will assume the role of national managing partner of tax services. He joined the firm in 1994 and most recently served as national MP of tax reporting and advisory. Zanichelli succeeds Fowler in his new role, allowing her to become the firm’s first national MP for transformation. In her new role, Fowler will lead Grant Thornton in creating new products and services for its clients, while also steering the firm’s own technology infrastructure and internal transformation efforts. Fowler has held a number of leadership roles at Grant Thornton since joining the firm in 2003, including MP of the Atlantic Coast region.

Jordan will take over as regional MP of Grant Thornton’s Central region. She has held a number of leadership roles at Grant Thornton since joining the firm in 2003. She most recently served as Grant Thornton’s national MP of markets, clients and industry. Jordan takes over the Central region role from Wally Gruenes, who will retire in August 2020.

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Grant Thornton Names Bradley Preber as CEO

Bradley Preber

Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY18 net revenue of $1.87 billion) announces that Bradley Preber has been selected as the firm’s CEO by the partnership board.

The board appointed Preber to the role following a comprehensive search process, and the firm’s partners and principals ratified the selection.

Preber has been serving as Grant Thornton’s interim CEO since June 2019, and will now serve as the firm’s CEO through July 31, 2022, which is his mandatory retirement date.

“Brad is a decisive leader who believes in delivering exceptional value to clients,” says Jim Wittmer, chairman of the firm’s partnership board. “As CEO, Brad will fuel Grant Thornton’s continued success providing innovative audit, tax and advisory services built on a foundation of quality.”

Preber says, “Today’s businesses face formidable challenges – from accelerating growth and keeping pace with technology to mitigating risks and enhancing audit quality. As CEO, I will help Grant Thornton build on our track record of helping clients overcome these challenges through our uniquely differentiated client services, and our singular ‘status go’ culture.”

Preber joined Grant Thornton in 2004, after serving as a partner at Arthur Andersen. He has held numerous leadership roles at Grant Thornton.

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Grant Thornton Looking to Boost Profits in U.K.

Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY18 net revenue of $1.86 billion) has had a difficult year in the U.K., parting ways with about a dozen partners as it recovers from intense criticism over its audits of Patisserie Valerie and the controversial departure of its former chief executive, the Financial Times reported.

Grant Thornton told firm leaders that 6% of the total number of partners were leaving as it works to improve profits. The newspaper reported that 2018 profits fell by 8% to £72 million and revenue dropped from £500 million to £491 million. That pushed down partner earnings to less than what they made in 2015, when Sacha Romanovitch became chief executive.

An insider told the Financial Times that it was “not a night of the long knives”, but that some partners who were nearing retirement had been “moved on more quickly” as the firm attempts to rein in “legacy costs” related to its former leadership.

Jonathan Riley, head of quality and reputation at Grant Thornton, said the departures represented “a combination of factors including early retirement and some people whose roles no longer exist because of recent restructures and a change of focus around our client base generally.”

The new CEO, David Dunckley, who took over in November, has cut administrative staff and risky clients to turn around the firm’s fortunes.

One of the controversies dogging the firm is an investigation by the Financial Reporting Council for failing to spot a suspected serious fraud at bakery chain Patisserie Valerie.

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Grant Thornton Announces Promotions

Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY18 net revenue of $1.87 billion) has admitted 42 new partners and principals, and promoted 39 to managing director.

“Providing our clients with distinctive service, quality results and innovative thinking is what makes Grant Thornton stand out among professional services firms, and we’re proud to count these dynamic new leaders as an important part of our team,” says Bradley Preber, interim CEO of Grant Thornton.

By service line, advisory accounted for the largest number of promotions (43%), followed by tax (28%), audit (25%), and internal client services (4%).

The newly admitted partners are:

  • Danny Allustiarti, audit, San Jose, Calif.
  • Melissa Black, tax, Chicago
  • Eddie Demosthenes, audit, Phoenix
  • Adam Erickson, audit, Minneapolis
  • Bob Forchetti, audit, Philadelphia
  • Laura Frei, audit, Dallas
  • George Geyer, audit, Philadelphia
  • Jeremy Goss, audit, New York
  • Jon Haugeberg, tax, Chicago
  • Hunter Jackson, audit, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Carl Kenyon, tax, Houston
  • Dan Lynes, tax, New York
  • Patrick McAuley, advisory, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Brandan McGaughey, audit, Houston
  • Russell Norris, tax, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Jared Novotny, tax, Minneapolis
  • Shalin Pathak, audit, Chicago
  • Jason Pizza, advisory, Chicago
  • Peter Poulos, tax, Chicago
  • Steven Propester, audit, Oklahoma City
  • Frank Russo, tax, New York
  • Chris Sheehy, audit, Dallas
  • Angie Sosa, tax, Reno, Nev.
  • Bryan Walker, advisory, San Francisco
  • Edward Weaver, tax, Chicago
  • Stacey Whitfield, audit, Columbia, S.C.

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Peko to Lead Grant Thornton’s National Advisory Services Practice

Jim Peko

Jim Peko

Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY18 net revenue of $1.87 billion) has named Jim Peko as the national MP of its advisory services practice.

Peko succeeds Srikant Sastry, who is credited with transforming the advisory practice into a full-service consultancy that has nearly doubled in size and revenue over the past five years.

Peko most recently served as national MP of the firm’s transaction services practice, where he guided a wide range of clients through a variety of complex transactions. The practice grew 17% annually over the last three years. Peko has served as a member of the firm’s partnership board for the past 20 months. In 2018, Consulting magazine named Peko a “Top 25 Consultant.”

“Jim has built a high-growth practice focused on creating value in a volatile market, and he has done so through innovative leadership and a people-first management style,” says Brad Preber, interim CEO of Grant Thornton. “He takes over a well-positioned advisory practice, and we know Jim will help our clients continue to grow and thrive.”

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Grant Thornton and Ephesoft Form Alliance

Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY18 net revenue of $1.9 billion) has formed an alliance with Ephesoft, a provider of enterprise content capture and data discovery solutions.

Grant Thornton now offers Ephesoft Smart Capture® solutions to clients so they can manage unstructured data. This helps companies improve invoicing, accounts payable and contract management. It also helps simplify complex tasks, such as taxes and revenue recognition.

“Today’s businesses struggle with reams of documents and large volumes of unstructured data,” says Nick Vellani, advisory practice leader for the Central region at Grant Thornton. “This creates workflow and collaboration nightmares – which is where Ephesoft comes in.”

Ephesoft offers a customizable platform for both cloud and on-premises architectures, allowing companies to streamline their document capture processes across networks, departments and locations.

“Ephesoft’s patented, supervised machine learning technology reduces the overall document processing time by an average of 65% and increases employee productivity by as much as 400%,” said Ike Kavas, founder and CEO of Ephesoft. “Now we can work with Grant Thornton to help more clients in more locations gain control over their documents and unstructured data.”

Grant Thornton has already deployed the Ephesoft platform for several clients, and uses it in-house to improve the tax services it provides to clients.

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Grant Thornton Names Alan Herrmann as West Region Tax Practice Leader

Alan Herrmann

Chicago-based Grant Thornton LLP (FY18 net revenue of $1.9 billion) has named Alan Herrmann as the firm’s West region tax practice leader. In his new role, Herrmann will manage tax operations across Grant Thornton’s 13 West region offices to expand the firm’s presence, collaborate across service lines and develop talent.  “Alan has proven himself to be an impressive tax professional dedicated to creating innovative solutions that best meet the needs of our clients,” says Brian Lucas, national tax operations leader at Grant Thornton. “His business acumen and leadership skills will spur continued growth across the firm’s West region.”

Herrmann joined Grant Thornton in 2002, and has experience in the taxation, planning and structuring of consolidated corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies and S corporations. He works with clients across numerous industries to provide tax planning services and consults on specific tax issues, such as ASC 740, reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions, and accounting methods. He is also actively involved with Grant Thornton’s Washington National Tax Office.

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Grant Thornton Announces Leadership Transition

Chicago-based Grant Thornton LLP (FY18 net revenue of $1.9 billion) announced that CEO Mike McGuire will assume the role of CEO emeritus, effective Aug. 1. In this role, McGuire will serve as a brand ambassador for the firm, focusing on business development and supporting key client relationships. McGuire also will help execute a seamless leadership transition for the firm.

“It has been the honor of my life to lead Grant Thornton over the past five years, and I am so proud of all we’ve accomplished as a team,” says McGuire. “Our firm is on a great path to continue to create value for our clients, build on our leading quality and culture, accelerate innovation and growth, and disrupt our profession.”

Mike McGuire

“As fast as the marketplace is changing,” McGuire continued, “I believe we now need to transition as quickly as possible to new leadership that can take us on the next leg of our journey to become the ‘firm of the future’ over the next five years or more. I will do everything in my power in the coming years to help the firm navigate this transition and continue to succeed.”

Since becoming CEO in 2015, McGuire and his leadership team have steered Grant Thornton to record-setting revenue and driven its audit quality results to the top of the profession, while also investing in the firm’s culture and brand. In addition, under McGuire’s leadership, Grant Thornton has invested in innovative capabilities aimed at transforming the professional services industry in the years to come. The Partnership Board released a statement saying that, “Mike McGuire has taken our firm from the ‘now’ to the ‘next’ and on to the ‘new,’ and we thank him for his vision and leadership.”

The Partnership Board will continue its previously announced long-term CEO succession process that is currently underway with a leading executive consulting firm.

Bradley J. Preber

The firm will be led by Bradley J. Preber who will serve as interim CEO-elect, effective immediately, working closely with McGuire and other members of the senior leadership team until formally accepting the position of interim CEO on Aug. 1. Preber is currently the chairman of the Partnership Board and national managing partner of Business Risk Services for the firm. He also serves as the Phoenix OMP. Preber will temporarily step aside from these roles while he serves as interim CEO. Preber has served in a number of executive roles since joining the firm from another global public accounting firm in 2003.

Preber said, “Mike McGuire has positioned the firm well for future success, and I am prepared to lead our firm forward as our board continues the succession process.”

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Grant Thornton’s Tax Practice Embraces Data Visualization

Chicago-based Grant Thornton (FY17 net revenue of $1.8 billion) has equipped the 1,600 professionals in its tax practice with Microsoft Power BI a data visualization tool. The firm announced that the move demonstrates Grant Thornton’s commitment to innovative technologies that benefit clients. While we mention data visualization tool, there are also a variety of Online Collaboration Tools that companies may be able to implement within their business to help boost team productivity. When it comes to running a business, there’s so much to manage, so anything that can make it easier is worth looking into at least. If a business is utilizing Microsoft Office software packages, they may also wish to implement end user experience monitoring to keep track of how the software is performing and if its use is benefitting the business.

Using Power BI, Grant Thornton will be able to aggregate large amounts of data into graphs and charts that tax professionals can instantly understand helping them go beyond spreadsheets. Making Microsoft Power BI available to all professionals at every level of the tax practice reflects our belief that data is the future of tax accounting and professional services, says Jamie Fowler, national MP of tax services.

Applying data visualization tools to tax data makes it easy for anyone to understand a company’s tax position, and anyone can learn how to use it by taking things like this Power BI course. Moreover, it can yield unexpected business insights. Because tax information touches almost every aspect of a business from sales to compensation, performing data visualizations as part of a tax engagement often provides revelations that go beyond taxation, adds Fowler.

Power BI will complement Grant Thornton’s previous deployments of data-visualization software and also serve as the foundation for new offerings. All Grant Thornton tax professionals are receiving extensive training in Power BI and related efforts.

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