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News from Your Accounting Association

CPAmerica Advantage 2018 marks Baum, Smith & Clemens, LLP's 45th

September 2018 Part 2 of 2: Tech Corner article P. 2

Member firm , is making their move – literally – to mark their 45th anniversary. After 36 years of practice at their location in Lansdale, Pa. (BSC has had two previous locations), the firm is relocating to a new space seven miles away in nearby Harleysville, Pa. We spoke to Gary Schultz,

leading partner of BSC, about the firm’s birthday, the move, and how they are celebrating. Schultz said, “It has been low-key so far, I would say – this might have something to do with our recent move. This fall, once we are settled in the new building, we are going to host an open house that will be a joint celebration of both our anniversary and the opening of our new location. Many of our clients and friends of the firm will be on hand; the local chamber of commerce will also be here for an official ribbon cutting ceremony – that is going to add to the fun. You know, this is also our firm’s 15th year with CPAmerica, so it is a double anniversary for us!”

Schultz has been with the firm for Member News P. 3 the past 32 years, getting his start as a staff accountant. He said this about President's Corner - Alan Deichler P. 4 BSC, “Our firm was started in 1973 when two local CPAs, Dick Baum and Jerry Lawrence, joined their practices. They started the firm with only two other people on staff in a small office located in Lansdale, Pa. In 1982, two moves later, they were back to Lansdale, this time on North Broad Street. In 1985, the firm bought out Mr. Lawrence and that was when the firm first became known as Baum, Smith & Clemens, LLP." The last 45 years have been a time of growth for BSC. Schultz elaborated, “We have great clients, many who have been with us a long time. We have more than a handful of clients that have been with us since day one of the firm. We perform many more services now than we did 45 years ago; you have to grow professionally if you want to grow with your clients. We have a great client base and great employees. Really that is why our firm is successful and why our

August 2012 - CPAmerica moved to its present location in Gainesville, Fla., after a complete office makeover. Here, the renovation process is in full swing.

firm has

See 45 years of BSC, continued on page 2

Tech Corner with Randy Johnston: Look to the Future - Protect Your Firm by Being Proactive on AI and Automation This is part 2 of 2 of the Look to the Future article by Randy Johnston of NMGI from the August 2018 Advantage issue. To read part 1, go to: Extract is a document gathering tool that interfaces with various products, including QuickBooks. 1Tap is the first machine learning tool for accounting that has enough sophistication, simplicity, and accuracy to be useful to computer novices. The 1Tap application can be customized with your firm’s branding and delivered to clients for use on mobile devices to capture business documentation and classify it automatically for Schedule C clients. The vendor claims complete accuracy after classifying a transaction one time. Practically speaking, if you use Extract and 1Tap for one to two months with client data, you can expect high accuracy on automatically classifying and matching transactions based on supporting documentation. And We Are Not Done Yet … What can you do now? Recognize that if you keep your

technology current, vendors will make new offerings available to plug into your technology infrastructure. Consider services offered by your firm today or ones you would like to offer in the future. Create an innovation lab, or sandbox, that can be used for testing of new applications and techniques. Listen to your clients’ needs carefully while you are trying to assemble an offering. Test the offering with a few trusted clients and expand the offering into more of your base. Remember that you don’t want to give away the efficiencies gained by reducing fees. Over time, poor competitors are likely to compete on price, but initially you should compete on value. Use the extra time made available by the efficiencies of the application(s) to provide a higher level of service, perform more business development, reduce the workload of your team, or allocate the time to other worthwhile projects in your firm.

Tech Corner, continued on page 2


Tech Corner with Randy Johnston

45 years of BSC, continued from front page

Continued from front page

grown from a staff of four to 28 now. I have been with our firm for 32 years, and there are still seven people who have been here longer than me. I think we do a good job of retaining our people, and even though it seems like it is harder these days, we have to continue to do this if we are going to stay successful because we have a great group of young people currently with the firm.”

Expect some of the applications to not work out as you expect, and act quickly to set these options aside. You may want to hold your work for deployment at a later time once the quality of the products improve and/or become more affordable. Remember to package service offerings as a product and have marketing documentation and procedures to support the offering. Revise the procedures and offering frequently until you have it finely honed to fit your client base. There is broad FOMO (fear of missing out) and vendors are selling many partially baked offerings that aren’t really what is advertised. The keys to the offerings are: do they work sufficiently well today to be useful, are they affordable, and do clients and/or your firm have a better experience while using them? If so, you can innovate with the innovative products today and be ready for the emerging technologies of tomorrow. This is part 2 of 2 of the Webinars as a Training Tool article from the Aug. 2018 Advantage issue. To read part 1, go to:

Monaco said that the idea for employing webinars in this way “came from Todd and I and our other associates at the firm. Your mind is a toolbox. The amount of tools represents the amount of jobs you can get done … that is where the idea [for using webinars as a training tool] came from. We asked how we could bring our people up to speed on subject matter that we would like to teach but do not have the time to put the material together. CPAmerica, through its connections, had the ability to do this." “When we listen to the members, they are asking how they can train their people in a more efficient manner, both in regards to time and best use of dollars. We had 20 people listening to the last webinar that had two hours of CPE available. No one had to travel or worry about taking time off of work – it is very economical. It also shows our associates that we care because the firm is investing two hours; more than the dollar cost of that, we are investing the time, too. You can’t buy time. At the 415 Group, we think about the three C’s: we care about our people, we care about our community, and we care about our clients. “People might not remember what you do or say, but they will always remember how you made them feel. I think if you show you staff that you care about them and invest in them growing as a professional, this is a place that they want to be. [Our webinar training] also helps to retain our people. It is more than just trying to educate and broaden our base so we can bring in more clients. It is also developing our people and making them feel good about themselves and the firm and making them want to stay here.” “Anytime I get to speak in front of business people, I always ask ‘what is your legacy?’ Hopefully with the partners here at 415 Group, the legacy we are leaving our people involves creating relationships; we are investing in people’s dreams and aspirations. We want the best people to come here to work – we want people that are hungry to learn and this webinar staff training is one way to do that.” Ruggles spoke about the challenges involved with staff training. “[The challenge] with all training, with the nature of things chang ing so quickly, is making sure that you have time to take care of your current clients and allocating enough time to be able to look forward and make sure you are ready education-wise. It’s just a balance and a function of time.”


As a member of CPAmerica for more than a decade and a half, BSC has been a steady participant. “The relationship has been very good for us. We are probably like most of the firms in CPAmerica and we take advantage of all the conferences offered that we can. All of our partners have attended at least one conference in their respective area of expertise. We are not one of the larger firms in the association so I think it helps BSC' S new office in Harleysville, Pa. us being around the big firms and compare how we operate. We want to continue to progress and it is helpful to talk to the larger firm association members,” commented Schultz. He also added, “The conferences are forums where we feel comfortable talking about anything. There are a lot of firms our size at the conferences, too, that are good to talk with. We all have the same issues, the same problems and concerns. Everybody is so open when you talk to them. It is a supportive environment to be in – it has been very good for us.” Schultz also mentioned that the firm has benefitted from referrals between member firms, including both giving and receiving. However, “That is not the biggest reason why we became members of CPAmerica, it is just one of the many benefits of participating in an association with like-minded professionals.” Relocating is a big deal and after such a long time at their location in Lansdale, we wondered why they made their move. “We are not moving far from our prior location, we are still in the middle of our client base. We are moving into what I would call a corporate center. I would describe it as a modern, open space that will afford many more team and communication efficiencies than our prior location. We have been in the new space for about a month now and everyone has become acclimated pretty quickly,” Schultz explained. BSC continues to be proactive about the future. Schultz said, “I see us continuing to grow, there are many opportunities out there. We added two new partners to the firm last year, Tad Schantz and Jen Landis, the youngest partners the firm has ever had. They bring a lot of energy and new ideas that will further our growth. They have been a great addition to an already talented partner group that includes Kerry Kulp, Roy Kershaw, Rose Hartle and Chris Waldhof. It was the original partners of BSC – Dick Baum, Judy Smith and Tim Clemens – that set the tone and instigated our growth as a firm that put us on track to still be around 45 years later. And it is the strength and dedication of our current partner group that will see it continue.”


Member News Promotions and new hires announced at Matthews, Cutrer & Lindsay, P.A.

The Ridgeland, Miss.-based accounting firm of P.A., recently announced the promotions of two staff members and the addition of a Public Relations and Marketing Department. Ford Jones and Laura Williams were promoted to supervisor positions, while Chantel Lott joined the firm as director of PR and marketing. Jones and Williams assume the roles of tax and audit supervisors respectively. Jones joined the firm in 2013 and holds a bachelor’s in accounting plus a master’s in taxation from Mississippi State University. Williams, who joined the firm in 2012, is currently pursuing the CPA designation. Williams earned her bachelor’s and master’s in accountancy from Millsaps College. Lott earned a bachelor’s in communication with emphasis in public relations from MSU. She is a member and former board member of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi and a long-time member of the Southern Public Relations Federation.

Brock, Schechter & Polakoff, LLP announces promotions Member firm

, announced the recent promotions of Greg Hack, Craig Haffa, CPA, and Mark Kransler, CPA, to in-charge senior accountants. Hack graduated from the State University of New York GREG HACK at Brockport with a bachelor's in accounting. Haffa graduated with a bachelor's in business administration CRAIG HAFFA with a concentration in accounting and earned his MBA with a concentration in accounting from Niagara MARK KRANSLER University. Kransler received his bachelor's in economics from the University at Buffalo and earned an MBA in accounting from Canisius College.

Arizona member firm WP+D announce six promotions

Chandler, Ariz.-based announced six recent promotions: Jessica A. Cyiza to tax senior; Suzanne M. LaCross, CPA, to tax supervisor; Angela R. Larson, CPA, to tax supervisor; Corey Y. Ng, to audit senior; Hannah J. Oglesby, CPA, CFP®, to tax manager; and Loren J. Pruzin, EA, to tax senior.

SME CPAs announces eight recent promotions at the firm

Headquartered in Augusta, Ga., member firm ), recently announced the following eight promotions: Ben Braxton has been promoted to manager from senior. He joined SME CPAs in 2013 and graduated from Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. David Usry was promoted from senior to manager. He joined the firm in 2015 and graduated from University of Georgia. Renee Reid was promoted from senior to manager. Reid joined the firm in 2016 and graduated from Auburn University. Deanna Guzman was promoted from staff II to senior. She joined the firm in 2014 and graduated from Augusta University. Donna Brunstad was promoted from staff II to senior. She joined the firm in 2016 and graduated from Minnesota State University. Jordan Gray was promoted from staff II to senior. She joined the firm as an intern in 2015 and graduated from Augusta University. Will Evans was promoted from staff II to senior. He joined the firm in 2014 and graduated from University of Georgia. Sandra Hunt was promoted from staff I to staff II. She joined the firm 2017 and graduated from Columbia Southern University.

Thomas Howell Ferguson P.A. CPAs welcomes Battista and Britt to the firm, congratulates Gilman on passing CPA exam

, a professional accounting, assurance, and tax services firm headquartered in Tallahassee, Fla., welcomed Alyson Battista and Travis Britt to their firm. Battista, a Connecticut native, attended Southern Connecticut State University and earned her bachelor’s in business administration. Since 2016, she has been providing assurance services to a variety of industries including not-for-profit, health care, manufacturing, real estate, and other commercial industries. Battista will be working as a senior accountant in the Assurance Services Department. Britt received his bachelor’s in accounting from Flagler College. Since 2014, he has been providing tax services. Britt will be working as a staff accountant in the Tax Services Department. Battista and Britt are both members of the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants (FICPA). , also congratulated Brett Gilman on passing the CPA exam. Gilman received his bachelor’s and master’s in accounting from Florida State University and over the last year, Gilman has gained auditing experience in the

governmental, commercial, not-for-profit, and employee benefit plan industries. and is a member of the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants (FICPA).

Mitchell Wiggins announces promotions and new hires

, a central Virginia-based full-service accounting firm with offices in Richmond and Petersburg, Va., announced the promotions of Jordan Clary to senior accountant; Ryan Edwards, CPA, to senior accountant; Cody Johnson, CPA, to senior accountant; David Ritz, CPA, to supervisor; and DAVID RITZ Matthew Rocawich, CPA, to supervisor. Clary, Edwards and Johnson have been promoted in the Tri-Cities office. The firm also welcomes Sarah Baldwin, Jodi Gibbs, Katherine Nixon, Ashton Reighard, and Joshua MATTHEW ROCAWICH Woodacre to the team. Baldwin steps in as a staff accountant; Gibbs as a tax senior; Nixon as a tax supervisor; Reighard as a staff accountant; and Woodacre as a staff accountant.

Sol Schwartz & Associates, P.C. announces 2018 Accounting Scholarship winner

One smart Aggie! (l to r) Scholarship winner Cynthia Roxane Ruiz, Bennett Allison, Joel Griffith, and Jasmin Ancira

San Antonio, Texas-based member firm , announced the winner of their 2018 Accounting Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes an outstanding student for academic achievement, economic need, and leadership initiative. Cynthia Roxane Ruiz from Texas A&M University, who above and beyond met the criteria, is this year’s recipient. “We are thrilled to award these scholarships to some of the brightest young students majoring in accounting today,” said Bennett Allison, shareholder at the firm.


President's Corner: When Technology And Regulations Clash There are a number of major items facing accounting firms, two of which may be at odds. With the first one, we have heard a great deal about innovative technology and especially how artificial intelligence Alan Deichler (AI) is going to change President the profession. The other is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR from the European Union (EU) sort of snuck up on us, or rather, we really did not see it as impactful to us when announced a couple of years ago. It just might be that the paths of these two items are in conflict. Last fall at the CPAmerica Leading Partner Retreat, participants encouraged the association to become aware of innovative technology for the benefit of alerting the membership to pertinent information. A small committee was created, made up of partners from all disciplines, as well as Randy Johnston and Brian Tankersley, who both helped guide us. (Think of this committee as standing at the top of a mountain, looking in the distance for oncoming changes and poised to yell down to the village in the valley and make all aware of approaching changes.) The committee has met a number of times and has viewed demonstrations from four software developers and two AI platforms. Notes from each meeting can be found on the Communities tab on the CPAmerica website. We have not yet found much to “yell down to the village” about, but we have learned quite a bit. A key item is that while we have not found true AI software available to mid-tier firms, we have learned that becoming aware of technology; new

processes; one-off efforts of major firms; and terms and vernacular is important to being prepared for pending change. One other item we learned is that AI will need to absorb a great deal of data in order to actually learn. In accounting firms, that data could translate to millions of client records of tax, audit, and advisory work. Think of AI as a young child learning. They have to be exposed to a lot of information to learn. AI is no different. Nearly all AI applications will be cloudbased, as are most new audit and accounting software offerings. Many of these pre-AI audit cloud-based software offerings will literally access client information from client accounting packages. Of course, permissions will be obtained, but it will be from a large amount of client data in firm audit packages (and firm IT systems), all stored in the cloud.

data is maintained, allow EU citizens to manage their data, have their information deleted, if desired, and to make EU citizens aware of a data breach within 72 hours, should one occur. There are many questions about how U.S. organizations must comply – but this article is not going to try to address this. There is discussion that there may be a number of U.S. states that are seriously looking at implementing their own version of GDPR. Experts agree that the direction of data protection in the U.S. is more like the GDPR than not. So, the conflict is between one item, AI, that is said to require millions of pieces of data to learn and another, GDPR, that is restrictive on how you can use and maintain data. It will be interesting to see how technology and individual privacy can find a way to exist together. As we proceed down both paths, we will be on the lookout for approaching changes.

Now comes the GDPR from the EU. It is a regulation that is designed to protect personal data and give individuals the right to manage their own data that may reside in any organization. It went into effect in the EU on May 25 of this year. It also effects all U.S. organizations that maintain any kind of data on EU citizens. Contracts, proposals, emails, pictures, inquiries, and any other type of EU citizen information qualify as EU personal data. This also means that prior to giving access to our data containing EU citizen information to outside organizations, we must first get approval from EU citizens. You may have recently noticed all the new disclaimers and cookies notifications when browsing websites. The GDPR requires organizations to be aware of where EU citizen data is stored within their systems, notify EU citizens that

CPAmerica Preferred Provider Spotlight:

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You can visit AuditSense, LLC at: CPAmerica is proud to welcome AuditSense, LLC as a new preferred provider for the association. This new relationship gives professionals at member firms access to training and consulting services in the areas of audit efficiency/effectiveness, staff development, accounting and auditing updates, and leadership and soft skills.

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09 2018 CPAmerica Advantage newsletter  

This month's newsletter comprises articles on: Baum, Smith & Clemens, LLP's 45th anniversary; part two of Tech Corner with Randy Johnston; M...

09 2018 CPAmerica Advantage newsletter  

This month's newsletter comprises articles on: Baum, Smith & Clemens, LLP's 45th anniversary; part two of Tech Corner with Randy Johnston; M...