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News from Your Accounting Association

CPAmerica Advantage Expanding for the future:

VonLehman CPA & Advisory Firm introduces its new M&A advisory practice Earlier this year, member firm (VonLehman), of Fort Wright, Ky., initiated

their M&A Advisory Group. The group is led by Director of M&A Advisory Services Keith Carlson and Manager Emir Hodzic, CPA. We spoke with Carlson to find out more about the group and how it came into being. He said, "I had the benefit of working with VonLehman with mutual clients prior to joining the firm and even before forming the group. During those projects, I was working as a sales-side advisor, bringing VonLehman in as sort of a tax advisor on these occasions, and it really dawned on me that I was missing out on an opportunity to align myself with other individuals that had unique expertise that

could be valuable to clients. Historically, I had always worked around other people with similar experiences. So for me, from a tax and accounting perspective, being able to add that level of expertise to my clients’ situations really made a lot of sense." Carlson later had a conversation with VonLehman’s Managing Partner, Brian Malthouse, and found that he and the firm felt that teaming up would be equitable for everyone. "It really helped that my personal values aligned with the firm’s values, too. That’s isn’t always the case in investment banking and the M&A advisory world. That was a big bonus for me," said Carlson. Carlson, who was previously with Silverstone Capital Advisors, an investment banking firm, currently works with Emir Hodzic. He said Hodzic "was the first individual I had truly worked with at VonLehman. I knew many of the people here, but in terms of where the rubber hits the road concerning engagements, Emir

oes your office environment foster employee engagement? Do your workers feel that they have a voice within your organization? Is it clear that your firm is committed to implementing changes to provide a more desirable place to work?

CPAmerica Surveys P. 1

Member News P. 3 A&A Remarks with Art Winstead P. 4 Hodzic and Brian Malthouse were both involved heavily with those assignments." We asked which industries tend to see the most M&A activity within their group. "Right now, in light of the very favorable seller M&A cycle that we are in, we are really not seeing a specific industry have an uptick right now. They are all really hot. That’s more the nature of the cycle we are in and the day and age of the Baby Boomers deciding that they want to look at liquidity options for their businesses," commented Carlson. He added that the M&A group helped with succession planning, too.

CPAmerica Surveys:


October 2017

CPAmerica’s Employee Engagement and Upward Evaluation surveys give your employees a confidential way to provide honest feedback about your organization and its supervisors. These in-depth customizable tools can help you discover the answers to the above questions and benchmark your progress from year to year. The Employee Engagement Survey identifies key indicators and drivers of employee engagement to help your organization develop an action plan. This roughly 20-minute survey solicits information about firm culture, work environment, employee engagement, and overall job satisfaction. For $750, you will receive complete raw data, a two-page summary report that provides a quick

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See M&A, continued on page 2 CPAmerica's Technology Roundtable - member sharing under the Arizona sun! Taking place in the Wild West city of Tucson, Arizona, CPAmerica IT members meet to stay current on emerging technological trends. Attendees will benefit from personalized agendas and this event is an efficient way for IT'ers to expand their technological knowledge. The Loews Ventana Canyon Resort will host the event on Nov. 12-14. We have reserved a block of rooms at $189/night. To ensure yours at the discounted rate, call the Loews Ventana Canyon at 800234-5117 and reference the code word "CPAmerica" or for more info on the CPAmerica website, visit: Hurry up, partner! Group rate deadline is Oct. 20

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glance of overall results, and a full survey report, which includes analyzed findings for each question. The final report arrives marketed to your firm and ready to share with employees. The Upward Evaluation Survey focuses less on overall firm environment and asks a series of questions about each partner and/or manager to evaluate key aspects of his or her performance. This assessment is intended to help motivate supervisors to achieve their highest potential by reviewing employee responses about their communication, motivation and feedback, training practices, and leadership. When you purchase this survey for $250, you receive the raw data and a brief summary report for each supervisor that we evaluate. Because this survey is in such high demand, we have recently created a premium report that offers an in-depth look at each supervisor’s results and compares their scores to the firm’s overall averages for an additional fee of $750. In addition to these valuable internal assessments, CPAmerica also offers a Client Satisfaction Survey designed to determine overall client satisfaction, identify potential niche services, improve client communication, discover client loyalty drivers, and clarify areas of strength and weakness within your firm. For $750, your firm receives raw survey data and a full report that is ready to share with employees. Firms who participated in the 2016 Human Resources Benchmarking Survey will receive a 10 percent discount on any of the above-mentioned surveys. Member firms also have the option of purchasing a bundle, which includes the Client Satisfaction Survey, Employee Engagement Survey, and Upward Evaluation with basic results for $1,500. Our questionnaires are customizable and we are more than happy to work with your firm to ensure that your firm receives the feedback that you are looking for. Please contact Colleen Gaddy at or (352) 727-4142 for more information on all of CPAmerica’s custom surveys.

When asked how the VonLehman M&A group could benefit CPAmerica member firms and their clients, Carlson responded, "I’ve closed over a hundred deals at this point in my career and I’ve assisted [many] other companies that had M&A or capital raising situations that they were up against, and because of that large base and track record, I feel we can be a very efficient resource for firms and especially their cli ents that are looking for feedback or advice on M&A (or capital raising) related matters. What I like to encourage our member firms and their clients to think about is to think of us as a resource. They can pick up the phone and ask me [M&A related] questions. For me, I feel like that’s a win-win; members and clients can get some nice intelligent answers about a particular M&A situation. During the normal course of these interactions, I hope that I could obtain a transaction advisory assignment [on occasion]." Carlson went on to say that VonLehman’s M&A advisory group’s approach is unique on two different fronts. "One of which is CPA firms and the other is just general M&A advisory firms or investment banking. I’ll touch on CPA firms first. What I can say, at least in my experience, is that with CPA firms, there is usually not one person on hand that can lead, or execute, an entire M&A process. That would include the upfront coaching we provide to business owners that are contemplating a sale or the period in which I’m guiding expectations on valuation and also providing various options they could consider. Really, there is a lot of production of materials that are needed to go to market, such as: data room construction, negotiation of offers, and drafting of non-binding legal documents. So most CPA firms don’t have a person that can literally take something from concept to finish, and I’m that person. I think that makes us unique in that regard. If you’re comparing and contrasting our M&A group at VonLehman relative to other M&A advisory firms, I would say that our approach is different in the sense that we are going to be playing the long game with clients and we will be extremely thorough in explaining our client’s options. The reason I make that distinction is because I find most advisors that I encounter really fail to explain all options at a company’s disposal, whether it be good or bad. We feel it’s important to lay those out for a company that’s considering going through a sale process. Many potential clients I’ve met since I joined VonLehman could benefit by hitting the pause button, letting some people come in and help assist their business by adding the needed systems, processes and procedures before actually going to market. Ultimately, those things can help them get better valuation. I guess the moral of all this is that we are not going to push a deal if it’s not the right thing for the client. What I’ve found here at VonLehman is that accountants, in general, have struggled to understand all the volume of tasks that go into an M&A sell-side assignment. Some people think it’s as easy as connecting a buyer and seller and you’re off to the races, but the process is ... intricate. There’s a lot that goes on from point A to point B. I would encourage anyone who wants to know more about what it entails to reach out to Emir and me and we can give them an idea of what a scope looks like. The VonLehman M&A Group is off to a strong start, too. In the five months since the group’s inception, they have already closed a deal and are actively engaged in three others.

INSIDE Public Accounting names nine CPAmerica firms to their 2017 Best of the Best Firms Since 1994, INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) has named the top 50 Best of the Best Firms in the U.S. Selected and ranked exclusively on performance in profession. It is no surprise that many country. IPA’s proprietary scoring system removes imbalances

Bolar Hirsch & Jennings LLP/Irvine, Calif.; Dennis Gartland & Niergarth/Traverse City, Mich.; Frazier & Deeter, LLC/Atlanta, Ga.; Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP/Raleigh, N.C.; Kassouf & Co./Birmingham, Ala.; Kushner LaGraize, LLC/Metairie, La.; Maxwell Locke & Ritter LLP/Austin, Texas; Accountants, LLC/Overland Park, Kan.; and Erickson, Brown & Kloster, P.C./Colorado Springs, Colo.


Member News Ohio firm Packer Thomas announces new principal

Member firm based in Canfield, Ohio, has announced the promotion of Debra L. Liggett-Dixon, CPA, to principal, effective in October. Liggett-Dixon is a graduate of Youngstown State University and she has more than 30 years of diverse tax experience, specializing in state, local, international, and high- DEBRA LIGGETT-DIXON net-worth individuals. Liggett-Dixon serves as tax director for Packer Thomas. She is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, the Ohio Society of CPAs, and the Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs. Liggett-Dixon has two sons, Tyler and Kyle, and resides in Poland, Ohio.

Mass. firm Gray, Gray & Gray announces promotions

,a Canton, Mass.-based certified public accounting and business advisory firm, announced several promotions recently. Brian Tait has been promoted to senior auditor. Tait joined GG&G as an intern in 2014 before being hired as a staff accountant. He is a graduate of Roger Williams University. Katelyn Correllas has also been promoted to senior auditor. Correllas joined GG&G in 2015, and helps lead audits for clients in a wide range of industries, including energy, manufacturing, financial, and assisted living facilities. She is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University. Dana Fortini was promoted to manager. Fortini joined the firm in 2005 and serves clients in their Restaurant Franchise Practice Group. She is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Ruth Baker was also promoted to manager. Baker joined GG&G in 2008, and previously served as a supervisor in the firm’s Restaurant Franchise Practice Group. She is a graduate of Bryant University. Paul Dussault has been promoted to senior auditor. Dussault joined GG&G in 2015 and is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island. Ashley Oates has been promoted to audit supervisor at the firm. Oates joined GG&G in 2014, and works on audit and review engagements for clients in a variety of industries. She is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and earned her MBA from Johnson & Wales University.

BS&P CPAs and Consultants participates in Day of Caring

Member firm

, with headquarters in Buffalo, N.Y., closed their offices for a day to participate in the 25th United Way of Buffalo & Erie County's Day of Caring which brings people, organizations and resources together to improve community well-being. Employees were bussed to two different

The BS&P crew at the recent United Way's Day of Caring

locations, Corpus Christi Church and the YWCA of WNY. Volunteers at Corpus Christi helped clean the social halls to get them ready to rent out for events while volunteers at the YWCA of WNY assisted with the relocation of the Teen Program from JFK Community Center to School House Commons. Everyone rolled up their sleeves and work together to make a difference for nonprofit agencies in their community and for the people they serve. BS&P feels fortunate to be able to give back to the community and thanked the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County for organizing the event.

Mitchell Wiggins adds two partners, tax director Richmond, Va.-based member firm

announced the promotion of Lea Rasmussen, CPA, to partner and Melissa Sikes, CPA, to partner. The firm also announced that John C. Williams, CPA, was added as tax director. Lea Rasmussen has more than 16 years of professional experience and has aided many nonprofit clients with improving the process of tracking gifts and helping them understand the financial reporting aspect of such transactions. Rasmussen’s proactive planning throughout the year helps reduce clients' tax liabilities and identify possible areas of improvement for business owners. Rasmussen is also a member of the J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Educational Foundation, Finance and Investment Committee and serves as the Treasurer of the Richmond Public Library Foundation. She graduated from

the University of Mary Washington with a bachelor's in accounting. Melissa Sikes has more than 17 years of professional experience. Sikes brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in many industries including healthcare, manufacturing, nonprofit and financial institutions to the firm. Sikes is currently a member of the UMFS Board of Directors, Virginia Manufacturers Association Tax Committee and ChamberRVA Impact Award Committee. She graduated from Bridgewater College with a bachelor's in business administration with a concentration in accounting. As tax director, John Williams earned his bachelor's in business administration and accounting from Washington & Lee University and holds a master's in accounting from the University of Virginia. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Florida firm THF congratulates Walgamott on 40 Under 40 selection

Tallahassee, Fla.-headquartered member firm , congratulated Brian Walgamott on being selected as a CPA Practice Advisor “40 Under 40” honoree. The CPA Practice Advisor’s annual 40 Under 40 program seeks to recognize and support professionals who are making a difference BRIAN WALGAMOTT and are accomplished leaders in the accounting profession. Those selected are considered to be talented individuals with a passion for accounting and are currently developing their own paths to success. The 40 Under 40 honorees are active within the professional community, as well as within their local community, and focus on shaping the profession for future CPAs and highlighting the importance of accounting for all businesses, organizations, and individuals. The 2017 class will ultimately have an influential impact on the accounting and tax profession. Qualifying candidates must demonstrate their accomplishments that have benefited the accounting industry, as well as their commitment to their communities, either through civic involvement or volunteer efforts.


A&A Remarks: Accountants, Auditors and Technology – What’s in our Future? O ne of t he v a r iou s responsibi l it ies I have with CPAmerica is to work with our A&A members as we plan and develop the agenda for our annual A&A Conference. The 2018 A&A Conference A RT W INSTE A D , D IRECTOR OF A&A Planning Committee has done an incredible job getting our June conference organized. Topics have been determined, speakers have been lined up, and evening activities should be exceptional. My point here is not necessarily to promote the 2018 A&A Conference (even though that is part of my responsibility) but to simply throw out some thoughts on a few topics we have scheduled for next year’s conference. For the June 2018 conference, the CPAmerica A&A Conference Planning Committee has devoted time on the agenda for presentations concerning artificial intelligence, blockchain accounting, data analytics, and cybersecurity. While each of these topics are somewhat familiar to all of us, I find blockchain accounting the most fascinating. Reading and attending CPE relative to blockchain accounting has helped me to somewhat understand it. What is blockchain accounting? I have seen and read a number of definitions and theories. The best explanation I have heard came from Trace Mayer, a bitcoin investor, who describes it as “a globally distributed decentralized ledger that everyone has the exact same copy of.” Without spending any time discussing this, imagine the concern if such a ledger existed? However, to alleviate this concern, ledger data privacy would be maintained. It is not hard to imagine the possibility

of a global-in-the-cloud ledger for all transactions, regardless if it’s a financial transaction or other transaction that has value (i.e., contracts and similar agreements). We already operate in similar fashion with our banking, investment, general and dub-ledger applications, medical applications, and our own client electronic file cabinets. Now consider what companies such as Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber, have done. Has the internet become a source of information or a source of value through expedited business transactions? How close is Google to being able to this now?

But the real concern for CPAs could be any, if not all, of the following: 1. Is a worldwide ledger possible for all businesses, countries, and cultures? My thought – sure, but probably not in my lifetime. There is evidence that blockchain implementation may be problematic, as it would require the agreement of countries and governments. 2. Would clients file tax returns? My thought – as in the current trend with the IRS’s current document matching program, perhaps not. Certainly, clients would still need their CPA to advise them on what to buy in order to maximize tax deductions and credits. 3. Would there be currency? My thought – I am not sure, but the introduction of

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bitcoin as a global currency seems to gain acceptance daily and makes me think currency, as we know it today, would not exist. 4. Couldn’t the blockchain be hacked? My thought - as I understand it, all of the transactions recorded would have to be unwound across millions or billions of computers. 5. Lastly, could accountants/auditors become extinct due to a variety of reasons such as all financial transactions would be now accessible in real time? My thought – the audit would not be a transactiondriven process, but could become a process in which financial trust is still needed by stakeholders, but may be easier to achieve. I do want to emphasize that I am not suggesting our profession would disappear. I have long believed, and have said before, that the ability for accountants and auditors to look forward through the front window instead of looking backwards through the rear-view mirror, will make our services even more invaluable and probably will be required some day in the future. I do believe we need to watch, learn, and participate in blockchain opportunities. Our clients surely will. To think that there could be a day when the client’s records are not in a shoebox, what a day that would be! Will we finally have an answer to the question, “Do all of the debits and credits in the world balance?”

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10 2017 advantage final  

This is the October 2017 CPAmerica Advantage newsletter. This month: VonLehman's new M&A group, CPAmerica surveys, and Art Winstead of DMJ b...