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News from Your Accounting Association

CPAmerica Advantage December 2017 CPAmerica's 2018 A&A Conference P. 2 CPAmerica member firms understand the idea of building a strong brand in order to increase exposure in the marketplace and increase their recruiting and retention efforts. We spoke to Brenda Jacobs, CPA, partner with Brickley DeLong, PC, with headquarters

in the scenic shoreline city of Muskegon, Mich., about their firm’s recruiting initiative with Grand Valley State University (GVSU), namely, the West Michigan Local Advantage Leadership Day (LALD). LALD is a one-day event for the purpose of recruiting college accounting students for internship positions with local accounting firms. When we asked Jacobs how the participants initially came together to put together the LALD, she said, “In 2016, GVSU, the largest university in our area, connected us through their Career Services Office. One of the big frustrations in recruiting has been that we come against the instructors pushing the bigger firms to the students. We asked the people at career services what we could do to change that. It’s kind of hard to change what the professors are promoting, but they

came up with this idea of having sevMember News P. 3 eral local (West Michigan) firms band together. With LALD, there were just President's Corner - Alan Deichler P. 4 five of us. We actually got to get to know these students and they got to know us. Word has spread by those in attendance about what a great experience they had learning about our firms and the internships that were secured as a result. The university CPAmerica's 2018 Next Generation Conference set for was gracious enough to do some of the legDenver in May work and assemble a small group. For the CPAmerica's Next Generation events, they allowed us to utilize their faciliConference is set for Denver, ties free of charge and they even provided Colorado, in the center of the Mile afternoon snacks for [participants.]” High City. The luxurious Westin It wasn’t easy going at first. “When we started getting heavily into pre-recruiting at GVSU, we struggled. At the first prerecruiting event that I attended, we didn’t know what to expect and were surprised to see how elaborate some of the booths were. We got our game on after that,” said Jacobs.

Denver Downtown Hotel will host the annual event on May 16-18. Registration opens on Dec. 1, 2017; new attendees can choose the Intro Track and returning participants can opt for the Advanced Track. For more info on the CPAmerica website, visit and sign in at: ybr77oed

“We invited one of the representatives of the Career Services Office to our Muskegon office to visit our firm. We are located on the shore of Lake Michigan; our offices look over

See Recruiting, continued on page 2

Since as far back as 2008, CPAmerica has been offering yearly subscriptions to First Research, a provider of market analysis tools, at a substantial savings over nonCPAmerica subscribers. An additional benefit available only to CPAmerica subscribers is that a firm’s subscription allows them to receive unlimited access to First Research. First, let’s go over the basics. What is First Research? This CPAmerica Preferred Provider prepares timely information on more than 900 industry segments

that cover your prospects’ niches and is written in helpful and current business

language that is constantly updated with economic data and industry news. At a one-year subscription price of only $1,595 (a savings of up to $8,395 over non-CPAmerica subscribers!), member firms can immediately receive the industry expertise they need to be prepared for their next prospecting call, client meeting, presenta-

tion or proposal. First Research is a great way to position your firm before you get in front of your clients or a prospect. In 2017, CPAmerica has already seen 25 member firms sign up for a First Research subscription; the majority of these firms use the service year after year because of its value and offering for enhanced client communications. Larry Cooper, partner with member firm Brickley DeLong, PC, of Muskegon, Mich., (and long-time subscriber) said about the service, “First Research is a great resource for learn-

See First Research, continued on page 2

Top speakers lined up for CPAmerica's 2018 A&A Conference in Miami Beach CPAmerica members will be heading to Miami Beach on June 5-8, 2018 for the A&A Conference. The event is set for the amazing St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami Beach, Florida and registration is now open on the CPAmerica website: > News and Events > Upcoming Events > See All or here: https://















This year's conference will feature the following respected industry speakers covering a multitude of pertinent A&A topics: 1. David Chitty, BA, FCA of Crowe Horwath International 2. David Cieslak of Arxis Financial Inc. 3. Rich Daisley of Surgent CPE 4. Bill Godshall of member firm Frazier & Deeter, LLC 5. Ahava Goldman of the AICPA 6. Juan Gonzalez of the Gazelles Growth Institute 7. Randy Johnston of Network Management Group, Inc. 8. Wayne Kerr of AuditWatch 9. Sara Maxwell of member firm Maxwell Locke & Ritter LLP 10. Stuart Paap of Pitch DNA 11. Chandler Russell of member firm Thomas Howell Ferguson, P.A. 12. Tim Weidman of member firm Frankel Zacharia, LLC 13. Art Winstead of CPAmerica International 14. Jim Woy of Anderson ZurMuehlen & Co., P.C.

Recruiting, continued from front page

First Research, continued from front page

Muskegon Lake. It’s a beautiful setting. The representative won dered, ‘Why wouldn’t someone want to come work here?’ The reason is that the students aren’t aware of the area unless they are from here. That’s part of putting our name out there. I’m on a panel at GVSU representing some of the smaller accounting firms and the representative always brings that up. The univer sity really started promoting us because of our earlier invitation to visit our firm. It was hard as a local firm. If the schools don’t know a whole lot about you, it’s hard to get the word out about your firm.”

ing about the various industries that we serve and the challenges that they face and opportunities that they have.” First Research also provides industry profiles, call prep sheets, geographical profiles, and an industry prospector as part of the subscription.

The LALD advantage over the larger firms recruiting in the area is that it exudes a down-home and personal feel to the recruits. Jacobs described this year’s agenda: “We focused on team building throughout the day with a scavenger hunt on an online app in downtown Grand Rapids. What fun! Lunch was in small groups of five to six students and two firm representatives. This provided a small, relaxed group setting where students felt comfortable talking and asking questions. On the walk back to campus, I had students tell me how great the interaction was and how much more approachable we seemed than with the representatives at the big firm events. This is what we wanted to accomplish. We wanted students to realize that if they are looking for interactions with all levels of people within a firm, local firms are a great fit.” The afternoon was moderated by Kristen Rampe of Kristen Rampe Consulting. She started by introducing the panel and playing “Two Truths and a Lie,” playing trivia about CPA firms (utilizing a game show-type approach), and followed up with another team building activity. The day ended with a Q&A and networking session. We asked how LALD has evolved. Jacobs answered, “Last year,

See Brickley DeLong, continued on page 4


Whether your firm has one user or more than 10, CPAmerica’s exclusive relationship with First Research allows everyone to receive unlimited access as subscribers. We asked Adam Davey, a shareholder at member firm VonLehman CPA & Advisory Fir m, in For t Wright, Ky., about his firm’s use of First Research. He said, “I have found First Research to be a very useful tool for quickly getting me up to speed on key issues in industries that I may not have significant experience with. This is helpful especially when meeting with prospects or newer clients.” CPAmerica reaches out every year to all our member firms to sign up for First Research, but as often the case when dealing with tax deadlines, conferences and client meetings, a reminder helps to put this to the forefront. To see the order subscription PDF, go to: yajuqcu8 or you can log in and go to the Preferred Provider page on the CPAmerica website to register (www.cpamerica. org > Services > First Research). For more information on First Research, contact Kyle Perseo at: or call: (352) 727-4136.

Member News Contryman Associates, P.C. announces four new shareholders Member firm

, with headquarters in Hastings, Neb., recently announced four shareholders. Jeni Charron, shareholder since 2016, is the chief compliance officer and operations manager for the firm's subsidiary company, She has been with the firm since 2006, is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF). Jed German, CPA, started his public accounting career with the firm in 2007 and is a tax and accounting shareholder at the Lexington, Neb., location. German started at the firm's Grand Island, Neb., location and moved to the Lexington, Neb., location to become a shareholder of the firm. Andy Wichelt, CPA, started his public accounting career with the firm in 2005 and is a tax and accounting shareholder at the Hastings, Neb., location. Wichelt started at the Lexington, Neb., location and recently moved to the Hastings, Neb., location to become a shareholder of the firm. Jill Clay, CPA, started her public accounting career in 2003 and joined the firm in 2013. Clay has worked from both the Grand Island and Hastings, Neb., locations while employed with the firm and specializes in audit and attest engagements. She is responsible for engagements in employee benefit plans, governmental entities, not-for-profit organizations, and for-profit businesses.

Member firm GMP hosted an escape room for UT Tyler's Beta Alpha Psi professional organization Tyler, Texas-based member firm Gollob Morgan Peddy PC (GMP), recently hosted an escape room adventure for members of the UT Tyler Beta Alpha Psi professional organization for students of accountance, finance, and informational systems. This physical adventure game teamed students, employees and partners as they solved a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints and strategy to complete the objectives and escape the room. GMP would like to thank all the participants and the staff of the GET OUT Escape Room.

Two new partners for member firm Catanese Group

Jessica Dunlap, CPA, CFE, of Johnstown, Pa.-based member firm joined the firm in 2013 and was promoted from audit manager to audit partner this year. After working in JESSICA DUNLAP industries such as retail, manufacturing, and professional services, Dunlap will oversee audit, business management, and accounting engagements. She recently became a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). She has a bachelor's in accounting from University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and an MBA from Saint Francis University. Sean Wonderling, CPA, was promoted to tax partner after being a member of the firm for 14 years. He began his career as an intern in 2003 and eventually became a tax supervisor and tax manager before becoming partner this year. He works on tax and business consulting engagements SEAN WONDERLING for both businesses and individuals. He has a bachelor's in accounting from Mount Aloysius College.

Coulter & Justus, P.C. named one of 2017 Accounting Today’s Best Accounting Firms to Work For

Knoxville, Tenn.-based was recently named as one of Accounting Today’s 2017 Best Accounting Firms to Work For. Accounting Today has partnered with Best Companies Group to identify companies that have excelled in creating quality workplaces for employees. This survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best employers in the accounting industry. “It’s a significant honor to be recognized, as competition for the award includes a long list of excellent firms, and all firms are now evolving to be the employers of choice in the war for talent,”said Mike Parton, managing principal of Coulter & Justus, P.C. Companies from across the U.S. entered the two-part survey process to determine Accounting Today’s Best Accounting Firms to Work For and the combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall survey process and determined the final ranking.

Aldrich welcomes Zettle as he rejoins firm as CFO

Salem, Ore.-based announced that Lucas Zettle will be rejoining the firm as the chief financial officer. Zettle began his accounting career as an associate with Aldrich in 2010 and later moved on to private industry to expand his LUCAS ZETTLE breadth of financial knowledge. Prior to rejoining Aldrich, Zettle developed significant operational expertise at Webtrends, a web analytics company located in Portland, Ore. Zettle also served as corporate controller and vice president of finance and sales operations for Webtrends, supporting the company through major strategic decisions. He now brings a wealth of experience in key financial and operational areas to his new position at Aldrich. Zettle will be based out of the firm's Lake Oswego office in Oregon.

Promotions took center stage at member firm Thomas Howell Fersuson P.A. CPAs (THF), headquartered in Tallahassee, Fla., congratulated Ying Wang on her promotion to senior manager; Alyssa Roti, Paola Blackburn, and Elaine Sutter on their promotions to manager; and Jeannie Lim on her promotion to retirement plan specialist. All these promotions took place within the Tax Services Department. Wang received her bachelor's from Sichuan University, along with her master’s in accounting and in taxation from Georgia State University. Roti received her bachelor’s in accounting and her master’s in taxation from Florida State University. Blackburn graduated from Florida State University with her bachelor’s in accounting. Sutter received her bachelor’s in marketing with a minor in mathematics from Walsh University and her master’s in taxation from Florida State University. Elaine is a CPA and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). Lim received her bachelor’s in mathematics from De La Salle University and a bachelor’s in accounting from Florida Metropolitan University. THF also announced the promotions of Chandler Russell and Allan Franklin to seniors in the Assurance Services Department and Lee Lovett, Phil Focaracci, and Samantha Pettis to seniors in the Tax Services Department.


President's Corner: 2017 VIP in the Books As I write this, I’m t raveling f rom our fi n a l Visitation Improvement Program (VIP) visit for 2017 and going to our second annual Valuation & L it igat ion Ser v ices Meeting. This wraps A L AN D EICHLER up our fifth year of VIP P RESI DENT sessions. Feedback from members indicate that the program continues to be a big success. If you are unaware of the program, VIP brings two visiting leading partners to a host firm for two days of dinners, meetings, a pre-visit survey, employee interviews and other interactions. This leads up to a final sharing of visitor observations with the home firm. It’s a little like a consulting project, but in this case, co-members are providing their feedback and there is no pressure for them to come up with an exciting and unusual finding that you might expect from a paid consultant. These are trusted friends sharing their thoughts and input based on their view of the operations of the visited firm. It’s not technical and it’s certainly not as severe as a peer review. The partners’ report may discuss the success they have observed or may share concerns about what they saw or heard during their visit. Sometimes, visiting partners share their own firm’s best practices that they found worked for them. They may even share the less-thansuccessful programs they implemented in order to help the host firm avoid similar pitfalls.

The association has just finished the fifth year of the program, during which we have conducted 89 visits with 186 visitor opportunities, with the understanding that some of our larger firms required more than two visitors. Three great things have come from the VIP offerings. The first benefit (and the one we expected) is that the visited firm gets the views of trusted allies with no additional expense, other than their time. VIP is association-funded. The other benefits were not expected. With the second benefit, some visitors have claimed to be getting more out of the visit than the host firm! Whether or not this is always the case, visitors are finding great rewards in volunteering to spend two days at a host firm. Finally, an unexpected and amusing outcome of the VIP relates to the annual Leading Partners Retreat (LPR), where we used to take 15-20 minute breaks at the event. No more. This is because we can’t get leading partners, now acquainted through a previous VIP visit, back to the meeting’s session. 186 opportunities for partners to get to know each other has caused them to want to catch up and visit. Breaks at LPR are now 30 minutes long and the “chimes” still have to be used to round everyone back up.

an equal chance to visit a firm; taking into consideration their size, number of locations, operational design and niches served. We look forward to visiting your firm again soon. Best wishes for a strong finish to the year!

We are in the midst of setting up the 2018 VIP visits. The plan is to make sure we visit any firm we missed in our first four-year phase, as well as any of our new member firms. After scheduling these firms, we will offer second VIP visits to firms starting in the order initially received in 2013 and 2014. We also are keeping track of visitors and doing our best to give everyone

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Brickley DeLong, continued from page 2 we had a marketing and recruiting director that really did a lot of the legwork for Brickley DeLong – she is no longer with the firm. Our firm administrator has taken on that role this year. I participated in the event this year; last year, we had limited it to 50 participants and had about 30 people sign up. For a first year event, we felt that was pretty good. This year, we have lim ited enrollment to 40 participants in order to keep the team-building groups … small enough that everyone has a chance to talk to the representatives from the firms and not feel like they are just one of a big group. It’s manageable for the firm and also it

keeps that personal touch for the students.” Students from GVSU, Davenport University, Aquinas University, and Calvin College all participated in LALD this year. “One thing in the [scheduling] of the event was that we had to time it so it was good for everybody. But because it was GVSU that was putting this all together and we were hosting it at the university’s downtown campus, we wanted to cater to their schedule,” said Jacobs. This is part one of two of this recruiting and retention article with Brenda Jacobs of Brickley DeLong, PC. Part two will be printed in the next Advantage newsletter

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12 2017 advantage final  

This is the December 2017 issue featuring articles on recruiting & retention from Brickley DeLong, PC; First Research market analysis tool;...