Companies in the clean tech industry are
garnering more attention these days, especially from CPA firms that see the sector as
having big potential for growth.
For Chicago-based BDO, serving the clean
tech industry is nothing new. The firm has
been working with clients within the channel,
which includes alternative energy producers,
for several years. What is new, however, is that
over the last year the firm created a firm-wide
clean tech initiative to focus more on developments in the field. “We have teams in various offices across the country that have heavy
client bases in areas that could be defined
as clean tech,” said Lee Duran, an assurance
partner in BDO’s San Diego office.
In March, BDO released its 2010 Technology Outlook Survey that polled 100 chief
financial officers at technology companies
about clean tech. Two thirds, or 66 percent,
said that they were interested in clean technology. Forty-three percent of CFOs surveyed
reported that they produce clean tech products or services, and 46 percent use products
or services from clean technology vendors.
Duran stressed that companies that offer
clean tech services or products need the traditional services of a CPA firm. And because
of new incentives, such as tax credits, unique
accounting and reporting issues for joint ventures that support wind or solar projects, and
different aspects of revenue recognition and
long-term contracting, the area now represents a hotbed of engagement possibilities.
Scott Appel, local leader of the alternative
energy practice and partner-in-charge of
the Irvine, Calif., office of Hein & Associates,
agreed: “We’re providing traditional audit
and tax services, but if you think about the
nature of a lot of these businesses, there’s a
great focus on capital formation. There’s a lot
of capital-raising going on, and traditionally,
accounting firms are involved in providing
service around those types of transactions.”
CPAs explore clean tech services
BY LIZ GOLD
arena totaled $5.6 billion for 2009. Wind energy — the sector most heavily invested in by
U.S. utilities — continued to be a significant
investment area in 2009. Global Fortune 500
companies, as well as energy and consumer
and industrial product companies, made
large investments in clean tech as well.
Aside from facilitating deals between clean
tech companies and venture capitalists, CPAs
can assist businesses in monitoring and reporting their carbon emissions.
WHERE THE GREEN IS
Despite the financial gloom of the past two
years, there has been a flurry of venture capital investments in clean technologies.
According to preliminary data released in
January by the Cleantech Group, a facilitator
of clean technologies, and Big Four firm Deloitte, venture investments in the clean tech
For more on opportunities in clean tech,
see our Q&a with Haskell & White’s Lee
Barken in the expanded version of this article at accounting Today.com, and for more
on Cpa firms’ green initiatives, see our
practice resources section on page 30.
This will be big business in the near term,
despite uncertain regulation, according to a
January report released by energy and sus-
tainability consulting concerns Groom En-
ergy Solutions and Pure Strategies: “As inves-
tors, customers, employees, communities and
governments insist on more accurate carbon
emission data, organizations are beginning to
track carbon emissions as rigorously as they
track revenue and expenses.”
Lee Barken, CPA and IT practice leader at
Haskell & White in San Diego, said that CPAs
are in an ideal position to help with carbon
measurement, reporting and verification.
“The real opportunity for CPA firms is to get
engaged in the discussion on carbon,” he said.
“The moment you put a price on carbon — via
cap and trade or a carbon tax — you have an
asset or liability on the balance sheet. CPAs
will certainly have a role in both measuring
carbon and also the internal controls sur-
rounding those systems.”
Steve Starbuck agreed. As the newly ap-
pointed leader of the Americas climate
change and sustainability services practice for
Ernst & Young, he said that the first step CPAs
can offer clients is education. He said that
as accountants, auditors and business advi-
sors, CPAs should first help clients prepare
for emissions management by developing a
thorough understanding of the various state,
regional and federal programs that prescribe
greenhouse gas reporting requirements.
TOP 100 FIRMS UPDATE
While most of the firms in the Top 100
Firms report published with our last issue
reported net revenues, as requested,
three of the Big Four firms reported
gross revenues. To facilitate an apples-to-apples comparison, PricewaterhouseCoo-pers has since provided its gross revenue
for 2009: $8.221 billion, a decline of 2.6
percent from the previous year. The new
figure moves it up to No. 2 on the list. It
also results in a slightly different fee split:
A&A — 52 percent; Tax — 32 percent;
and MAS — 16 percent (its advisory
services were listed in the original report
Separately, the Firm Highlights entry
for Sikich mislocated one of its merger
partners, Frederick M. Marcus. The firm
was in Rockford, Ill., not Rockville.
HEALTH REFORM, JOBS ACT
CREATE FLOOD OF TAX CHANGES
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The historic $940
billion reform legislation that was signed
into law last month to provide health care
to 32 million uninsured people contains a
large number of tax provisions affecting
both individuals and businesses — too
many to mention here. For more details,
Earlier in March, President Obama
signed the Hiring Incentives to Restore
Employment, or HIRE, Act into law. The
act offers an exemption from Social Security payroll taxes for newly hired workers
who have been unemployed for at least
60 days, as well as an extension of Section 179 expensing thresholds, and more.
NEW YORK — KPMG LLP CEO John B. Veihmeyer has been named U.S. chairman
and CEO of the firm, succeeding Timothy
P. Flynn, who will focus on his role as
chairman of KPMG International.
Veihmeyer, 54, had been deputy chair
of KPMG since 2005, CEO since 2008
and chair of the Americas region since
2007. He will begin a five-year term as
chairman and CEO on June 10, 2010.
The U.S. firm also elected Henry R.
Keizer, 53, to the position of deputy
chairman and chief operating officer for
a five-year term. Previously, he served as
global head of audit for KPMG International, as well as vice chair of the U.S.