RubinBrown merges in Bondi & Co.
Details: Top 100 Firm RubinBrown has
combined with Denver-based Bondi &
Co. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The consolidated firm will do business
under the RubinBrown brand, with a staff
of more than 400 and offices in St. Louis,
Denver and Kansas City, Mo.
According to RubinBrown chair James
Castellano, the firm had been looking
to bolster its presence in Denver since it
initially entered that market in mid-2010.
Bondi’s current offices, in Englewood and
Denver, will combine in mid-September
with RubinBrown’s, and RubinBrown
partner Gregory Osborn will continue to
serve as managing partner of the Denver
unit. Bondi partners Evelyn Law, Julia
Stone and Cheryl Wallace have all been
named partners with RubinBrown.
Take a creative approach to solving client problems
BY KIMBERLY HOGAN AND W. MICHAEL HSU
Not all complex problems require a complex solution, and a
more elaborate solution doesn’t automatically make it a better
one. Bigger and faster is simply bigger and faster; it’s not better.
When an accountant helps a client grow,
it’s usually done through a logical, reasonable
approach to reducing tax liabilities, speeding workflow and implementing sound accounting practices. If successful, the firm
will retain the client on a long-term basis.
However, in today’s increasingly competitive
environment, it’s not enough just to provide
this “reasonable” approach. Clients will jump
ship and head for the firm with less expensive
fees and smarter strategies.
It’s time, then, for firms to adopt an “
unreasonable” approach to solving client problems.
Not only will the firm show it can think differently than its competition — the firm can use
this approach to retain clients for life.
proach. For example, present the information
in real-time through a portal.
Remember that there are many firms that
have yet to create a portal on their Web sites
— if they have a dynamic site at all! A portal
offers clients the means to see their returns,
financial statements and practically anything
else in real-time versus delivery by e-mail or
— even worse — snail mail. Be sure to stress
to the client the “real-time” commitment
you’re making to their business.
Another creative way to present information is to deliver it in person — that’s right:
live and in person. By hand-delivering a return in person, you are making sure your clients are happy with the work. Tell them you
are “just in the neighborhood” and they’ll be
impressed with your creative approach.
technology lead the way too much; the best
solution still resides in your own review of
your base, not necessarily a review enabled
Next, determine what you are trying to
achieve. If all you want to do is provide the
same set of services to the same clients, then
you’re done. Yet you shouldn’t be complacent. You can figure out where you want to go
by remembering how you want to stand apart
from other firms. The unreasonable approach
is to look at this in just a few steps. What could
be less complicated than that?
LarsonAllen merges in
Raymon Pielech Zexter
Details: Massachusetts accounting firm Raymon Pielech Zexter PC has
joined Minneapolis-based Top 100 Firm
LarsonAllen. The addition of RPZ’s New
Bedford-based practice to LarsonAllen’s
existing Boston operations, including
RPZ’s 25 employees (nine of whom are
CPAs), expands the firm’s presence in
Massachusetts and places it among the
top 20 CPA firms in the state.
RPZ managing shareholder Jeff Raymon said that career growth opportunities for his employees within a national
firm were among the deciding factors in
electing to join with LarsonAllen.
Friedman adds partners from
Tracey Heun Brennan
Details: Top 100 Firm Friedman LLP
announced that the former partners of
Tracey Heun Brennan & Co. of Linwood
and Toms River, N.J., have joined its
practice, adding four practice leaders and
two new offices. Those joining Friedman
include four CPAs: Douglas Heun, Debra
Parker and David Waddington, who are
joining as partners, and Audrey J. Sher-rick, who will be a principal at the firm.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
It would be ridiculous to re-engineer all of the
processes a firm has in its day-to-day service
delivery. Take a tax practice: Most accountants are bound by laws and regulations to
adhere to a set of standards. A 1040 is still a
1040, no matter how you look at it.
While the numbers may look the same,
how you get to those numbers is up for debate. This isn’t creative accounting; it’s just a
different way to approach an outcome.
Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. If you
had a similar set of books for the last 10 years,
and your accountant filed the same set of returns with little to no discussion about what
you could have done differently, wouldn’t you
seek out a professional who could energize
your returns? Just because the forms are similar doesn’t mean the approach to arriving at
the final numbers should be the same.
Find creative ways to discuss your clients’
business and be innovative with your ap-
Kimberly Hogan is business development
manager for ScanSnap sales at Fujitsu. Follow her on Twitter @ScanSnapKim or reach
her at email@example.com. W. Michael
Hsu, CPA, MSA, is chief executive officer of
DeepSky, an outsourced accounting depart-
ment.Fo llow him on Twitter @DeepSkyCo or
reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOLD THE BUN
If you order a hamburger, you want the bun.
It’s like peas and carrots or Hepburn and
Again, wrong. By taking an unreasonable
approach to ordering your burger, you change
the traditional model. Now compare this to
your competition. With all other things being
equal, how can one firm differentiate itself
The complicated approach is to have a firm
retreat, write a strategic plan, ensure that the
plan aligns with the firm’s mission and vision,
and spend numerous non-billable hours
cussing out the plan once it sits on the shelf
for more than six months gathering dust.
Instead, the answer comes down to two
thoughts: Who do we serve and what are we
trying to achieve? If you can answer these two
questions in 140 characters or less, bravo! Of
course, we don’t live life by the code of Twitter, but here’s the point: You can discover gold
in knowing the clients you serve, the prospects you want to become clients, and how
you want to serve both audiences.
A simple approach would be to make a
list of your clients according to industry and
the services you currently provide. If you
have a customer relationship management
system, that’s good, but be careful not to let
TALK TO ME
When was the last time you picked up the
phone to call a client? How about the last time
you shook that same client’s hand?
Most firms take a reasonable approach to
client retention and recruitment. Practitioners wait for their clients to contact them, remaining confident that the client will eventually contact them one way or another.
Wow, is this ever reasonable! Yet how much
effort does it take to dial a person’s number?
So what’s the unreasonable approach to
converting prospects into clients and retaining clients forever? While there is no textbook
solution, the approach lies in your own ability
to ensure that your clients understand that
you really care about them.
If you send a monthly newsletter, that’s
great, but we all know your clients get many
newsletters. How can your same generic e-mail possibly make a difference? It doesn’t,
and neither does your annual tax organizer
or reminders about quarterly payments. Instead, stand out from the competition and
seal the deal, forever, by taking an unreasonable approach to communications.
Pick up the phone, arrange a coffee or
lunch meeting, and take a consultative approach to providing great service. Or encourage your clients to call you off the clock; they
could call about something related to their
accounting or — in some cases — just seek
your advice as a sounding board.
We keep messing up our practices by complicating the situation or, even worse, ignoring
the obvious. Take an unreasonable approach;
you’re going to find out very quickly that all it
takes is focus, commitment and energy. That’s
the way to win the match and that’s the way to
outlast your competition. AT