T100 seize opportunities amidst
>> BY BILL CARLINO
Despite the collapse of some of tressed commercial real estate market.
the nation’s storied financial Tony Argiz, managing partner at
institutions, massive job lay- Miami-based Morrison, Brown, Argiz &
offs and trillions disappearing Farra, foresees a boost in the areas of lit-from personal investment portfolios, a igation support and streamlining serv-surprising number of the 2009 class of ices for clients who potentially need to
Top 100 Firms are looking at the current downsize. Argiz also reported that the
economic crisis as a springboard to firm has intensified its networking,
increased profits, new growth areas and cross-selling and sales training efforts.
clientengagements. Ditto for Robert Ciaruf-
Though a number of T100 foli, chairman and chief exec-firms predicted that the down- utive at Pennsylvania-based
slide will result in fee pressures Parente Randolph, who pre-from clients, others have clev- dicted that his firm would
erly positioned themselves as attract new clients via its bur-lower-cost alternatives versus geoning Forensic & Litigation
their larger counterparts and, in Services Group.
the process, expanded reces- Burr Pilger & Mayer said
sion-centric offerings such as that its 400-person staff estab-bankruptcy, turnaround and lishes it as the largest firm in
retirement plan services. Northern California outside
Tom Marino, chief execu- the Big Four and, subsequent-tive at Northeastern super- ly, as an alternative to the
regional firm J.H. Cohn, predict- global audit firms in the areas
ed that new firm services will of turnarounds, restructuring
undoubtedly arise from the andwealthmanagement.
recent Trouble Asset Relief Larry Autrey, managing
Program, as well from the projected partner at Whitley Penn, said that fortu-increase in financial regulation and nately many of his firm’s existing clients
oversight as a result of the $50 billion are industries that have largely escaped
Bernard Madoff scandal. Cohn late last the recession, and therefore the crisis
year established the Client Economic allows the practice to grow revenues in
Recovery Team to assist clients and cor- “double-digits.” “We will add new
porations affected by the financial envi- clients, as well as do more for existing
ronment. clients that need our help,” he said.
At Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt, Some T100 firms, such as Singer-chief operating officer Alison Adams Lewak, are seizing the crisis as an
said that her firm expects to capture in- opportunity to trumpet the firm to
creased audit engagements from lend- prospective clients that have possibly
ers who require a top-level CPA firm, as become dissatisfied with their current
well as gaining attractively priced sub- firms. The firm also reported that it has
leases for new offices or the ability to identified a series of strategies to best
renegotiate leases as a result of the dis- promote its enterprise risk management
services and forensic accounting and litigation support units.
Like other T100 firms, St. Louis-based RubinBrown perceives the downturn as opening to increase its market
share, and as an adjunct to that strategy,
it recently formed a Troubled Economy
Services Team, which encompasses a
number of disciplines to assist struggling clients.
Minneapolis-based RSM McGladrey revealed that it has been helping clients brace for the current economy for
roughly a year, and toward that end has
outlined a series of best-practice tax and
accounting strategies on its Web site.
Lee Beall, chief executive at Rea &
Associates Inc., said that the continual
downsizing at Fortune 500 firms will
allow those furloughed employees to
become entrepreneurs, and the subsequent start-up businesses will undoubtedly require seasoned-but-affordable
CPA firms to work with.
M&A, SPECIALTY HIRING
LeMaster Daniels said that the current
crisis will likely serve as an accelerant
for potential M&A opportunities, as
many of the smaller CPA firms that don’t
have succession plans in place may perceive the financial malaise as a signal to
begin scouting for merger candidates.
At RGL Forensics, chief executive
Paul Brunner said that his firm has
added specialists on its staff and as an
example pointed to a recent hire — a
staffer with a Ph.D in economics.
Florida-based Berkowitz Dick Pollack & Brant said that in response to the
crisis it has opened a third office, rolled
out a sales training and coaching class
See OPPORTUNITY on