BiggsKofford Promotes and Grows to Eight Directors

hammond_smallBiggsKofford, one of the leading certified public accounting and business consulting firms in Colorado, announced today the promotion of Braden Hammond, CPA/ABV to Director. Hammond joins the firm’s team of seven directors: Chris Blees, Kurt Kofford, Greg Gandy, Greg Papineau, Michael McDevitt, Deborah Helton, and Austin Buckett.

Hammond joined BiggsKofford in 2001 and has a passion for the technical aspects of auditing and accounting. He understands that, rather than merely providing a historical report, an audit can help a move a company to its next level of success. In 2006, he was promoted to Manager and has continued to dedicate his hard work and leadership skills to the firm.

“Braden is an extremely valuable member of the BiggsKofford team,” said Chris Blees, Managing Partner. “He has the entrepreneurial spirit that all BiggsKofford Directors have.”

Founded in 1982, Colorado Springs-based BiggsKofford currently employs more than 25 professionals. BiggsKofford offers integrated business solutions, including tax, accounting, merger and acquisitions consulting, business valuation and litigation support.

BiggsKofford has expanded its services to meet the changing needs of over 500 business owners and entrepreneurs in Colorado’s Front Range.

Media, contact Jenn Watton at (719) 579-9090 for more information.

051_6757BiggsKofford, P.C., announces the promotion of Josephus Le Roux, to Audit  Manager of the firm. He joined the BiggsKofford team in January 2005.

Le Roux completed his undergraduate degree with a triple major in accounting, business administration and economics from Western State Colorado University located in Gunnison. Prior to being hired at BiggsKofford, he obtained a diversified background working for a credit union and another firm where he gained prior audit experience.

“Josephus consistently looks for ways to add value to our clients,” said Chris Blees, Managing Partner of BiggsKofford. “He has a work ethic and spirit that we believe to be essential in helping to supervise the firm.”

Founded in 1982, Colorado Springs-based BiggsKofford currently employs more than 25 people. BiggsKofford offers integrated business solutions, including tax, accounting, merger and acquisitions consulting, business valuation and litigation support. BiggsKofford has expanded its services to meet the changing needs of over 500 business owners and entrepreneurs in Colorado’s Front Range.

Media, contact Jenn Watton at (719) 579-9090 for more information.

(The Gazette, By Charise Simpson; Published August 2014)

bio-photo-chris-blees

From the age of 15, Chris Blees knew he wanted to help entrepreneurs find a way to monetize their passions.

He grew up in St. Louis, watching his father – a piano technician – work endless hours earning high accolades in his industry, yet bringing home very little financial reward. The younger Blees believed people should be able to earn a lot of money for something they are good at, so he focused on the challenges of profitability by studying economics in high school and learning from business owners.

He earned a business degree from Western State in Gunnison and took a job with BiggsKofford straight out of college.

Today, he’s president and CEO of BiggsKofford, a CPA firm that offers tax, audit and business solutions. He is celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company this year. Under his leadership, the firm launched its mergers and acquisitions arm in 2002.  Blees assumed his current role in 2007, when co-founder Jerry Biggs retired.

Question: How does?BiggsKofford differ from the standard CPA firm model?

Answer: BiggsKofford is two parts CPA firm and one part investment banking firm. The traditional CPA part does financial statement work, taxes and audits. Our investment banking division accounts for 35 percent of our revenue, which is far from the industry average of 7 percent. Both arms serve our niche customers, which are closely held businesses with 10 or fewer owners.

Unique elements of our firm are we’re consultive and we run our business differently because we don’t have a managing partner. We are a business that happens to perform CPA services. As the president and CEO, my functional area is much less chargeable than a managing partner. It frees me up to focus on the management and strategy planning of the firm.

Q: What is the fastest growing part of your business?

A: In the last two years, the mergers and acquisitions part has really come back; 2008 and 2009 was a big downturn and 2010 and 2011 was the doldrums nationwide. We’re back to a fairly good pace at this point. In our traditional CPA firm, our niche has been physician groups and medical practices. We’ve had more than 25 percent growth there in the last year.

Q: What are your plans for growth?

A: We have very strategic and nonaggressive growth plans.  We target 10 percent growth per year. We don’t want more than that because we want to grow intelligently and profitably.

Q: How did the recession affect your business?

A: It was hard. We had a couple of years of single-digit retraction, meaning we had top line revenue reductions two years in a row that were 5 to 7 percent. That was still pretty good, however. We were working with homebuilders that were having huge reductions in revenue, so I shouldn’t complain. We rebounded and surpassed our previous highs within a couple years of that.

Q: What advice would you offer entrepreneurs?

A: Remaining self-sufficient in their own ability to make business decisions is critical. That stems from a financial self-sufficiency that allows you to remain in control, without debt or other capital that will negatively influence the control they have on their company. You need money to run your business and it’s a lot easier when it’s your money.

Q: Do you have a personal formula for success?

A: Confucius said, “A truly wise man surrounds himself with wiser men.” My goal in life is to see those people I impact as successful.  My theory is that if I drive success in everyone around me, I myself will naturally be successful.

?Q: What are your thoughts on the Colorado Springs business climate?

A: We have an amazing business climate despite the inherent detriments that we were dealt. I’m a very strong supporter of nonprofits and participate on many nonprofit boards, but when it comes to economic measures, our climate is severely hampered by having 50 percent of our economy that is nonprofit motivated, meaning government and other nonprofit organizations.  It makes us look like we are half as big as we really are and weaker in all per capita economic measures.  Again, nothing against the nonprofits.  They inherently bring lower wages, lower capital, less profit and earning ability, less liquidity per capita and less wealth per capita. So, in all those things that measure economic success, we’re going to have a 50 percent handicap. Withstanding that, there are some amazing brilliant business minds here.

 

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Take a deep breath. While your financial statement audit may be a requirement, being prepared for your audit is a guaranteed stress-reducer and will help to ease pressure and tension during the process. Take note of the following five tips for a hassle-free audit experience:

Be Prepared and Proactive

Be in contact with your auditor before your assessment. If a list of required pieces isn’t provided to you automatically by your auditor, ask them for a list of items they’ll need during your audit. If you have any questions about any of the items listed, let your auditor know and immediately communicate if you won’t be ready by your agreed- upon dates.

Although surprise is a required element in any audit, you’ll also need to produce some information on the spot. This information could include program reports, expense reports, or journal entry support. Although surprise is necessary, you can still prepare by creating files throughout the year to have all the required information in one, easy to access place.

Have realistic expectations

Expectations for your audit should reflect your contract with your auditing firm. Your contract will outline what the audit will accomplish and your responsibilities. Auditors used to perform “clean-up” accounting work for their clients during the audit—including the preparation of year-end journal entries, fixed asset schedules, and various liability analyses. This is not the case today. These days, professional standards draw a clear line between accounting and auditing services, so your auditor must remain independent of your accounting procedures.

If there are certain tasks you do not understand or cannot do due to a lack of knowledge or expertise, consider hiring a different firm to handle them. If you are fully capable to handle your own processes, then engage your audit firm to assist with certain analyses and adjustment information outside of your audit.

Reduce your risks

Draw up and review your accounting processes guidebook.  Self-assessing inherent internal control weaknesses and determining the necessary internal controls to mitigate such weaknesses is a powerful tool. From there, periodically check to verify that your organization’s policies and procedures are being followed.

If your operations have changed, discuss these developments with your auditor during the year and update your policies and procedure accordingly. Do not wait until the fieldwork begins or there could be a potential delay in your audit process.

Be ready to handle control deficiencies  

Your auditor will apply risk standards during your audit. Auditing standards define and identify deficiencies in internal control, other material weaknesses, and significant shortages. For example, the auditor will look to see if there is more than one person handling cash receipts and reviewing and approving cash disbursements and payroll, a second person authorizing contracts and their payment, and adequate oversight of your checks and balances system.

Keep communications open

Don’t let your annual audit be the only time you talk to your auditor. If you save up all your questions, it’s likely to extend the length of the audit and create more work for you and your auditor. Ask if there are new accounting announcements or changes for the year so you aren’t surprised after year-end. Be proactive in understanding the new guidance and its impact on your next audit and future financial reporting.

Although your audit requires some work, the paybacks are abundant. The audit not only assesses your overall financial condition, but can also identify complications with financial management and financial reporting, which can help to identify ways to reduce risk and strengthen internal controls.

 

For additional information, contact BiggsKofford at 719-579-9090 or info@biggskofford.com.

Michael McDevitt

Michael McDevitt

Director

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To the outside world, accountants can seem like a strange breed. Spending most of our days buried under forms, spreadsheets and receipts, we can help make or break your business – not to mention your payroll and Schedule C.

Choosing the right accountant for your small business isn’t always as easy as it should be. There are a lot of us out there, and the right professional for one company can be a poor fit for another. With that in mind, here are the three worst ways to choose a small business accountant:

Waiting until the last minute.

It’s amazing how many people will show up at an accountant’s office with a stack of receipts in late March or early April and hope to get some top-shelf tax advice. It’s not that we can’t or won’t help them, but they’re making it difficult for us to do our jobs properly.

A good CPA will take an in depth look through your company’s finances, finding out where it’s healthy and which areas could use some improvement. Based on that info, we can not only help you run your small business more smoothly, but also make sure you’re getting every tax credit and deduction that’s coming to you.

The less time we have to do this, however, the more likely we are to miss something that could help, so try to see an accountant before it becomes an urgent issue.

Picking the first name out of the phone book.

There are hundreds of accountants in your local directory for a reason – some are better than others, and most of us have certain specialties and areas of expertise where we can be particularly helpful. Trusting part of your financial future to the first person who answers their phone isn’t likely to help you find the professional you’re looking for.

A better strategy is to narrow it down to two or three candidates based on their respective backgrounds. Ideally, you’ll want an accountant who is familiar with the kind of work you do, and has been recommended by a couple of your more successful peers. But speaking of recommendations…

Following referrals blindly.

It’s great that you’re golfing buddy has a good accountant that he or she trusts, but does that mean you should use them, too? Unless you’re in the same business (and maybe not even then), the answer could be a strong “no”.

Why? Because, even though it’s a good sign that someone you know and trust is recommending them, you don’t know enough about their background and skills to tell whether they’re a good fit for your business.

So how should you find an accountant? Visiting sites like this one is a good first step. Take a look through some similar articles and notice which professionals have clients with businesses like yours. Once you’ve identified a few that look like a good fit, schedule a meeting and find out more.

It might be tempting to take one of the quick ways to find an accountant, but you’ll only be shorting your own business in the long run.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about BiggsKofford and if we could be the right firm to serve you and your business.

Kurt Kofford

Kurt Kofford

Director

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    Consider these scenarios:

    1. You just received a regulatory notice in the mail from the government agency that regulates your company or organization, informing you that the audit of your company didn’t meet the required standards. The notice uses threatening language to spell out the negative consequences of not complying. What went wrong?
    2. You just received your company’s audit report in the mail and you realize that you have had very little interaction with your auditors. Instead of reaping the side benefits of insights and recommendations from the auditors outside perspective developed while auditing your organization, all you got were the pieces of paper you are required to give to the bank. What went wrong? Could this situation have been changed by taking different steps when choosing a CPA firm?

    Aren’t all financial statements audits created equally?

    The answer is a definite no! Audits are not a commodity in which one gallon of gas is just like the next. Yes, there is a large body of professional standards to guide all auditors in the performance of an audit and reporting on financial statements, but there is a wide variance in actual practice as to how those standards are followed.
    The professional auditing and reporting standards are broad enough and flexible enough to allow for the uniqueness of different companies and organizations and the different approaches of CPA firms performing the audits. This is as it should be, because no two organizations are alike and professional judgment is still the most important element of an audit.

    When an audit is not an audit

    Unfortunately, in my 26 years as a CPA and an auditor, and my experience over the last four years on the Colorado State Board of Accountancy, I have learned that some audits are better than others, and a few are downright bad. There are many factors that go into creating a superior audit, including the approach, skills, knowledge and time allocated to the audit. Most of these are factors in arriving at the cost of an audit, yet many organizations and companies select their auditors on the basis of cost alone as if the audit by one CPA firm is the same as the next.

    How big is the problem?

    No one knows for sure how many sub-standard audits there are, but recent studies in certain sectors have revealed concerning deficiencies. Substandard audits have become enough of a concern for the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that they are considering a proposal to require any auditor performing an audit to be submitted to them to be from an approved list, which would allow them to exclude auditors who have not been performing audits up to the required standards.

    What to Do? Our Recommendations

    The first thing to consider is the competence and longevity of the firm or accountant that you are engaging to audit your company. How long have they been in business? What is the firm’s professional standing and experience in your industry? Do they list references in their proposal for similar work and similar industries that they have done work for in the past? Check the Web site for the Colorado State Board of Accountancy to see if they have had any complaints filed against them. Not only should you find out if the CPA firm is a member of American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), but you should inquire how they have used their membership to improve their audit quality. For example, the AICPA has Audit Quality Centers for specialized areas such as employee benefit plan audits, where members can join to access resources to improve the quality of their audits. Also, check to see if they are in good standing with the Colorado Society of Certified Public Accountants (CSCPA). Both organizations require audit firms to conduct tri-annual peer reviews (an audit of the auditors).

    Ask them for their most recent peer review report and discuss the finding of their peer review with them to determine what suggestions for improvement were made.

    And of course, it’s important to take a detailed look at the proposal. Are they proposing in writing that your company’s needs will be met and to the proper regulations? When looking at proposals to decide on a CPA firm, many companies put together an audit committee to come to a decision as a group.

    In my position with the State Board of Accountancy, I’ve seen situations where businesses or organizations have made bad decisions in choosing CPAs when it came to their audit. These situations haven’t made headlines, but bad situations happen more than what I would like to see.

    The Bottom Line

    Selecting an auditor based only on cost is not a good idea. Often the old axiom applies “You get what you pay for”, so make sure you are reaping the benefits that an audit should bring to an organization.