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Archive for March, 2014

I had a younger staff member ask me, “What can I do to make sure I have a successful tax season”?  Aside from having the technical knowledge needed to do our jobs, the essence of a successful tax season is effective communication, whether internally to our peers or supervisors, or externally to clients.   Some clients prefer we only send emails; others need us to spend time on the phone; most effective is to meet in person.  Regardless of our clients’ preferred mode of contact, keep in mind the following tips on being an effective communicator.  In addition, effective communication with fellow engagement team members will improve the efficiency of the engagement and enhance “world class client service.”

  • First, you have to remember that good communication starts with being a good listener.  Always be prepared to patiently listen to your client or teammate and never interrupt them. A simple way to be sure you understand their point or questions is to rephrase it and ask them to confirm that you didn’t misunderstand him or her.
  • Second, try to focus on being self-confident and positive.  By projecting the right attitude, your words also become more positive – affirmation and encouragement will help get the best out of people, and clients will get more from the conversation.  A good tip in this regard is to smile even when you are speaking on the phone and can’t be seen.  This helps project a positive attitude.
  • Third, understand who your audience is.  When speaking with clients, it generally is not necessary to be technical in nature.  Tax clients don’t really care what the code section is that allows the deduction; they only care that they can take advantage of it.  Be sure to speak in your clients’ terms.
  • And lastly, you don’t always have to be right – sometimes it is better to “let it go.”  There will be times during tax season when conflict with a client or fellow team member will occur.  It’s generally best to hear each other out and allow time to cool off before addressing it.  Remember that there is normally a compromise that is possible, and you just need to approach the conflict with a cool and rational state of mind.  If you do make a mistake or find your previous position on a subject is no longer accurate, your clients and colleagues are likely to be forgiving when you are honest and up front about it.

Always feel free to seek advice from your peers or supervisor if you are not clear on something.  Not only will it help you work more productively, it will minimize any potential pitfalls with our clients, particularly during this stressful time of year.

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I hope everyone had a very happy St Patrick’s Day!  With the coincidence of this holiday and the corporate filing date, I always looked at this as the half way mark for busy season.

Our firm prides itself on being progressive in terms of culture and initiatives which help cultivate and nurture our talented pool of professionals.  One of the many great programs we offer is the Women’s Leadership Development Initiative (WLDI), whose mission is to attract, retain and advance women leaders at the firm.  This initiative has been successful in helping guide many of our female professionals up through the ranks, reaching the Partner and Director levels.  I am happy to share that three of our female leaders are being honored for their contributions to our firm and our communities:

Cathy Bendall, CPA, PSA, CGMA, partner, has been named as an honoree in the “NJBIZ Best 50 Women in Business 2014” awards program, with the ceremony scheduled for March 24.  This program recognizes New Jersey’s most dynamic women in business based on their dedication to business growth, professional and personal accomplishments, community involvement, and advocacy for women.  Cathy is certainly an exemplary candidate, with over 25 years of experience specializing in highly complex not-for-profit and governmental audits of many types, and currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Anderson House, which provides comprehensive care to New Jersey women recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction.

Taryn Bostjancic, CPA, partner and Chair of the WLDI Operating Committee, is one of the honorees to be recognized at the “Executive Women of New Jersey’s Salute to the Policy Makers 2014” luncheon on May 8. Taryn specializes in accounting, auditing and consulting services for clients in the life science, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, software, technology, and service industries, and provides both consulting and auditing services to the firm’s SEC clients. She is also an active member of the Middlesex Regional Chamber of Commerce and serves as co-chair of the Chamber’s Women in Business Committee, and is an Executive Board Member of Coming Home of Middlesex County, Inc., a not-for-profit organization formed to coordinate the implementation and evolution of Middlesex County’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness.  Taryn is very deserving of such accolades.

Theresa Richardson, CPA, PSA, partner, will be honored at the Rider University Accounting Advisory Council Hall of Fame Dinner, also on May 8, receiving the “Achievement in Service to the Community” award.  Theresa, who has over 15 years professional experience serving primarily not-for-profits and manufacturing & distribution clients, serves on the Board of Directors, Finance Committee and Women in Business Steering Committee for the Somerset County Business Partnership.  She is also a member of the Finance Committee of St. Mary’s Church, and serves on the Raritan Valley Community College Foundation Board of Directors and Rider University’s Accounting Advisory Council.  Additionally, she has a long history as an active member of the Somerset County Chapter of The American Red Cross and also an active member of Branchburg Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) and served as the organization’s treasurer.  Theresa is truly worthy of this recognition.

Please join me in congratulating all three of these outstanding professionals on their tremendous accomplishments.

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I’d like to continue expanding upon the ten traits described in the Withum Way, all of which define our culture and the behaviors which best exemplify our people.  Today we will cover point eight:

8. Work hard/Play hard. This ubiquitous motto applies all too well at WS+B. We work hard to provide the world class service our clients expect, and then celebrate together in our successes when the job is done.

If you haven’t seen it already, last week’s issue of NJBIZ (2/24) features an article on, “Why Accounting is Cool,” with Withum’s fantastic culture being spotlighted.  And what’s ‘cooler’ are the staff who appear on the story’s cover page (page 13): Christina Fessler (manager), Dan Moser (senior), Lauren Taguer (senior) and Lou Sandor (partner), with Christina, Lauren and Jim Bourke (partner) being quoted throughout.  If you haven’t seen it, here’s a link to the electronic issue.  Quoting the article, “We play hard, and we work hard as well,” said Christina Fessler, a 28-year –old CPA at Withum.  “It can be really fun…”  And Jim and Lauren contribute greatly to the article with their insights into the perks of having a career in accounting.

I’d like think that we can not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.  “Work Hard, Play Hard” is not just about going out for drinks after putting in a 12-hour work day to meet a client deadline (which is all well and good, and a lot of fun, mind you).  But I think it’s more than that.  After dedicating ourselves to delivering tremendous client service during work hours, many of us choose to participate in firm team events such as 5k runs and softball games, or fundraisers and charity events, regardless if they fall on the weekend (and we bring along our own family members, too).  We all look forward to – and thoroughly enjoy – the annual SOTF video filming.  We arrange office trips to sporting events and live theater. We golf together. We attend off-site retreats, conferences and professional development trainings together.  It’s a reflection of the passion many of you have for not only your career, but life as a whole.  In short, “Work Hard, Play Hard” reflects a life that is richly balanced.

Great job to the Red Bank team who were a part of the NJBIZ story.  You represented the firm and the profession so well!

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I am pleased to announce that effective this past Saturday, March 1, Morristown-based accounting firm, Walsh & Borresen LLC (WB), has combined its practice with our firm.  The union adds 10 professionals, including the two founding partners, Patrick Walsh and AJ Borresen, and an impressive client list.  The WB staff will remain at their current office located at 2120 Headquarters Plaza, Morristown, until after tax season, with plans to relocate to our Morristown office soon thereafter.

The Walsh & Borresen professionals have a unique niche in that they specialize in tax compliance for C Corp.’s , this  significantly deepens our expertise in this area and will provide us opportunities to cross sell their services into our referral base.  Their reputation in the Northern NJ/Metro NYC area is outstanding, they also specialize in inbound international taxation for all types of entities and individuals, corporate tax accounting services, transactional advice, tax services to high net worth individuals and have experience in many diverse industries.  Our new colleagues pride themselves on providing clients with excellence and integrity, aligning with the commitment made to all WithumSmith+Brown clients.

Growth through mergers and acquisitions is certainly a part of our firm’s long-term strategy, to supplement our organic growth.  We are so pleased that throughout the firm’s 40 years of history, we have been successful in finding the right strategic partners to help us reach new markets, expand a variety of service areas, and bring aboard so many talented professionals who help provide the World-Class Service our clients have come to expect every day.  Please join me in welcoming Pat, AJ and the entire WB team to the firm!

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Good morning, Everyone!

I’d like to continue expanding upon the ten traits described in the Withum Way, all of which define our culture and the behaviors which best exemplify our people.  Today we will cover point eight:

8. Work hard/Play hard. This ubiquitous motto applies all too well at WS+B.  We work hard to provide the world class service our clients expect, and then celebrate together in our successes when the job is done.

If you haven’t seen it already, last week’s issue of NJBIZ (2/24) features an article on, “Why Accounting is Cool,” withCapture Withum’s fantastic culture being spotlighted.  And what’s ‘cooler’ are the staff who appear on the story’s cover page (page 13): Christina Fessler (RB manager), Dan Moser (RB senior), Lauren Taguer (RB senior) and Lou Sandor (RB partner), with Christina, Lauren and Jim Bourke (RB partner) being quoted throughout.  If you haven’t seen it, here’s a link to the electronic issue.  Quoting the article, “We play hard, and we work hard as well,” said Christina Fessler, a 28-year –old CPA at Withum.  “It can be really fun…”  And Jim and Lauren contribute greatly to the article with their insights into the perks of having a career in accounting.

I’d like think that we at WS+B can not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.  “Work Hard, Play Hard” is not just about going out for drinks after putting in a 12-hour work day to meet a client deadline (which is all well and good, and a lot of fun, mind you).  But, I think it’s more than that.  After dedicating ourselves to delivering tremendous client service during work hours, many of us choose to participate in WS+B team events such as 5k runs and softball games, or fundraisers and charity events, regardless if they fall on the weekend (and we bring along our own family members, too).  We all look forward to – and thoroughly enjoy – the annual SOTF video filming.  We arrange office trips to sporting events and live theater. We golf together. We attend off-site retreats, conferences and professional development trainings together.  It’s a reflection of the passion many of you have for not only your career, but life as a whole.  In short, “Work Hard, Play Hard” reflects a life that is richly balanced.

Great job to the Red Bank team who were a part of the NJBIZ story.  You represented the firm and the profession so well!

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