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Accounting Firms Gear Up for Expanding Economy

Accounting firms in the greater San Fernando Valley region grew incrementally for the past year, but they laid the groundwork for more expected growth during 2013. Companies on the Business Journal’s Accounting Firms list, ranked by number of certified professional accountants, reported a total of 796 CPAs on staff. That represents a 5.9 percent increase from last year’s total of 752 CPAs. Topping the list again was Miller Kaplan Arase LLP in North Hollywood. It had 92 CPAs. The firm, started in 1941, had 90 CPAs on staff the previous year. The No. 2 firm on the list, Holthouse, Carlin & Van Trigt LLP in Westlake Village, has 47 certified public accountants, up nine from last year. The firm expanded by adding Dennis Ito as a new tax partner in its Encino office. The firm also opened an office in Dallas-Fort Worth at the suggestion of a private equity client who thought Holthouse needed a permanent presence there, said Greg Hutchins, a partner in the Westlake Village office. The firm is looking to hire at all levels – from college interns to experienced accountants. “We are expecting growth again,” Hutchins said. Growth plans at other firms have followed the traditional pattern of mergers and acquisitions or new offices. White, Zuckerman, Warsavsky, Luna & Hunt, for instance, formed a financial advisory spinoff offering insurance services and products in conjunction with divorce settlements. Igor Zey, an established financial and insurance professional, was hired to head up the division. Sherman Oaks-based White Zuckerman was No. 17 on the list with 18 CPAs. Entering into the top 10 for the first time was Hutchinson and Bloodgood LLP in Glendale. In late 2012, the firm merged with the Los Angeles area office of PKF California, an audit-centric firm with a specialty in the hospitality and leisure industries. Hutchinson was No. 5 on the list with 33 CPAs, an increase of 73 percent from 2011. A national merger in 2012 was between J.H. Cohn LLP and Reznick Group PC. The combined firms made the 11th largest accounting and consultancy practice in the U.S. with an employee count of more than 2,000 workers in 25 offices, including Woodland Hills. The firms are now known as CohnReznick LLP and the Valley office was No.8 on the list with 26 CPAs. Another firm undergoing a name change was Solomon Ross Grey & Co. in Encino, now called SRG LLP. The purpose of the name change was to place less emphasis on “name” partners and benefit its emerging partners. SRG was No. 4 on the list with 37 CPAs. A supplemental list ranks the top 50 accounting firms by total partners based in the Valley region. SingerLewak LLP, the Los Angeles-based firm with an office in Woodland Hills, ranked the highest with 34 partners. On the list ranked by CPAs, SingerLewak was No. 12 with 22. The 50 firms had a total partnership count of 314. Many accounting professionals said that the uncertainty of 2012 generated by proposed changes in the tax code, a presidential election, health care reform and federal budget concerns has not completely disappeared. New tax rules kept the federal gift tax exclusion at $5 million, the amount that an individual can give as gifts during a lifetime. There had been a proposal to decrease the amount to $1 million. The estate tax rate increases to 40 percent from 35 percent. “We did a lot of planning at the end of the year and I suspect that will continue since the limits are still high,” said Steven Fishman, managing partner at Fishman Block + Diamond LLP in Encino, the No. 14 firm on the list with 20 CPAs. Download the 2013 TOP ACCOUNTING FIRMS list (pdf)

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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