Moore or Less: As the World Changes, Armanino and Moore Stephens Will Go Deeper

MOORE-or-Less-Graphic_Andy-Armanino.jpgIf only I had a crystal ball…
 
But some things don’t need the advantages of foresight: the future of accounting is coming, and it’s a marriage of deep relationships and new technology. It’s not a matter of “if.” It’s “when,” and “how much it will affect our industry.”
 
Armanino LLP is the largest independent accounting and consulting firm in California and one of the largest firms in the United States. It provides an integrated set of audit, tax, consulting, business management and technology solutions to companies in the U.S. and abroad.
 
We are in a position to see what can and will impact the industry almost better than anyone else. And in a word —or acronym, actually —it’s VUCA.
 
For those not in the know, VUCA is a military acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity that was introduced by the U.S. Army War College to describe the multilateral world that resulted from the end of the Cold War. Harvard Business School adopted the use of VUCA to illustrate that the accepted management models of the past are no longer relevant in a business world that can only be described as, “Hey, it’s crazy out there.”
 
And we, as a firm, know that.
 
The pace of change is going so quickly we’ve never seen anything like it in our lifetimes. We must embrace change and get ready for the future, for our clients’ sake. And I know we have the smart people to do so.
 
In the Armanino offices, technology is de rigueur, and most of the benefits, performance reviews and internal communications are automated. But looking at the profession overall, there will be much more automation.
 
We have artificial intelligence that will replace much of the mundane tasks and data entry we currently do, but we still need people to evaluate the incredible amount of data and communicate it clearly to our clients. It’s going to be interesting to see what comes from that. Does that mean we hire fewer entry-level staff? I don’t know. I do know we will hire a more diverse mix of skillsets.
 
In a more technology driven world, our client relationships are going to matter more, and so we have to get to know them much more deeply.
 
Armanino’s clients span service lines and geographies, and it is going to be that much more important to know about their services, offerings and aspirations.
 
Luckily, we’re in a position to listen and solve. Part of the solution will be to help clients understand new technologies, and how they can help their business thrive.
 
Understanding and working together with our clients is one of the Moore Stephens advantages we have enjoyed for years. But now, more than ever, Armanino will leverage our association with Moore Stephens both globally and nationally.
 
From a collaborative perspective, Armanino is already benefitting from the Moore Stephens relationship by the development of a China Desk, led by tax partner Min Riblett, who is actively involved in Moore Stephens.
 
During Q3 2017, Moore Stephens North America CEO Tony Szczepaniak approached Armanino about Cosmos Holdings. The company needed a potential acquisition audit of a company in Germany, so Armanino partners and staff would need to work with the company’s German headquarters to get the necessary financial information for compliance. Thanks to the Moore Stephens global network, Armanino was able to collaborate with Moore Stephens affiliates in Germany, the UK and Greece in order to fulfill a $250,000 engagement with Cosmos Holdings. This project strengthened the firm’s international ties and may lead to further work down the road.
 
More recently in March 2018, another Moore Stephens member firm, Doeren Mayhew, approached Armanino about an audit of one of its clients that had entered into a letter of intent to be acquired by a large publicly-traded Canadian firm. The filings for this deal would require there to be two years of audited financial statements from a PCAOB-registered firm, which DoerenMayhew is not. But they knew Armanino was registered and was even more pleased when they learned we had extensive experience in the very specialized niche their client occupied.  The clock was ticking, and the audits had to be completed or the deal would fall apart. Even in the thick of busy season Armanino was able to mobilize a senior team that worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the Doeren Mayhew team to meet the tight deadlines. 
 
Had a brand-new accounting firm entered the fray, two years’ worth of financials would need to be audited from scratch – an expensive and time-consuming task. Armanino and Doeren Mayhew, as members of Moore Stephens, placed a level of trust in one another. That meant that Armanino was comfortable using Doeren Mayhew’s test work as a base for audit re-testing and could complete the job in a timely manner that would satisfy Doeren Mayhew’s client. This brought Armanino a $100,000+ engagement while also allowing Doeren Mayhew’s client to go forward with its deal.  
 
These two examples are exactly the kind of firm collaboration that makes us a leader in the market, and will continue to be so as technology advances – because it’s all about filling the high level needs that clients have.
 
And Moore Stephens is a value-add for our clients. As we build these deeper client relationships, the Moore Stephens association becomes more important due to thought leadership and integrating future technologies. We need to head into the future as Armanino and Moore Stephens to survive and go forward.
 
When all the firms have the shiny red buttons, what can we do that is different? Thankfully, we have the tools to help clients nationally and internationally, because of our association with Moore Stephens.