Wednesday, August 20, 2014
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After growth: 'Parting ways' at Philly's top accounting firm

ParenteBeard sheds some mid-Pa., South Jersey practices

After growth: 'Parting ways' at Philly's top accounting firm

On Friday I wrote about the dozen partners at ParenteBeard, the biggest accounting firm based in Philadelphia since its acquisitions a few years back, who quit and were talking to national rival BDO, which has been rebuilding its Philadelphia office, about setting up a bank auditing practice.

Since then I've been hearing about other recent changes at ParenteBeard:

- In Pa.: Four partners left to join Reinsel Kuntz Lesher (RTL), a rising practice in the Reading-Harrisburg-Lancaster-York area, late last year, joining three partners who made the same move at the start of 2012, and at least one more who plans to join them.

- In N.J.: Dominic Caglioti, formerly a member of the Parente board, has left and is now at New York-based Friedman, which has expanded its South Jersey office. He's been joined at Friedman by Mark Nicastro, once a rising star at ParenteBeard, whose practice includes emerging technology companies. Also, John E. Rafter, another South Jersey partner, left to start a firm with fellow ParenteBeard alumnus Leonard Lewis.

Besides Caglioti, at least one other ParenteBeard board member, Barry Pelagatti, has also departed recently and vanished from the company Web site.

AccountingToday this year listed ParenteBeard as the 21st-largest U.S. accounting firm, with $169 million in yearly revenues (the Big 4 - Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young, KPMG, each top $5 billion), and the 8th largest based outside New York or Chicago. But the same list showed ParenteBeard was the only one of the top 25 firms where revenues fell last year (by less than 1%), and the one with the biggest decline in total staff, down almost 6%  to 978 (at most firms staffing was up). 

What's going on? “As the largest Philadelphia-based accounting firm with more than 20 offices and 1,000 team members, the simple fact is that we experience turnover," Bob Ciaruffoli, ParenteBeard chairman and CEO, told me in a statement. "Regarding the question of our growth, we cannot speak to what other firms do, but, for us, we have made strategic decisions to part ways with practices that were not aligned with our strategic plan.

"Certainly, we take the issue of corporate culture seriously and since the merger in 2009, we have been attentive to it. What we’ve found as we’ve grown over the past decade is that we’ve been able to attract new and different talent to ParenteBeard – talent that is passionate about working here. And we’ve made an investment in cultivating that talent. In the end, our decisions are driven by what serves our team members and clients best.”

Big reorganizations might be disruptvie for partners or clients, but they aren't necessarily fatal, as BDO's recent growth in Philadelphia after its earlier flubbed merger here shows.
 

Joseph N. DiStefano
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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