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(UPDATE) Accounting Firm Merger Monday: Dixon Hughes, Goodman & Co. Combine to Form Dixon Hughes Goodman

~ Update includes Goodman & Co. quote in fourth paragraph.

Late last week we heard some rumbling about a merger between High Point, NC-based DIxon Hughes and Virginia Beach, VA-based Goodman & Co. and lo and behold, this morning the press teams from both firms have dropped us the press release announcing the merger and a link to this page that includes details on the merger, a letter to clients, a list of office locations and FAQs.

The combination, effective March 1, will make Dixon Hughes Goodman the 13th largest firm (by revenue) in the U.S. with a combined revenues of over $280 million. This places them one spot ahead of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause and behind directly behind Plante & Moran (this is going by Accounting Today‘s count). The combined firm of Dixon Hughes Goodman will have 30 offices (with HQ in Charlotte), in 11 states with 1,700 professionals. The firm’s leadership will consist of Thomas H. Wilson, Managing Partner of Goodman & Company, as the Deputy Chairman and Chief Operating Officer, Charles Edgar Sams, Jr., Chairman of Dixon Hughes, will continue to serve as Chairman and Kenneth M. Hughes, Chief Executive Officer of Dixon Hughes, will also remain in that position.

Both firms ranked very high in Vault’s Accounting 50, with Dixon Hughes coming in at #5 and Goodman & Co. landing at #15. Goodman ranked very high in some notable categories including #2 in compensation, #3 in business outlook and #1 in green initiatives.

The press release states that Goodman & Co. “retain all of its existing Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. offices,” which we interpret as “no reductions in headcount” but we’re waiting to confirm and we’ve confirmed this with Goodman’s Gary Thomson who said, “we anticipate an increase in the near term as we take new industry specialties to our new markets.”

On a far more exciting note, Goodman & Co., by virtue of this merger, has broken into the Elvis-impersonation market, of which Dixon enjoys a sterling reputation.

Congrats to both firms on the merger and we wish them many happy years together. Obviously, the honeymoon will have to wait – busy season and all. We’ll keep you updated on any further developments.

Apparently Dixon Hughes’s Involvement Was Needed to Ensure the Integrity of an Elvis Impersonation Contest

You don’t have to be Young Buck to know that quite a few people take the business of impersonating the King seriously.

Competitiveness (some might call it cheating) in this arena rivals that of SEC football and finding impartial judges is not as easy as you would expect.

Accordingly, a top five accounting firm (Vault) has been retained to quell any concerns you might have:

For the semifinal and final rounds of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, the accounting firm of Dixon Hughes oversees the scoring and tabulation of the contest judging. Having Dixon Hughes as the official auditor of the event assures that the tabulation is held to the highest standards of integrity and objectivity.

Accounting News Roundup: UBS Clients Have ‘Mere Hours’ to Come Clean; Dixon Hughes Sued for ‘Comfort Report’; “Big 4 Only” Bank Covenants – Revealed! | 06.18.10

UBS Customers May Have `Mere Hours’ to Report to IRS [Bloomberg]
Since the Swiss Parliament were finally able to give the OK on the agreement to disclose UBS client names to the U.S., it’s only a matter of time until the IRS starts kicking down doors in the middle of the night.

“For UBS account holders, they have mere hours to run to the IRS and hope they can disclose the account before the Swiss hand the data over,” said Asher Rubinstein, a partner at Rubinstein & Rubinstein LLP in New York who said he’s been “getting panicked calls all week.”

The lesson to be learned here, it appears, is that he IRS on a bluff, you are likely to be wrong, wrong, wrong. Doug Shulman doesn’t like to be take for a fool, “We will immediately follow up on the information we receive from the Swiss and we will vigorously enforce the laws against those who have attempted to evade their tax responsibilities by hiding their assets offshore.”

KPMG chief calls for audit reform [Accountancy Age]
John Griffith-Jones, who wishes everyone would get comfortable with the idea of the Big 4, does admit that the question about the purpose of audit is a legit one that should not be ignored, “What is the point, they and others ask, of doing extensive and increasingly elaborate audits of the financial accounts of our banks, when audits failed to identify the huge and systemic risks which led to the near collapse of the Global banking system in the Autumn of 2008?”

Campbell Recalls SpaghettiOs [WSJ]

600 Parish investors sue accounting firm [Charleston Post Courier]
Dixon Hughes is being sued by 600 investors of convicted mini-Madoff Al Parish for their “Comfort Report.” “The lawsuit alleges that the firm claimed to compile the report from brokerage statements, when it received statements generated only by Parish that ‘summarized imaginary account balances.’ ” Oops.

Oh, You Mean Like the Same Fed Audits We Already Have? Way to Go, Congress! [JDA]
“As any accountant will tell you, we perform audits each year to ensure the comparability of financial statements for the sake of investors. Since there is no comparing Fed statements and there are no investors (excluding the banks with mandated stock holdings in the Fed banks they are regulated by), basically all we’re doing is jerking off with our left hands pretending it is someone else doing the jerking.”

Firing squad execution sobering, but dramatic [AP]
And who doesn’t like drama?

Restrictive bank covenants keep the Big Four on top [Accountancy Age]
“Big 4 only covenants” in lending agreements are blackballing smaller firms according to BDO International CEO Jeremy Newman and others. Nonsense, you say? AA presented an example:

Buried in the 81-page credit agreement for US-based healthcare provider Amedisys is a 22-word stipulation that highlights a problem some fear is threatening the stability of the global economic system.

“Audited consolidated balance sheets of the group members… [must be] reported on by and accompanied by an unqualified report from a Big Four accounting firm,” the phrase reads.

There’s no telling how many loan agreements have this exact language but “Big Four” is often replaced by “reputable” so it’s not if the “Big 4 covenant” is cooked right into the template. That being said, AA reports that the Big 4 + GT and BDO admitted last month that the covenants do exist in the UK.

Strangely enough, Amedisys is currently in the cross-hairs of Crooked CFO-turned-Forensic sleuth Sam Antar.

CFOs on vacation: Fewer call office [San Francisco Business Times]
God forbid.

Accounting News Roundup: Improving the External Audit; Another Accounting Firm Bolts Greensboro, NC; AICPA Opposes Nonsigning Tax Preparer Rule | 04.27.10

Weighing the Worth of an External Audit [Compliance Week]
Does the external audit still have value? Some people have questioned that notion. Despite that grave assessment, there are still many that believe that the external audit has value. However, most have no illusions about the challenges before the profession.

Colleen Cunningham has a post up at Compliance Week with her thoughts:

[W]e need a fundamental shift away from the rules and complex accounting standards we currently use in the United States. The move to International Financial Reporting Standards would certainly help. IFRS is based more on principles and concepts, and while some people worry that these are “lesser” standards than U.S. GAAP, I believe that we will see more transparency about choices, options, and assumptions through enhanced disclosure under IFRS…

Perhaps the audit opinion should be less boilerplate to allow the auditors to provide more information and commentary. This could add needed transparency. Unfortunately, the litigious environment in which we operate would make this a risky proposition.

We like these ideas but more information and commentary would mean…more professional judgment! Hopefully the PCAOB would be okay with that idea because the trend seems to be that auditors can’t be trusted to do their jobs.

Dixon Hughes will close GSO site, shift staff to H.P. [Triad Business Journal]
Dixon Hughes is the latest firm to pull up the stakes in Greensboro, North Carolina. What is going on down there?

Jones Soda Announces Change of External Audit Firm [Market Wire]
Organic soda company drops Deloitte. Peterson Sullivan will take it from here.

AICPA Submits Comment Letter on IRS PTIN Proposal [Journal of Accountancy]
The AICAP submitted a letter to the IRS re: the proposed reg that would, among other things, require Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTIN) for tax professionals that don’t sign the returns. T

he AICPA isn’t so thrilled with this idea, and the JofA reports some of their thoughts, “(1) a successful implementation of registration and use of PTINs, along with the imposition of Circular 230 on all preparers should be sufficient to address unethical and/or incompetent tax return preparation and provide tremendous gains to tax administration in general; (2) it may cause confusion among taxpayers about the relative qualifications of tax return preparers; and (3) the additional burdens to the tax preparers and pass through of these costs to the taxpaying public should be considered.”