Updated 4 yearss ago
Accounting firms are adjusting as new tech takes over some traditional tasks.
Miami-Dade’s largest locally based accounting firms are trying to figure out how artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and other technology will change the role of accountants. “You have to focus on the technology and what the future is going to hold and how it could potentially disrupt (your business),” says Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors and Accountants CEO Joe Saka.
Berkowitz, the second-largest firm (by billings), hired a COO so that other firm executives can concentrate on innovations in client service, planning for a changing industry and ensuring the firm has the people it needs for the future. Berkowitz’s accounting intelligence platform allows clients to analyze all the data gathered during an audit or preparation of financial statements to predict issues, needs or changes.
Other firms are expanding their services. For instance, Kaufman Rossin, Miami- Dade’s third-largest locally based firm, has added business consulting, risk advisory and family office services in recent years. This year, it launched a subsidiary that provides financial planning and investment management. Most financial planning clients have recently gone through a life-changing event, such as a divorce, business sale, inheritance or retirement, says Jay Pelham, who heads Kaufman Rossin Wealth. These kinds of events typically have them engaging with the firm’s accounting practice as well.
Miami’s largest locally based accounting firm, MBAF, is focusing on what it sees as trends, rather than entering new markets. This year, it hired a senior manager of innovation and transformation, Mariam De La Rosa Amen, a former managing consultant for IBM Global Business Services. “Today, to stay in business, you’ve got to see all the trends that are out there and adjust quickly,” says MBAF CEO Antonio Argiz. The firm sells its own software for non-profits, which, Argiz says, is used by most university foundations in the U.S., as well as a variety of other foundations. While he notes it’s only a $10-million business in MBAF’s $109 million in gross billings, it’s essentially a tech company within MBAF. That’s important, Argiz says: “I think our greatest challenge is in artificial intelligence and facing the future of disruption, almost becoming a technology company to survive.”
The former president of U.S. operations for Swire Properties, Stephen L. Owens; the former managing director of accounting firm Arthur Anderson, William D. Pruitt; and Shutts & Bowen law firm partner Bowman Brown launched the Opportunity Zone Fund of America. The fund aims to raise $200 million to invest in commercial businesses and real estate in Opportunity Zones.
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