Top CPAs offer insights on their accounting fields
Accounting is “the language of business,” says G. Blake Manners, a partner at Ernst & Young (EY) in Richmond.
Blake is one of this year’s Super CPAs, a group highly fluent in accounting. The list of top Virginia CPAs, published every year since 2001, is a collaboration between Virginia Business and the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA).
The list recognizes CPAs selected by their peers as the profession’s leaders in 12 accounting categories.
This year more than 8,000 VSCPA members received Super CPA ballots. The electronic ballots allow CPAs to vote for members of their own firms, but for the ballots to be valid, they are required to vote for an equal number of CPAs outside their firms. “Outside” votes are assigned a higher value in totaling the score for each nominee.
Four hundred fifty-eight CPAs participated in this year’s voting, nominating 1,182 CPAs. Three hundred forty-one made the final list. About 100 more CPAs were nominated this year compared with voting in 2012.
In the following pages, Virginia Business profiles 12 CPAs, one representative from each category. These CPAs were selected from the top 10 vote getters in each group. The profile subjects, however, are not necessarily the people receiving the most votes. CPAs who have been profiled in past Super CPA lists weren’t considered.
The CPAs were asked to comment on their involvement in accounting and trends in their fields.
Manners, who is profiled under the Assurance Services category, says that while he was attracted to accounting because of its ability to communicate business performance, he has stayed in the field “because of the people — both client and EY professionals. I enjoy interfacing with people across my clients’ organizations on a daily basis to provide exceptional service, as well as working with our younger EY professionals to solve complex challenges for our clients.”
Lynn Taylor, chief financial officer at Zel Technologies in Hampton, talks about the challenges facing government contractors, including reductions and termination of government programs, significant delays in contract awards and pressures to submit lowest-price, technically acceptable proposals.
“Midsize companies such as mine especially face a difficult environment, in that we have exceeded certain size standards and therefore are ineligible for small-business set asides, yet we often have to compete with large companies that have better access to the resources necessary to win new business,” she says.
Other CPAs comment on the challenges facing their clients. Marty Boone, a senior manager with Anderson & Reed in Roanoke, for example, offers a window on the deliberations her clients are going through in preparing for next year’s employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act.
“Our clients are consulting with experienced benefit advisers to explore various options available related to the play-or-pay decision and to ensure compliance,” she says. “Numbers are being crunched using ‘most likely’ scenarios to estimate the financial impact of various coverage options to both employer and employee.”
She believes public and private exchanges, opened in October, will help decision making, as the cost and quality of insurance options become better known.
One thing that Super CPAs can pass on to college students struggling to make a career choice in a slowly recovering economy is the value of an accounting degree. Job prospects for accounting majors have been “excellent,” says Randall Spurrier, senior lecturer at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. “Almost all of the ODU accounting graduates are able to find a job in the accounting profession after graduation.”