What is Keeping Us Busy This Year (SO FAR)?

By Dennis Gardiner, Managing Partner

Mergers – A surprising number of our cooperative and credit union clients are, or have been, in conversations with neighboring or nearby cooperatives and credit unions. It seems like every week we learn of another. It is wide-spread with clients in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota and South Dakota. The reasons all vary from the right time to take advantage of opportunity, economies of scale, manager retiring, and a few out of necessity (or perceived necessity). Some of the roles we find ourselves playing include: counting ballots, performing short-period audits related to the merger dates, identifying the acquirer in the transaction, and assisting legal counsel with Hart-Scott-Rodino filing analysis. Our discussions related to the mergers include: best month to close the fiscal year, computer systems to use, payroll processing vendors to use, structuring the chart of accounts to accommodate a much larger company and many more.

Manager retirements – I am not sure what we are seeing more frequently, mergers or managers retiring. We find ourselves saying goodbye to many friends of the firm as they move to the next stages of their lives (well deserved). Some of the new managers are just starting to be named and starting at these cooperatives. We look forward to working with the next generation of managers at these companies.

Getting ready to educate our staff – we have minimum annual hours of continuing education required to maintain our licenses. The firm will be having its annual staff training in early-May, bringing all of our staff to Des Moines for 24 hours of education. We will cover topics including: audit and reporting standards update, tax update, common fraud schemes, internal controls and risk assessment, group audits, deferred taxes, using laser measurers for grain and fertilizer, and several more. We will try to squeeze in a golf day and a night at the ballpark, since it is so rare we are all together at one time. We have staff attending fraud auditing continuing education for their Certified Fraud Examiner designation. Employee benefit plan auditing continuing education has become a greater focus as the number of 401K plans requiring audits has increased with all of the mergers. We have a small group of our auditors focusing in this very specific type of audit engagement. We have even added ESOP continuing education as we have had one of our larger clients create an ESOP to acquire their company.

CPA Exam – We have seen a number of our staff sitting for and passing the CPA exam. We are very pleased to have these staff put in the efforts and attain the certification. We would like to congratulate three GT team members who recently earned their CPA certification: Aiden Schade, Patrick Mansheim and Matt Larson!

Adding Staff – We have been trying to hire additional staff for all of the offices to accommodate our growth. There is probably no worse time for trying to hire accountants/CPAs, as most of those with experience are probably knee-deep in tax returns at other firms, and we are still about a month away for new graduates to complete their education. We have interviews underway, but are still looking for candidates for consideration. That said, we have been very pleased with our current level of staff retention. We have been successful in keeping some of our younger staff at a rate that we have not seen for twenty years. Why should you care? That means that you see familiar faces on your audit, allowing our team(s) to provide you with efficient audit services where our staff don’t have to learn who you are, what you do and how you do it. Also, your people do not have to spend time helping to train our staff.

It is going to be another very busy year…..again! Nothing makes us happier!