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Clients should benefit from larger pool of talent

CPA firms say mergers will enhance services available

Three Jackson CPA firms and a CPA firm in Oxford have become larger with mergers that they say will improve business efficiency and the range of services offered to clients.

Effective Jan. 1, Grantham, Randall, Arrington & Company merged with Poole, Cunningham & Reitano to form Grantham, Poole, Randall, Reitano, Arrington and Cunningham LLC, which will do business as Grantham Poole CPAs. The new firm has a combined total of 38 employees.

Smith, Turner & Reeves, PA, has expanded into north Mississippi by merging with Vickie M. Cook, CPA, PA, of Oxford, creating a combined staff of 32.

Dorothy Gray, CPA, business manager for Grantham Poole CPAs, said one of the main advantages of the merger was being able to provide better services by increasing the types of services offered. Some CPA firms specialize only in one area such as doing audits or management advisory services.

“The advantage to us was to combine the firms so that we had more staff in order to have greater depth in all of those different areas,” Gray said. “Obviously, you get other advantages.

Larger size firms are able to do bigger things for clients. They are able to have alliances with other types of advisors. They do have the capability of having greater specialization. It also gives us an advantage in recruiting the type of additional staff members that we would want over the years. Getting good accountants is very competitive. And, it gives us opportunities to be more cost efficient because of the economies of scale in dealing with our own internal operating expenses.”

Gray said the merger had been considered for years. The biggest concern on both sides was that each firm wanted to be able to maintain the type of corporate culture they had. Gray said that was the issue discussed the most thoroughly during merger negotiations.

“Different firms can have different philosophies about what it is they want to provide to clients, and the level of importance that a client has to the firm,” Gray said. “Everyone is very excited about the merger; it feels like coming home for us. We have an opportunity to be part of a growing entity where clients and staff are like family and friends.”

Tom Grantham, managing partner of the firm, said the merger allows the company to offer services in a cost-efficient manner to many client categories, with the resources to serve individual clients as well as companies of any size.

Vance Randall, head of the tax department, said the firm has developed a reputation for working with clients to plan ahead of time.

“Preparing a tax return is like adding up the score after the game is over,” Randall said. “The only way to control the score is strategy during the game. That is the same approach we take with tax planning.”

Jon Turner, president of Smith, Turner & Reeves, said their merger gives the firm a strong presence in an area of the state that has experienced an economic boom in recent years. It also associated the eight-person Cook firm with one of Mississippi’s larger accounting firms.

“We have long relationships with clients in North Mississippi, and have witnessed first-hand the area’s tremendous economic growth,” said Turner. “That whole area — from Memphis south to Grenada and the North Delta across to Tupelo — has prospered, and we looked at several options to establish an office closer to our clients and better serve their needs. We’ve been encouraged by a number of clients and business leaders to expand into this area.”

Turner said the association with Cook CPA firm puts the company in the geographic center of the area, a location that positions the company to better serve existing clients while being able to recruit professional staff and response to new business needs.

Cook said she had declined merger overtures in the past, but found a good fit with Smith, Turner and Reeves.

“We share the same client-first philosophy and their growth in recent years attests to their quality,” Vickie Cook said. “Smith, Turner & Reeves is not your typical CPA firm. They possess an ‘out of the box’ vision and are much more than number crunchers. They have expertise in niche service areas such as business valuations, profit enhancement, strategic business planning, and services to lenders.”

The two companies began to work together in 1998, securing a two-year audit of Lafayette County. “Our ability to work so well together proved that a combination of firms was feasible,” Cook said.

The Cook firm is located on Jackson Avenue near Oxford’s acclaimed downtown Square.

Turner said the merger is viewed as an expansion of services throughout North Mississippi.

“This is a win-win situation for clients,” he said. “They will benefit from a company owned by Mississippians that offers staffing depth and technical expertise, plus the convenience of a local office. Additionally, it will be easy to attract talented staff to a great town like Oxford.”

It is the first expansion outside of Jackson for Smith, Turners & Reeves, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The company serves clients from throughout the Mid-South.


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