Accounting firm expands its services in tech-driven era

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO RKL advisers, such as Gretchen Naso (left), Paula Barrett and Zachary Stricker in the firm’s Spring Township office, assist clients with a growing range of business matters.

One Pennsylvania accounting firm has a formula for adding value to its services by expanding its offerings and giving clients a portfolio of options that fulfills a wide range of demands.

Recently, RKL LLP, which has offices in Berks and Lehigh counties, shifted its focus to a company vision that aims at growth and development and targets its full array of services. Professional areas include information technology, wealth management, risk management, merger and acquisition assistance, performance improvements, human resources and consulting services.

The firm intends to use its new vision as a road map for the future.

“We know we cannot survive and grow if we are just doing tax and accounting work,” said Ed Monborne, CEO of RKL. “The plan strives to strengthen our client offerings and enhance and build our team.”

Software and technology have “diminished the amount of compliance work that we do, minimized the amount of time we spend on tax services,” Monborne said. “We used to do depreciation schedules by hand, and now the computer does it. Technology feeds everything to clients” and at a much faster pace.

Monborne said the firm looks at each service it provides as necessary for the firm’s stability and sustainability. The speed of technology has allowed the firm to uncover many new opportunities to respond to customer needs.

“We listen to our clients, what are their challenges and what drives them,” he said. “We do not sit around and say, ‘I think we will push this service or that service.’ ”

WIDE RANGE OF BUSINESS MATTERS

Monborne said the Certified Public Accounting firm will continue to provide traditional tax, audit and accounting services.

However, RKL has spent the last few years actively building, promoting, marketing and reinforcing its other professional offerings.

The firm features a wealth management subsidiary, a well-established IT services group, risk management work and an HR consulting group.

“Given the trust and relationships we’ve built with our clients, we’re often the first place they turn [to] with a wide range of business matters,” said Steve Fisher managing partner of RKL’s Spring Township office and leader of the firm’s audit services group. “Our team’s specialized and diverse expertise means we can help clients with complex challenges like compensation issues and supply chain management.”

INDUSTRYWIDE COMMITMENT

According to Mike Colgan, CEO and executive director of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, accounting firms such as RKL acknowledge they must switch gears and modify their capabilities to keep in line with technology.

‘They have positioned themselves as business advisers. People are relying on CPAs to handle cybersecurity auditing, for instance,” Colgan said.

“Clients want CPAs to drive analytics and decision-making and avoid cyberthreats.”

EMPHASIS ON INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Monborne said IT services are going to be a large focus for RKL in the next five years.

RKL provides solutions related to enterprise products, software support and management, development of custom applications, cybersecurity, cyberfraud and risk assessment.

“We have about 100 people in information technology in 22 states across the country” involved with RKL’s IT subsidiary, Monborne said.

WEALTH MANAGEMENT

The firm has found success by using its accounting background and providing services that encompass a variety of industries.

One example is RKL’s wealth management entity, which exists out of the firm’s offices throughout Pennsylvania. RKL Wealth Management, as it is called, manages about $1 billion in assets for clients, according to Monborne.

Companywide “we are expecting $80 million in revenue in 2018, and our average annual growth since 2011 has been about 18 percent. In that time frame, there have been mergers, but maybe only 6 percent of that growth came from mergers,” Monborne said.

16 OFFICES

Monborne said RKL has quite the extensive history of mergers, consolidations with other firms and name changes. He said the company’s origins as a CPA firm can be tracked to the late 1940s.

“Our headquarters is now wherever I am located,” said Monborne, who lives in Lancaster.

RKL has 16 offices, including ones in Spring Township and in Upper Macungie Township. The firm serves businesses in the mid-Atlantic.

Much of RKL’s client base consists of family owned and privately held companies. Clients run the gamut from financial institutions and government agencies to community and nonprofit organizations.

UNDERSTANDING THE COMMUNITY

Fisher said RKL has made itself a fixture in the local business community.

“It allows us to gain a better understanding of the wants, needs and challenges of owners and financial executives in the Berks and Lehigh Valley region,” he said.

“As RKL continues to grow and evolve, one thing that won’t change is our commitment to our communities.”

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