Behind the List with Paul Conforti of Riley and Company Inc.

Commitment to clients and the community

Running a business, small or large, always has a need for accounting services.

From managing budgets to tax preparation, keeping finances in check is imperative to the well-being of a company.

Throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley, there are accounting and tax preparation firms equipped with the resources to help your business thrive.

One firm with a strong presence in the area is Riley and Co. Inc. in Stroud Township.

Here to answer this week’s “Behind the List” questions is Paul Conforti, managing shareholder of the accounting firm.

Lehigh Valley Business: How long has Riley and Co. Inc. been operating in the region and what are its primary services?

Paul Conforti: Riley and Co. was established in 1969 by John J. Riley. He opened up the doors of his accounting practice with just himself and a secretary.

Through his commitment to clients and the community and a strong work ethic, the firm has grown to what it is today. Presently, there are four shareholders and 10 additional team members.

The primary services offered by Riley and Co. are business advisory services to help clients reach their goals; tax planning and preparation; audit, review and compilation of financial statements; certified fraud investigation; certified valuation analysis; and payroll and bookkeeping services.

LVB: What have been some of the biggest challenges and opportunities that Riley and Co. Inc. has encountered throughout its years in business?

Conforti: Since 1969 when Riley and Co. opened its doors, the business arena, accounting industry and the world in general have changed rapidly.

I remember when we purchased our first fax machine and put computers on everyone’s desk. Now we are exploring ways to capitalize on social media, the newest technologies, working on the cloud and maintaining our unity as we explore the concepts of everyone working remotely.

The constant change with compliance rules and regulations continues to be a challenge within the industry. In addition, the services we offered as a traditional accounting firm are becoming a commodity and replaced by artificial intelligence.

So, the opportunity now lies in capitalizing on the one thing the computers cannot do, and that is providing sound, professional judgement.

Then there are the issues of computer security and cyberattacks. Small public accounting firms are a target of cyberattacks because of the amount of confidential information that they have in their systems.

But rather than look at these as problems, we need to look at them as opportunities to assist our clients. Riley and Co. stays current and employs new technology that benefits our clients and their relationship with us.

Within the last few years, we have introduced new ways that we share information with our clients and how they communicate with us. We achieved this through utilizing encrypted email which provides data breach protection, ShareFile portal that is used to store information for round-the-clock access and RightSignature, that allows clients to electronically sign documents on a mobile device or any web browser.

These issues of compliance and computer security are not just problems in the accounting industry. They are widespread throughout all industries.

With these challenges, our commitment to our clients remains unchanged, and our goal to help our clients reach their goals remains our purpose.

LVB: How does Riley and Co. Inc. directly stimulate the local economy? How does it get involved with the local community?

Conforti: In the 49 years we have been in business, we have always been committed to providing professional advisory services to help our business clients flourish, which helps stimulate the local economy.

John J. Riley was extremely committed to the community, and the firm he established continues to follow his example.

We participate in community projects, are members of various community organizations, including the local chambers, and provide financial support to many local charities. Members of our team are also involved in Rotary and Kiwanis clubs.

LVB: Does Riley and Co. Inc. provide its services solely in the Greater Lehigh Valley/Pocono area, or does it expand into other markets? What are some of the industries that you provide services for within the region?

Conforti: Riley and Co. primarily provides services in the local regions, but we have clients in more distant areas such as the Carolinas, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Connecticut and even California.

One of the most wonderful opportunities of today’s technology is the ability to service clients remotely. We no longer need a physical presence.

Utilizing cloud software, we can view client’s financial data at the same time they are looking at it. This provides the opportunity to provide advisory services in real time. Distance and travel are no longer a barrier.

At Riley and Co., we provide services for a range of industries, including manufacturing, nonprofit organizations, construction, restaurants, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, health care and others.

LVB: What does the future look like for Riley and Co. Inc.? Does it have plans for growth?

Conforti: The future is exciting. There is so much change on the horizon it is impossible to be bored.

We plan on Riley and Co. being around for many more years. We continue to explore new ways to help our clients meet their needs.

Who knows what the future will hold?

People, procedures and client needs will change. Our intent is to continue to change as the needs for our services change, but the things that will remain intact are the commitment to our clients and the bedrock values upon which this firm have been established: honesty, integrity and hard work.

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