A Productivity in Practice Feature
From the October 2011 Issue
Accountants and accounting firms have long suffered from the false stereotype of being stodgy, even predictable and boring. Even more so, the auditor: that truly numbers-focused researcher of data whose sole purpose is to determine the propriety of an organization’s financial reporting and their internal controls over financial reporting. Perhaps only actuaries are more maligned in their public perception.
But what happens when a young CPA with a background in music and graphic design challenges those notions?
While the curmudgeon stereotype may occasionally be deserved, especially at large practices with rigid corporate cultures, it certainly isn’t fitting for Tim Gavin or the firm for which he works, Sikich, LLP (www.Sikich.com). The 30 year-old CPA and auditor has worked out of the firm’s Aurora, Illinois, office since graduating college, and moved into the role of audit supervisor after attaining his credential.
|Tim Gavin, CPA, MBA|
Audit Supervisor — Sikich LLP
Productivity Score: 389
Tim’s primary engagements involve audits of local governments, which he notes have seen significant changes in their audit and financial reporting requirements over the past few years. At the same time, local governments have experienced shrinking staffs and payrolls, and this combination has brought challenges in their financial management, processes and internal controls. Sikich has developed a core specialty in providing audits to these entities, and is the largest provider of these services in the Chicago area, with some municipal clients having up to 200,000 residents. In addition to audits and other attestation functions, the firm’s government team has a services side that regularly provides local governments with temporary in-office staff and management.
As with most audit engagements, much of the work is done in the field. That’s definitely the case with Tim, who estimates he sometimes sees his office as little as one or two days a month, and an aggregate of perhaps two months out of the year. Fortunately, most of his engagements are in the Chicago area, which allows the husband and father of two to have dinner with his family and then, if necessary, continue work from home in the evenings.
“I mostly work from client sites and from home, and only have to go in for occasional reporting and planning,” he noted. “But since Sikich is a very technologically progressive firm, we always have full remote connectivity with the engagement management systems we use, as well as our other professional applications.”
As an experienced field auditor, Tim also helps identify new technology tools and helped his firm implement the use of additional mobile monitors. Sikich has long had multiple monitors for workstations, but the challenge of finding an easily portable option for their field teams was a challenge. The firm ultimately decided on standard desktop LCD monitors with GearGrip LCD shield harnesses from Case Ace (www.geargrip.com).
Sikich realized early on the significant role of technology in the modern practice. In the mid-1980s, the firm had two office locations, but would soon experience dramatic growth as a result of the strategic foresight of CEO Jim Sikich, CPA, and other partners, who expanded the firm into less traditional service areas. In addition to A&A, taxation, business valuation, investment banking, retirement plan services, and wealth management, the practice also has specialties in human resource consulting, technology services, and graphic design and marketing.