Executives worried about data security are driving a spike in demand for skilled number crunchers who are well-versed in technology, according to a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based accounting firm.
In response to the outcry for integrated software security and accounting services, Scenic City accounting firm Decosimo has partnered with Alpharetta, Ga.-based Staffing Technologies to offer expanded IT and other temporary services to augment clients' staffs.
"Accounting and security go hand in hand," said Mike Costello, a managing principal and forensic accountant at Decosimo.
Decosimo announced the new partnership in the wake of severe data breaches at retailers like Target, Neiman Marcus and Michael's. Target alone lost 40 million payment card numbers and 70 million other records to hackers, as well as concerns about organized government or criminal intrusions.
Such breaches -- which many suspect may be tied to organized crime -- can severely impact a company's profitability, and could also bring them under heavy regulatory scrutiny.
Target, the third-largest retailer in the U.S., saw a 46 percent decrease in its holiday profits, including a $61 million charge related to the breach. A Congressional subcommittee this week demanded that Target turn over documents dealing with the breach, after conversations with the retailer's government relations staff yielded more questions than answers.
Staffing Technologies, which boasts 840 properties in 22 states and four countries, brings in more than $60 million in revenue, a number that could rise to $75 million as the economy improves, said Jim McNabb, president and CEO of the company.
McNabb works with clients like AT&T and Home Depot, bringing in high-skill contractors to bring companies' networks up to the latest standards. Now, he'll be working hand in hand with Decosimo's auditors, financial planners and forensic accountants, helping companies balance their books without jeopardizing their security.
"If you've got a 10-year-old system that's fixing to crash and it's going to put all your financial services at risk, it comes out during these discussions," McNabb said. "It's kind of the perfect marriage."
With businesses newly attuned to the need for tighter security and better technology after the retail breaches and high-profile disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, McNabb thinks the time is right to partner up with a known, trusted firm like Decosimo.
For Decosimo, a big advantage to partnering with another company, as opposed to adding IT staff in house, is that the arrangement allows Decosimo to maintain its independent status as an auditor, said Fred Decosimo, principal at the firm's Chattanooga office.
"In some cases, we can't be auditing the systems that we've implemented," he said.
And while McNabb is gaining a crucial partner that already works hand-in-hand with many businesses in the region, Decosimo is gaining the built-in experience of a major staffing firm that's been in business for decades, something that would be difficult to build from the ground up, said Tom Decosimo, CEO and managing principal of Decosimo Corporate Finance.
"Rather than us try to create it ourselves, which might take 30 years, what we would rather do is say, 'Jim, we want to partner up with you to take care of our clients' needs, whether it be financial, IT or security,' and it just gives us a chance to work together," Decosimo said. "We have developed these relationships throughout our footprint. What we're trying to do is marry these companies together."
Copyright 2014 - Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.