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Doug Richardson of Frost PLLC Talks Changes, Trends in Accounting (Exec Q&A)

2 min read

Doug Richardson, chairman of the executive committee of Frost PLLC in Little Rock and assurance services partner, began working for Frost PLLC in 1986.

Background: Richardson, 48, is a native of Viola (Fulton County). He graduated from Arkansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Experience: As a partner, Richardson is primarily engaged in audits of food processing and animal agriculture companies. He has owned Richardson Land & Cattle, a beef production company in the Elizabeth (Fulton County) area, for more than 30 years.

Q: What is new in ownership succession plans for businesses?

A: One of the most significant opportunities available to business owners is the ability to minimize their estate and gift tax liabilities. The opportunity to transfer wealth to loved ones tax free is a significant benefit to family businesses. A substantial portion of this benefit, however, will expire on Dec. 31. What that means is that between now and the end of the year each small-business owner should be reviewing their estate and gift plans.

I think that it is important to emphasize that the time to act is now. To complete a thorough review of your assets will take time. To make decisions on what actions to take will take time. To implement those decisions will take time. All transfers must be completed before Dec. 31.

Additionally, a well-reasoned business valuation report is critical to ensuring that the gift transaction passes IRS muster at the intended values.

Q: Are accounting businesses consolidating much in Arkansas?

A: Consolidation in the accounting industry has been occurring and this trend will continue. The consolidation trend is driven by the continuous stream of rules and regulations that we, as a profession, must address for our clients.

Q: What are the prospects for new college graduates with accounting degrees?

A: For the past several years, college graduates with accounting degrees have entered an economy that is stable and more sheltered from the business cycle fluctuations than other industries. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for those with accounting degrees are expected to increase at a higher rate than the average job opportunity found in other sectors over the next several years.

Q: Are there any new industry regulations that concern you?

A: There are new regulations coming down the pike every day from governmental entities, like the new health care regulations.

Specifically regarding food and agriculture companies, the Farm Service Agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently notified individuals and legal entities that receive payments through certain farming programs under the Food Conservation & Energy Act of 2008 that they need to provide CPA attestation, among other things, verifying the participants’ average adjusted gross income did not exceed the applicable limitations. The act requires program participants to prove that they meet certain AGI limitations to receive benefits.

This is just one small example of government regulation affecting our ag clients.

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