The pros and cons

The Pros and Cons of Nonpartner Firm Ownership
I read with great excitement about the possibilities available to future accountants in "A Piece of the Action" (JofA, Aug.96, page 52). I applaud the firm of Saltz, Shamis & Goldfarb for offering all its professionals a chance to become owners through an employee stock ownership plan.

I graduated with highest honors and numerous achievements from a university many years ago with life aspirations and goals involving much more than just the CPA profession itself, so public accounting did not seem a viable career option. In fact, for many entrants to the workforce, it serves as a short-term training ground.

I am impressed with the insight and innovation this firm has shown in providing opportunities to hard-working professionals who contribute greatly but who may not be interested in the intensely demanding partnership track. This is especially uplifting news for CPAs like me who feel they have an obligation to give their families and communities the same dedication they offer the profession.

The success of this firm also should teach all of us a lesson. Treating all dedicated employees as valued, respected members of a firm and providing alternate opportunities for those with varying goals and abilities also can add financial value to a firm. I hope this will serve as a wake-up call to all public accounting firms that have closed the doors of opportunities for years to intelligent, hard-working professionals who did not fit a particular "mold" for partner.

Kathy R. Brown, CPA, CIA, CGFM
Richmond, Virginia

I n "A Piece of the Action," the authors describe a plan for retaining staff members as nonpartners and rhetorically ask, "What's wrong with being a senior manager for life, earning a fair wage and having the opportunity to make an investment in the firm?"

However, there is a lot wrong with being a senior manager for life, earning a "fair wage" without a yearend bonus, coupled with a noncompete agreement.

Partnerships, handsome salaries, bonuses and prestige are the goals and aspirations of outstanding professionals. The "senior manager for life" title lasts only at the pleasure of the partners. Nonvoting employee stock ownership plans speak for themselves.

Ambitious, creative professionals will seek their fortunes with firms that recognize that talent is the true net worth of a practice and do not hesitate to expand the ranks of the partners or else in industry where they are eagerly sought.

All else is smoke and mirrors.

Irving Amster, CPA
Setauket, New York

CPAs Can Help Plan for College
I read the case study "Helping Children Get What They Deserve" (JofA, Sept. 96, page 94). I am happy to see that some accountants are helping with college financial aid planning. Since I consider college financial aid planning to be joined at the hip with tax planning, I hope this article will prompt many other accountants to look at the feasibility of incorporating this service in their practices.

With the rapidly escalating costs of college, our clients desperately need this service. Unfortunately, the professional most capable of helping parents with the cost of college-their accountant or financial planner-does not understand the complex financial aid system. CPAs must educate themselves to be of greatest use to their clients.

Rick Darvis, CPA
Plentywood, Montana

Letters to the Editor
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