Neil Della Torre, Partner, BDG CPAsNeil Della Torre, Partner
More than 40 years ago, the employee benefits landscape underwent a significant transformation with the introduction of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The legislation en-sured the establishment, operation, and administration of private retirement plans and made the government the guarantor of private pensions under the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp (PBGC). This favored the employees by securing their benefits. However, employers, on the other hand, faced tremendous difficulty navigating through the new standards and regulations while dealing with several vendors to manage onboarding, termination, life changes, employee questions, annu-al renewal reviews, and required communication. Additionally, systems and processes needed to be in place to manage all this information and relay them to the administrators accurately. In such a situation, employers sought a provider to handhold them through the reformed employee bene-fit terrain and simplify their processes.

It is at this juncture that BDG-CPAs came into the picture in 1982. The company is a technical tax, audit, accounting, and advisory firm that regularly coordinates with national firms, PCAOB, and local accounting firms. BDG-CPAs brings together information about clients’ financial position, re-sults of operations, and cash flows and delivers it in accordance with generally accepted account-ing standards to enable better decision-making.

In conversation with Manage HR magazine, Neil Della Torre, the Partner at BDG-CPAs, explains how the company plays a pivotal role in offering clients meaningful, timely, and accurate infor-mation. “Our mission is to continuously improve clients’ internal controls, tax savings, and offer trusted, informational financial statements,” states Torre.

What spurred BDG-CPAs’ formation?

Our firm was founded in 1982 after over 25 years of experience with the Big 4 firms, primarily PwC. During my years in PwC, I worked with several large clients and performed audits of em-ployee benefit plans and financial statements, according to ERISA. I was also responsible for train-ing other employees. With a good experience in ERISA and the inner workings of PwC, it was my goal to build a sound system of internal controls, designed on the premise that accounting is the language of business. Our second philosophy was around offering improved tax savings by per-forming accurate tax projections and preparing tax returns for clients. We also wanted to focus on performing audits according to the highest standards and offering trusted information to our cli-ents. We have consistently expanded our capabilities from just three plans to currently helping in over 100 employee benefit plans. Our experience and approach to help clients self-correct their policies, processes, and plans have kept us above the competition in the market. All our strategic goals and achievements are measured using the Balanced Scorecard. We are a very well-rounded organization catering to broker-dealers, manufacturing clients, and service industry clients.

Could you shed some light on the COSO Internal Control Framework?

COSO is one of the most acclaimed and the gold standard frameworks for internal controls. Our team is well-versed with all the 17 principles of this framework and has self-developed a turnkey approach that brings value to clients in a mutual search for improvement. We use this framework in our audits, and it acts almost as spyware working with our staff. As a result, this framework ul-timately reduces risks and enhances long-term growth for our clients.

Please elaborate on the services you offer.

A big part of what we do involves the employee benefit plan audits to meet the Department of La-bor requirements for Form 5500. We help with 401(k), 403(b) plans, profit sharing, defined benefit plans, and financial statements and file them with the IRS Form 5500 for certain plans over 100 participants. We have fiduciary governance over more than 100,000 participants and $6 billion in plan assets. Our team has a turnkey approach to perform audits, which is very thorough, highly efficient, client-friendly, and economical. They draft the financial statements from scratch, includ-ing footnote disclosures, in a manner that we maintain our independence while making a client fully understand their net assets and the footnotes available for benefits. We handhold them throughout the entire process, work according to their specific needs and offer pre-audit assis-tance for plan sponsors. Clients can benefit from our capabilities to document internal controls, reconciliations, preliminary testing, and draft financial statements according to the special GAAP and DOL requirements. Our extensive experience dealing with resolution plans and non-compliance issues enables us to coordinate with legal counsel efficiently. While engaging with cli-ents for audits, we perform comprehensive diagnostics of internal controls from three perspec-tives, financial reporting, efficiency, and effectiveness of the policies and procedures.

A big part of what we do involves the employee benefit plan audits to meet the Department of Labor requirements for Form 5500

Our firm also has the technical talent to offer accounting, tax, and attestation services. Being a full-service CPA firm for many prominent businesses, we can perform income and estate tax plan-ning and preparation and guide clients on income tax savings. We offer complete compliance for federal and multi-state tax filings, estimated tax calculations, accounting for income taxes, tax ex-amination representation, and high-level research and tax studies. In addition, we can structure transactions from planning strategies to minimizing tax exposure for clients. With our extensive knowledge of the U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and audits and reviews by major banks for decades, we can seamlessly perform agreed-upon procedures as defined by the Ameri-can Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). We can also prepare monthly, quarterly, and annual financial statements and assist with closings by providing technical accounting guidance with optimum coordination. Our team is well-versed in QuickBooks and has designed management information systems to identify key profitability indicators employing high-level cost accounting and management tools.

We also hire Big 4 caliber students, train them in best procedures and practices, and encourage them to follow high standards. We feel that it is a five-year commitment to make these students outstanding CPAs just by diversification of experience.

What does the future hold in store for the company?

We are highly focused on increasing the value of our services and want to push down more de-tailed work of automation. Our success relies greatly on our excellent support staff and a team, especially in the employee benefit plan area, along with a full administrator who works with fideli-ties, the AEPs, and the principle of getting information. Looking ahead, it’s going to be a year of great training with more and more people coming on board. We will grow our audits by several hundred and keep pace with automation and back-office support while becoming more responsive in completing all audits before the extension period. Our highly coordinated staff members are furthering our efficacy and efficiency in solving clients’ concerns.