Leaving the largest Florida-based CPA Firm (Top 40 Accounting Firm) in the United States of America ("U.S.") to start a new Firm after nearly 9 years of service is probably never an easy decision, but starting Hudson Robillard & Co, a Florida CPA Firm, has been such a wonderful learning experience! I would have done it again. It has given me the opportunity to be a stronger advocate for the accounting profession and to create more opportunities for others like Miami Dade College business students who otherwise would have had to wait until the end of their 4th year to start an internship at one of the mid-size CPA Firms or a Big 4 CPA Firm. With Hudson Robillard & Co. ("Us or We"), many of them have had an early exposure and have done meaningful internships with us. It is truly our vision and passion to grow into a nationally recognized resource center for small businesses where we can provide exceptional client accounting services using cloud based technologies.
Working with small business owners:
During the year, I have met with many small business owners who operated their businesses without an accounting system – there is no sale journal – no purchase journal – no cash receipt journal – no cash disbursement journal – no payroll journal – oh yes, no general journal; it has been my driven passion and pleasure to work with these individuals to build an appropriate record keeping system that fits their business size, structure, and complexity of transactions. Along the way, I have brought in my students to help with these projects. These are not complicated tasks! These are things that accounting students in their 1st and 2nd year of college can begin to wrap their hands around in drawing and/or designing business processes flowcharts – documents flowcharts, which will strengthen their visual and practical learning abilities and capabilities. We have done the small things that could make a difference as to whether these businesses can qualify for a Small Business Administration ("SBA") loan or not. These small things count and these small business owners also need advisors who can help them to see the light and to take their business to the next level!
We have helped small businesses owners to design and to implement business processes that have allowed them to achieve basic financial reporting objectives either by creating a full accounting system - where there were none or by converting their business processes from a manual accounting system to a cloud based accounting system, which automatically enhanced their operating efficiency and reporting abilities.
Working with community Banks:
It has been great to continue to work with community banks like Banesco USA, where we serve as consultants to assist the Trade Financing Department and the Asset Based Lending (ABL) Monitoring Department in the monitoring of their ABL Credit Facilities. We assist by performing various types of agreed upon procedures on detailed accounts receivable, aging of invoices, aging of accounts payable, review of monthly sales report detailing export versus domestic sales for the month, and review of the borrowing base calculation certificate. This is an area where we feel like we can be a reliable locally outsourced partner to community banks to assist them in the monitoring of these ABL products. We will certainly continue our efforts to market our services and to serve more community banks in this area. Our fees are reasonably lower than market!
Going forward, our extensive experience working with financial institutions can continue to be a reliable source to provide guidance and expert opinions in matters such as maintaining proper internal controls, implementing proper segregation of duties, and complying with policies and procedures. We truly enjoy and certainly have a passion to work with community Banks' management. Not only do they understand why they do what they do, they tend to be more organized and open to constructive criticism, which we really like. They are some of the best management teams to work with!
Providing IRS unlimited representation to both individuals and businesses:
We have had the privilege to work with a Haitian owned bakery located in Broward, county, Florida. Like many other small businesses, they face serious financial and regulatory challenges every day. Working with the owner has brought a new perspective to what I call the elephant in the room in the Haitian business community in South Florida. This is a story about a business that faced multiple years of employment/payroll tax non-compliance penalties and interest by the Internal Revenue Service and other State sales tax related issues with the Florida Department of Revenue. All of which were caused by inadequate business management oversight and an irresponsible bookkeeper who didn't seem to care to file timely reports to the respective governmental agencies. This apparent material deficiency in management's ability to appropriately respond to IRS inquiries and this bookkeeper lack of professional due care and negligent behavior have exposed the business to significant tax liens and levies. It wasn't until the IRS decided to actually levy the business bank account for a second time, which nearly crippled all business operations that the owner decided to get a 3rd party involved; otherwise, the owner could have lost the business. The IRS was ready to go to the extreme and to order that the business assets be liquidated to pay off back taxes. Even then, the owner wanted to stick with this bookkeeper "a Mr. Goldenberg" because per the owner's assessment, there is no Haitian professional in the community worthy of Trust and/or who can help in this situation. Really I asked?
When the owner was referred to my Firm, at first, the owner did not want to meet me simply because of the owner's apparent deep skepticism of the integrity of Haitians' professionals, which undermines the detrimental economic issue of Trust that allegedly exists in the Haitian Business environment at all levels – business to business – business to consumers – and consumers to consumers. This really begs the question of what have we done to our own people to the point that they are so afraid to do business with us?
As a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), I think this issue represents a material weakness within the Haitian Business Community and it needs to be appropriately addressed to restore confidence in the consumers' minds and beliefs so that they can Trust our end products and services again. This issue is so economically important that community leaders and others involved should not continue to act blind and should take a stand to root out all bad actors that are destroying the economic soul of the consumers in our community. We have to be our own watch dog! Our clients' interests should be before our own interest. We have a responsibility and/or an obligation to exceed our clients' expectations if we are to prosper as a group. Should we allow the current business practices to continue, they will effectively continue to push away all good hearted and highly qualify Haitians than to come back to serve the community; hence, they will take their human resources elsewhere and will assist other communities to build in a fair and equitable manner. The point is simple; no significant economic progress can ever be made until we fix this!
We are at a crucial time in our history here in South Florida where we are slowly becoming a very important voting block and an emerging constituent with tremendous potential collective economic power. So, let's act like it by doing things to empower our small businesses to be more competitive in this global economy. At this moment, we may need to begin to think about creating more economic opportunities and building legacies for the next generation of Haitian American University graduates who would like to come back to work in their Community. After all, it is their community too – their mothers and fathers are Haitians just like everyone else – so they are stakeholders with high interest for the wellbeing of the community. Through this process, a generational conflict may arise where the new generation of Haitian Americans' mindset, philosophical approach to doing business, and ethical values may collide with those of the previous generation. Whether this happen or not, we need to begin to set higher standards for ourselves in the way we treat each other in our business dealings. Otherwise, it is highly likely that we will not be going anywhere as a group.
During the year, it was really hard to watch high profile individuals being accused and arrested for alleged fraud and other type of financial abuses. A clear example is the arrest of this Haitian radio host who was openly broadcasting all across South Florida airwaves his alleged Ponzi scheme that cost many Haitian-Americans their hard earned money. If continued, these events and others will only add to the mistrust and will continue to adversely impact all of us.
My view is that the demand for goods and services in the Haitian market right here in South Florida is very strong, but the mechanisms through which we meet the needs of the Haitian consumers appear very weak due to lack of training, competence, and due care in many of the providers. As a result, many of the Haitian consumers are fleeing the Haitian owned businesses causing potential economic losses in the millions of dollars every year. Where do we go from here?
Reassess our attitudes as to how we conduct business, begin to design, to establish, and to implement a framework that encourages excellence, and make an effort to adopt respective industry best business practices are our modern time savior "the Jesus of our businesses". Small businesses are the backbone of every community, but they must act responsibly and build capabilities to be able to meet all of their core objectives whether strategic, operational, financial, and regulatory. Without a strong small business community to facilitate and to encourage high velocity of exchanges amongst market participants, there can't be economic growth (i.e. growth in regional GDP, high employment rate etc…). I will leave you with this question, from a list of the top 50 industries in Florida, how many Haitian businesses and/or Firms altogether are ready to offer 100 to 200 internships positions to our new Haitian graduates annually?
We have a lot of work to do to provide better economic opportunities for our sons and daughters. We are a growing community with desires for goods and services from every spectrum of the economy, let's begin to build businesses that can meet the demands of the Haitian consumers with integrity, respect, objectivity, and competence. Let's join forces, let's work together, let's build our first community bank, a large hospital, a large supermarket, a five star restaurant, a technology firm…let's create jobs with great employee benefits to attract the best minds to serve our people!
To cut a long story short, the Firm was able to represent the bakery before the IRS, stopped all further IRS actions against the business bank account, requested and was given nearly 45 days to review the issues during which time a compliance action-plan was drafted, all tax reports were subsequently filed both at the Federal level and State level. The business is now in compliance and is currently in the process of negotiating a payment plan for previous miscues. The Haitian bakery owner is now happier then ever!
Presenting at various events and seminars:
During the year, I have had the opportunity to speak at various seminars and events. Most notably,
- At the Capitol tour – Young CPAs Committee of the FICPA Capitol Tour – February 19, 2014.
- The AICPA Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop for Minority College Accounting Major, hosted by the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants July 24-26 at the Riverside Hotel on Las Olas – Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
- CPE Event hosted by the FICPA - South Dade Chapter – Presented on Asset Based Lending Field Examination.
- At the FICPA Accounting Show – Presented on Asset Based Lending Audit "the Basics". September 17 – 19, 2014.
Teaching at Miami Dade College:
During the year, I became an adjunct professor at Miami Dade College, where I teach Financial and Managerial accounting. Working with these students is one the best of things I could have ever done. It reminds of so many things: 1) going back to my roots, 2) doing something that I really enjoy 3) giving back to the community in a meaningful way. I don't feel like I want to trade this for anything. In fact, with your help, I want to create more opportunities; I want to find partners (i.e. other organizations that are in need of accounting students - we can help them to find jobs and to do things like being an account payable clerk, an account receivable clerk, a payroll specialist, and other basic things. We need to find meaningful ways to expose these students to the accounting profession early, where they can have practical experience while they are going through the accounting program – They shouldn't have to wait until their 3rd or 4th year to face off with performing relevant accounting tasks. Accounting has to make sense early! Accounting needs to be personable to them! And there is no better way than practicing while learning at school (i.e. on the job training!) - Of course, if you have a better way, I am ready to listen!!! I'd like to work with you on this!
The CPA profession:
CPAs throughout the world have so much to offer in assisting companies and governmental institutions to build strong organizational structure to meet their objectives, in providing independent opinions on financial reports to help investors in their decision making, and in assisting individuals and families with their Tax Planning, Trust Planning, Retirement Planning, Estate Planning etc…, yet so many people out there have no clue what a CPA does or stands for. This is a disservice to our credential, to our profession – more needs to be done in this area to expose the profession for what it is and to begin to create more opportunities for college business students even in their 1st or 2nd year of studies so long they are interested. And so much more to share! No one word can really expresses my feelings about the future. All I know is that next year will be better than this year and so on and so forth!I am so blessed to be alive, so blessed to live here in the United States of America, so blessed to be presented with so many opportunities – it feels great to be able to pick and choose!
Going forward, Hudson Robillard & Co. remains strong and is looking for opportunities to make a difference in the small business community especially the Haitian business community. Our clientele is very diverse; we work with all business and people from all walks of life. I am so excited about the opportunity to be a voice in the Haitian business community. If you want quality, we are it!
Thank you all for your great wishes and support!Respectfully yours,
Hudson Robillard, CPA, CGMA | Managing Director (Bio)
1125 NE 125th Street Suite 209 North Miami, Florida 33161
T 786-361-3931| Cell 305-610-9819| www.HRCOCPA.com
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