Weaver, a Texas-based independent certified public accounting firm, earlier this month announced expansion of existing services offered to financial institutions through a merger with Bank Advisory Resources, LLC.
“With Bank Advisory Resources joining Weaver, this allows the firm to add strong industry knowledge and be better positioned in our Advisory practice to provide independent loan reviews, bank regulatory audits, information technology reviews, and risk assessments to meet the growing compliance demand within the financial institutions industry sector,” Alyssa G. Martin, CPA and partner in charge of Weaver’s Advisory Services practice, said in a press release.
Bruce Zaret, CPA and partner in charge of Weaver’s Financial Institutions practice told AccountingWEB that accounting firms that serve the financial services industry can benefit from such a merger because it enables the firm to meet financial institutions' wide range of needs.
"Typically, accounting firms provide skilled financial accounting and auditing services – GAAP and professional auditing standards (AICPA and PCAOB). This merger brings to Weaver technical regulatory compliance and actual banking experience, which many professionals, who have spent their entire career in public accounting, lack," Zaret said.
"Professionals with regulatory and banking experience provide a keen practical perspective and can address issues facing boards of directors and executive management. This includes asset quality, operational risks, and adhering to new banking regulations," he said. "Combining regulatory, banking, IT, and professional accounting/consulting skills allows us to cover the full spectrum of a financial institution’s needs. Therefore, this merger allows our firm to look at issues holistically, thus providing a more comprehensive solution to the challenges financial institutions face."
However, the possibility of significant conflicts of interest must be considered, according to Zaret and Scott Opdahl, president of Bank Advisory Resources. Accounting firms are generally prohibited from auditing their own work. Thus, an accounting firm that provides independent loan review services – and possibly regulatory compliance audits – would typically not serve as the financial institution’s independent auditor, Zaret and Opdahl said.
"With the independent loan review function being the critical control in evaluating the adequacy of allowance for loan and lease losses, there may be a perception (appearance of lacking independence) that the evaluation was not independent of the audit. As a result, this presents an opportunity for accounting firms that do not provide advisory services (independent loan reviews, compliance/regulatory audits, IT audits, etc.) to financial institutions to refer those services to firms that do, and vice versa," Zaret told AccountingWEB.
Initially formed in 2002, Opdahl recognized the need for affordable, high-quality bank consulting services to the community banking market, according to the company. Bank Advisory Resources, a niche firm, provides consulting services to directors and executive management of community banks focusing on loan and credit administration, banking laws, and regulatory compliance issues across the Texas.
“The Bank Advisory Resources team brings nationally-recognized bank regulatory resources to the firm and adds a wealth of experience to complement Weaver’s existing financial institutions practice,” said Zaret, in a press release. “With banking laws and other regulations changing rapidly, the expanded financial institutions team will add to our efforts in helping clients navigate through the regulatory landscape.”
Opdahl will be a director in Weaver’s Financial Institutions Compliance Group and his team will reside in Weaver’s Houston office.
“Our clients will greatly benefit from the additional depth and resource base that Weaver provides,” said Opdahl. “We are better positioned to serve a growing number of banks within this specialized market and continue to build upon the close, enduring relationships we have with our current clients.”
Originally founded in 1950 as Weaver and Tidwell, L.L.P., the firm does business as Weaver
and currently employs more than 450 employees, including more than 350 accountants and professional staff. The firm has offices in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Midland, and Odessa.