BDO Seidman Management Shakeup

Amid a barrage of scrutiny by the IRS regarding its tax practices and product line, top 10 CPA firm BDO Seidman is shuffling its management and looking fresh at strategic directions for its future.

The firm announced last week that CEO Denis Field - who rose through the ranks as a champion of BDO's tax consulting practice - is taking an "indefinite" leave of absence.

Additionally, five of twelve members of the board of directors are being replaced, resulting in equal representation between the audit and tax disciplines at the firm.

Vice Chairman Jack Weisbaum will come out of retirement to oversee day to day operations and take over the role of chairman of the board from Dennis Fusco, who resigned.

A BDO spokesman indicated that the changes were not a result of IRS legislation, but was intended as a way for "adjusting the leadership of the firm for the future" to "more accurately reflect the shift in focus for the entire accounting industry."

BDO's tax consulting practice experienced significant growth under Denis Field's leadership, increasing from $15 million to over $100 million between FY 1999 and FY 2000. As the regulatory climate changed since Sarbanes-Oxley, and with increased scrutiny by the IRS of its tax product line, more and more partners at BDO were looking for ways to refocus the firm on its core audit and tax services, and move away from the riskier tax consulting services.

Additional changes in its own governance structure are expected, including open elections for CEO and term limits for Board members.

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