IGAF Firms Interview with Humberto Torres-Rodriguez of TorresCPA Group

This is one article in a series of interviews with firms that are members of the International Group of Accounting Firms (IGAF).

Before joining TorresCPA Group in San Juan, Puerto Rico as partner, Humberto Torres-Rodriguez managed his own firm for twenty years, where he worked to create a different environment, one with a focus on people and team effort, that would lead to greater productivity and outstanding client service. In TorresCPA, he says he has found a firm with the same commitment to client relationships, developing people, and in-house mentoring.

As evidence of this commitment and a source of great pride, TorresCPA has an outstanding record for staff retention. For the past five years, all of their partners and managers, 90 percent of their supervising seniors, and 80 percent of their seniors have remained with the firm.

To build a culture where people are viewed as the greatest asset and the foundation of quality service, Torres says, "People need to be able to work with confidence. Partners and staff need to think that they are two people working together. Our staff embodies the culture. Everybody likes what they are doing, they are proud of the firm and what they do, and that tells our clients we are a good place to get service."

In construction, one industry where TorresCPA has a specialized practice, and where the firm is an acknowledged leader, clients are concerned about the business outlook. "Things must turn around," Torres says. "Our clients are looking for new work, for sales, and are concerned about cash." While they may worry about being billed for consultation right now, "it is better to pay your CPA than to have a bad outcome." TorresCPA Group is a member of the Construction CPA Consultants Association (CICPAC), a network of CPA firms in the United States specifically selected for their experience and commitment to serve the construction industry.

TorresCPA provides traditional audit and tax services to clients in manufacturing, retail and real estate management among other industries, in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and the United States. The firm also offers a wide range of additional services such as management and information systems consulting, lean management, construction claims, and investment banking. TorresCPA is a member of the AICPA.

When other accountants ask him what he does during the summer, Torres answers "Audits, audits, audits." While Puerto Rico companies do not file in the U.S., any company, public or private, with revenue greater than $1,000,000 currently and $3,000,000 in 2009, is required to include financial statements certified by a CPA licensed in Puerto Rico with their income tax return, their property tax return, and the volume of business return. Special partnerships with revenue in excess of $500,000 are required to file financial statements with their volume of business report. Corporations must also file financial statements with their tax returns. Foreign corporations doing business in Puerto Rico need audited financial statements signed by a CPA licensed in Puerto Rico since they are incorporated in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico requires CPAs licensed in Puerto Rico to be residents of the Commonwealth.

A member of IGAF Worldwide since 1996 and currently Director of IGAF Latin America & Caribbean, Torres says he has benefited enormously from the international association. "For professional development and just meeting people - making contacts. It is also an excellent source of referrals. Over time people know you, they gain confidence in you. They know they can count on you." Torres attends meetings throughout the year – audit meetings, and meetings that focus on marketing or on different niche practices.

Torres says that SOX 404 has helped firms like TorresCPA Group enormously because a lot of Fortune 500 companies, firms with revenues of $1,000,000 to $50,000,000 moved to the second level of accounting firms because they can do the SEC work at a better rate and receive more personalized services.

The future continues to look good for accounting as a career, Torres says. "The experience is just excellent for someone who has spent eight or ten years in public accounting, whether they remain in public accounting or choose to go into internal accounting in a company." The 150-hour licensing requirement applies in Puerto Rico where the number of young people studying to become accountants is steady he says.

Torres plans to develop a marketing plan for TorresCPA next year. The first step will be to launch the plan in-house and get everyone involved. "It is very easy to market this firm," he says.

Other articles in this series:

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