New Top Dog at BKD

For only the fourth time in the history of BKD, LLP, the stage is set for a leadership change. Managing Partner William E. Fingland Jr. will hand over the reins to Neal D. Spencer, partner in charge of BKD's Kentucky and Southern Indiana offices, following a transition period in early 2007. Fingland steps down as of June 1 and will remain as a BKD partner in the newly created role of "chair" at the firm's headquarters in Springfield, Mo.

BKD, founded in 1923, is ranked today among the 10 largest CPA and advisory firms in the country with $287 million in annual revenues and more than 1,600 personnel, including approximately 220 partners, in 27 offices within 11 states.

"The transition period starting in early 2007 will pave the way for a seamless top leadership change midyear," said Fingland, who has led the firm for the past 10 years. "This has been a work in progress-implementing the specifics of our succession plan actually began in 2005. We believe wholeheartedly Neal will lead the firm effectively in its next stages of evolution and strategic plans."

Fingland has spearheaded BKD's management and growth since elected as the firm's third managing partner in 1997, succeeding James O. Glauser. Major accomplishments during Fingland's tenure include the 2001 merger of Baird, Kurtz & Dobson and Olive LLP to create BKD, LLP; formalizing the firm's values of passion, respect, integrity, discipline and excellence as BKD PRIDE; expanding visibility and reach through strategic international liaisons; and diverse initiatives, including The BKD Experience: Unmatched Client Service, which is based on standards designed to create long-term satisfied clients. In his new role as chair starting mid-2007, he will devote much of his time to addressing issues within the accounting profession, strengthening international affiliations and furthering the growth and development of BKD.

Now based in Louisville, Ky., Spencer will relocate to Springfield in February and begin the leadership transition process in earnest. He was elected by BKD's partners and principals to the managing partner position in November 2006 while completing his 10th year as partner in charge of Kentucky offices in Bowling Green, Louisville and Owensboro and in Evansville, Ind. A member of BKD Health Care Group and active client service partner, Spencer has been with the firm for 21 years.

He has served on the Management Committee, BKD's policy-making arm, which he rejoins in June. A University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, alumnus, Spencer is a fellow in the Healthcare Financial Management Association, member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the University of Louisville Accounting Advisory Council. In 2003, he was recognized by the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas as Accountant of the Year in Public Accounting.

"The top leadership role presents so many opportunities and challenges-I'm excited by the prospect of taking our firm from where we are now, harnessing our potential and driving us forward," Spencer said. "Bill has done a tremendous job providing visionary leadership. It's a great privilege to be able to step into the role, especially given the positive values and culture Bill has done so much to enhance during his tenure."

As managing partner, Spencer will be responsible for the firm's overall management and leadership, overseeing its financial management and strategic planning as well as serving as the firm's spokesperson. He assumes leadership at a time when the national and international business environment grows increasingly complex, competitive and regulated, posing continuing challenges as well as opportunities for business personnel and leaders.

Fingland, as part of the succession plan, will be available to provide ongoing counsel to the new managing partner. Fingland began his public accounting career with BKD in 1976, was partner in charge of the firm's Tulsa, Okla., office for nine years and served as BKD's first national director of health care services. Through his experience, influence and guidance, BKD has positioned itself as a leading regional accounting firm, highly regarded in the industry.

Fingland replaced Glauser, who became BKD's second managing partner in 1986. Hearld Ambler was elected the first managing partner in 1976.

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