Spotlight on Richard Oppenheim

Richard Oppenheim

AccountingWEB Profile

Richard Oppenheim, CPA
Founder and CEO
SysTrust Services

Richard Oppenheim is a Renaissance Man who Continues to Pursue Challenges

The Renaissance age was filled with intriguing geniuses who invented, painted, sculpted, achieved success, resurrected themselves from failure, and challenged the world around them. They were yesteryear’s version of the multi-tasker.

Fast-forward almost six centuries and you’ll find Richard Oppenheim, who in some circles would be labeled as a modern-day Renaissance man. He’s a CPA. He’s been a system’s technician, chief operating officer, and advisor and counselor to countless CEOs. He’s even taught at the NYU Graduate School of Business.

And that’s just for starters.

Today, as co-founder and CEO of SysTrust Services, he manages one of the most high-profile initiatives associated with the American Institute of CPAs—namely SysTrust™. The company began operating last May as a provider of products for the assessment, verification and certification of a computer data center’s operational reliability.

In short, this is one of the more popular assurance areas in AICPA’s portfolio of consulting services. It was developed in conjunction with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, and is designed to provide confidence for management, customers and business partners who have systems that support a business. A typical SysTrust audit assesses whether a system is reliable when measured against its availability, security, integrity and maintainability.

“I look at SysTrust as more than just one of the assurance services,” he says. “Of course it’s intended to help assess a number of variables, but also is a wonderful means for accounting firms to increase their own bottom line by providing this service. If a firm developed a tool to implement SysTrust certifications on their own, it would cost them well in excess of $150,000.”

His role as head of SysTrust Services is one Oppenheim has been training for his whole life—but it is really not so different from the service businesses he has worked in for more than 35 years. With an accounting degree from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and post-graduate work at NYU, he spent a short two years in the mid-60s with KPMG Peat Marwick. In 1966, he left the large firm environment in favor of something smaller, more “hands-on,” according to Oppenheim. It was a mid-size firm in New York City that had just under 100 staff. Fourteen years later in the early 80s, the firm grew to more than 1,000 staff with offices in nine U.S. cities and international affiliates in 52 countries. It was known as Spicer & Oppenheim.

Along the way, Oppenheim accomplished a great deal that focused on the early use of technology. For example, he created the first computer services department at the firm, and implemented all internal and client-related applications. After election to partnership, Oppenheim’s responsibilities included the national and international evolutionary use of computers and information systems.

His combined roles as director of Information Technology and partner-in-charge of Business Consulting prepared him to enter the consulting part of the firm's practice, where he performed evaluations, financial analysis and he developed specific software products to support the firm’s audit and tax practice, while working with a wide range of businesses on planning for growth.

As the firm ceased operations by merging with another firm in 1990, Oppenheim ventured out on his own with a consulting practice that included a wide range of clients—from computer-based education to service companies and accounting firms. Yearning for the open country and star-filled skies, he relocated to Denver in 1994 and joined Starkey International as chief operating officer. Starkey placed household managers and butlers, and Oppenheim was the architect and instructor for all Management Track courses for the company’s Household Management Program. He also created the software purchased by clients to manage large households.

As if that weren’t enough, over the last 20 years, he has reviewed a variety of computer technology products and has written for various trade and business publications. An adjunct professor at NYU’s Graduate School of Business, he also served as director of the school’s Management Decision Laboratory.

“Today, entrepreneurs have to surround themselves with people who will continue to challenge and support you on all fronts, such as I have at SysTrust Services with Jack Birnbach as COO,” Oppenheim says. “I want to continue to grow in any venture I take on, and am very proud to be associated with a key service component in today’s accounting environment. This business will certainly be challenging as CPAs and accountants continue to develop their skill set, especially in the open-ended world of technology.”

Oppenheim is living his dream, and complements his business goals by employing the service component he is so familiar with. Every day, he corresponds and counsels accountants and auditors who are seeking his company’s services. He has come full circle—as most Renaissance men do.

Oppenheim may be contacted at roppenheim@systrustservices.com.


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