Industry Specialties

EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLANS

The employee benefit plan industry is becoming increasingly complicated as regulators enhance reporting and disclosure requirements.  Many plan sponsors are unaware of their fiduciary duties to the plan participants and potentially risk sizable penalties in regard to those failures.  One of the most prevalent findings of our audits are plan sponsors' failure to remit employee contributions on a timely basis.  The Department of Labor dictates that an employer must transmit employee contributions as soon as possible, which usually translates into the period required for federal tax withholding deposits. The purpose of this rule is to protect the participants' funds from both abuse by the employer and from claims of the employer's creditors. As you can certainly imagine, a thorough and proper audit of an employee benefit plan entails much more than an audit of the financial statement.  It involves an audit of participant data, which is the foundation of the plan, as well as testing the plan and plan sponsor's compliance with governing documents and government regulations.

We understand the unique reporting requirements and the audit risks associated with these entities. Our firm has audit experience in both full-scope and limited-scope audits of defined contribution plans, defined benefit plans, as well as health and welfare plans.  We have exposure to a broad range of plan designs and operational arrangements. We also have extensive experience in the highly complex, multi-employer plans as well as single employer plans.

Our firm has been performing employee benefit plan audits for over 15 years.  Our risk-based approach is designed to efficiently and effectively meet regulatory requirements for a price that is affordable.  Our commitment does not end with the audit report. We will alert you as to changes in industry reporting requirements, risks and failures within the design and operation of internal controls, as well as advice concerning your fiduciary responsibilities.

HCF&L is a member of the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center. Membership in the Center requires that audit team members who are engaged in employee benefit plan audits acquire annual, continuing-education in the industry.

Effective January 1, 2009, many Section 403b plans will require an audited financial statement.  This change in the reporting standards will pose many challenges for non-profit organizations despite the transition relief provided by the Department of Labor.  Through our extensive experience with nonprofit organizations and 401(k) plans, HCF&L is excited about working with this very challenging but rewarding market.  

 

NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS

A mission is a vision, but it needs good business practices in order to be successful.

HCF&L has extensive experience in attest and non-attest services related to religious organizations, schools, and public service organizations within the Baltimore/Washington/Philadelphia areas. 

Non-profit organizations are governed by unique reporting and disclosure requirements such as those related to contributions and classifications of net assets.  We help our clients understand the differences between agency and contribution transactions, how to identify them, and how they should be reported.  We understand the different contractual arrangements surrounding gifts and how those arrangements affect the presentation and disclosure in the financial statements.

We also understand that a non-profit must maintain a for-profit frame of mind in order to be viable.  Our goal is to work with our non-profit clients through the identification of not only deficiencies in internal control design and operation, but in areas of what we consider business advice.

 

HUD AND A-133 AUDITS

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsors a broad range of programs designed to revitalize urban neighborhoods, stimulate housing construction, encourage home ownership opportunities, and provide decent, safe, and affordable housing. The programs are funded through various forms of federal financial assistance, including entitlements, grants, direct loans and advances, subsidies, risk-sharing programs, and mortgage insurance.

HCF&L has experience with many of these programs and the compliance issues that accompany participation with these HUD sponsored programs.  HUD requires very specific financial reporting and, in many instances, electronic submission (FASS) of the financial reporting.  Our team is knowledgeable in both the compliance considerations and the financial reporting process.  We will assist you to meet HUD’s stringent reporting deadlines and keep you up to date with the latest information affecting this industry.

Single audits apply to recipients that expend specified amounts of federal awards as outlined by OMB Circular A-133. The primary objectives of single audits are to establish uniform audit requirements for entities expending specified amounts of federal awards and to reduce the number of individual program audits, thereby increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the audits of federal funds.

Most federal programs are catalogued and have specific compliance programs that accompany them.  HCF&L is prepared to 1) determine if a single audit is required, which is not always clear, due to pass thru monies from state programs, etc.; 2) determine which compliance programs are applicable; and 3) determine that all financial reporting requirements are achieved (including submission of data collection form).

We would be pleased to assist you through these highly regulated audits.

 

CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY  

Not only is the construction industry one of the largest segments of the American economy, it is also one of the more complex industries from an accounting perspective.  Job cost accumulation, estimates involving the percentage of completion, sophistication of accounting software (for example in tracking costs associated with change orders), as well as nuances such as accounting for costs in cost-plus contract arrangements, cost adjustments due to back charges, pre-contract  costs, retainers, and unused materials require an accounting firm well versed in the standards and the practical applications.  HCF&L has substantial experience with a variety of construction contractors and has performed both audit and review services for our clients.  

When accumulating construction costs, the major elements that the contracting entity should consider prior to the audit or review are:

  • Does the cost allocation methods result in a high degree of comparability between actual costs and estimated costs? 
  • Does the operating margins and overhead percentages of my company compare with industry peers? 

Job costing is indeed the most critical component of a construction contract. It affects revenue recognition, cash flow, and profitability. Business owners must be able to track costs to appropriately determine profit margins, which affects both the job estimation and the billing process as well as critical business decisions.  Our accountants will help identify areas of control weaknesses; as well as opportunities for improving the efficiency and profitability of your business. 

 

BANKS/SAVINGS AND LOANS

Banks and savings institutions are unique institutions.  They are required to perform a delicate balancing act among liquidity, profitability, and leverage, while maintaining certain risk-based capital ratios.  Banks have a myriad of compliance and reporting requirements.  Issues of loan collateral and foreclosed asset valuation are critical issues affecting every financial institution.

There are also specialized accounting requirements.  For example, FASB ASC 320-10-25 (previously Statement of Financial Accounting Standards no. 115, Accounting For Investments in Certain Debt and Equity Securities) requires debt and equity investments to be categorized as either:  held-to-maturity, trading, or available-for-sale.  Depending upon the category, there are differences in asset presentation (either fair value or amortized cost), the reflection of changes in valuation (either through net income or other comprehensive income), as well as disclosures.   

Disclosure requirements are voluminous, for loans and investments, for details surrounding maturities on certificates of deposits and individual retirement accounts, and for risk-based ratios and capital requirements.

HCF&L, through its audit team experience, understands the complexities and risks associated with the banking industry.  We understand the extraordinary costs of compliance that are placed upon small banks.  Through the use of computer-assisted audit techniques, our procedures will be structured to provide assurances that risks are identified and approached in the most efficient and effective manner possible. 

 

BUSINESS  Valuation

HCF&L provides valuation and related services for various situations, such as, gift tax and succession planning, dissenting shareholder actions, divorce-facilitating settlements, business acquisitions/sales, and litigation support. Our staff of Certified Valuation Analysts provides clients with an enhanced level of service and responsiveness. The inclusion of valuation services has expanded the firm’s capacity to meet our clients’ financial, legal, business, family, and personal valuation needs.


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