Response to a potential client
Regarding the training
We are perfectly happy to provide the training. However, it is very hard to find competent accountants or bookkeepers. We have found it works best to have your staff work hand in hand with us. You will find there are fewer irregularities that way. Somebody looking over their shoulder never hurts.
Describe your experience/expertise in working in the Oil/Gas industry. Please include any dealings with corporate taxes in your answer.
My oil & gas experience dates back to the seventies and the oil boom in the DJ basin. At that time I joined Arthur Andersen & Co., the biggest accounting firm in the world, until it ran into Enron and went under. But when I was there they were the biggest and best in the world. Also they were prominent in the Oil and Gas industry with many notable clients, including regional companies King Resources, Colorado Interstate Gas, Mountain States Oil Tools, Inc. and other luminaries of that time. Today I still have clients throughout Colorado and other oil & gas producing states including North Dakota and Texas. Most of my clients today are service companies. Some of them do very large volumes. Immediately before starting my practice, I was also CFO for Energy Minerals, a publically traded company with many Wyoming properties and a drilling unit as well.
Our lead tax person grew up in the oil patch. Her father has had a significant position with Williams for a number of years. She herself did work for a number of oil and gas based companies
Regarding tax …
We have a national reputation in income tax strategy. We make no bones about saying that 99% of closely held companies pay more tax than the law requires. The first thing we did with a large new oil and gas based client was to amend previous tax returns for a $100,000 refund. On the basis of that reputation we have built this firm from a small local firm to a national firm with clients in 46 or 47 states. We have done taxes for all of our oil and gas based clients for my entire career. When it comes to income tax, we don’t believe any firm in the country provides more effective guidance or tax work.
We are perfectly competent to serve your needs.
What are your capabilities as far as Corporate Review? Describe your experience and timetable for completing a review.
There are three levels of public financial statements. Audit, Review and Compilation. In my background I started doing audits for Fortune 500 companies and progressed eventually to doing Reviews and Compilations. A review is a service “in-between” audits and compilation. It is basically a follow the numbers kind of thing. But we have the experience and the competence and we will deliver a sound product timely.
Regarding timing, reviews take more time than a compilation, but we don’t see any reason for it not to be done promptly. We have an entire firm here and we are a little over-staffed so we have the staff available to assign to new projects. We actually expect to pick up new clients every year and want to be able to deliver the goods promptly. Which we will do with you.
Do you have any experience in family succession planning and estate planning? Please describe.
If anyone has experience doing tax work for businesses, he also has experience in family succession. However, that doesn’t mean he knows what he’s doing or that he can do it effectively. To give you an idea of our competence I will describe something we just experienced. We have a large client in the oil/gas field that wanted to take advantage of the low gift tax rates in place until this year to move a large part of their business to their children. We convened a meeting of the largest law firm in the city, a specialist in Vail and several other people. Everyone was tasked with preparing the gift to AVOID tax. The attorneys were running the show. When we got the final product back at the end of the year, it didn’t look right to me. The attorneys said it was OK, but I kept up the issue until the Vail attorney finally admitted I was right, They had failed to do what they were hired to do. But after the first of the year, the door had closed, costing the client millions in eventual estate tax . You are right to tread cautiously in this area because large sums are at stake.
Please provide a realistic description of your availability. How often are you in your office? How quickly do you return calls? How long will it take to respond to our questions?
Forgive me for laughing. My first response was … who on earth have you been working with? But one of my staff who has worked on both sides in the past told me as she walked out a few minutes ago, we are one of the best offices in the city for getting back to our clients. I always thought this kind of thing was limited to people working out of their garage.
This is what you can expect. If we’re in the office, we will take your call and answer your questions. If we think research or discussion is necessary we will tell you when we will get back to you. We will get back to you when we tell you we will, generally the same day. If it’s important, we will do the work and get back to you quickly. We don’t ever want to be the weak link that delays everything on your end. If we’re busy when you call, we return calls when we become available.
You will also have a relationship with more than one person at our firm with whom you have confidence and are comfortable. If the first person is not available, the second person generally will be. I personally am in the office every day with very few exceptions, even on the weekends. I travel very little. But even if I’m gone, my staff is here and they are responsive and competent.
Our entire firm is oriented toward client service. You don’t build a national practice from Grand Junction, CO without exceptional client service.
Describe your experience/expertise in 401(k) accounts and personal tax filings (for the families of the two principles in the corporation).
We have as much experience with these things as any other firm. But this is not a specialty for us. If you are doing this as an employee benefit, that makes a lot of sense. If you’re doing this for the owners, we think you’re shooting blanks. And wasting your money. Somebody has told you that a simple timing difference that takes away long term capital gains treatment is a good way to save money. We would like to talk to you about this and give you our thoughts. Then we’ll do what you want to do.
As far as personal tax of the ownership group, that’s the most important thing we do. Publically held companies don’t care about taxes; all they care about is Earnings Per Share. But small companies care a lot because that money comes out of their pocket. That’s what floats the boat. Everything we do is oriented toward saving you money and adding to the amount of money that sticks to the walls. We even say we will save you more money than we cost you. A large part of that comes from our attention to your personal taxes.
Do you typically work on an hourly rate or retainage? Describe how payment would be set up with our company. Please give an estimated cost.
We charge hourly rates from $100 an hour up to $500 an hour. Most of your work will be between that somewhere. We do ask for a retainer that is less than the minimum on tax returns. The top rates are seldom encountered.
You can click here to look at our fees on our web site. http://www.elliscpafirm.com/pricing.htm
Of course your company would probably be too complicated for our minimums. So far, twenty some thousand was the most we have charged for a tax return. One current client paid $50,000 the year before they came to us. I cannot imagine that. We do progress billing frequently and stand on our heads to keep our clients in the loop. We will always give you an update if and when we think it could get expensive.
But until I know more about your company and what you want us to do, I really can’t provide a reliable estimate. I can tell you, we’re in this for the long haul and we’re not interested in abusing our clients. Never-the-less, what we do is expensive. The talent we employ is very capable and very expensive. There are no bargains when it comes to quality people. We pay our people as much as we think we can afford. And the quality of our services reflects that.