Cole, Evans & Peterson is a one-office local CPA firm involving about 70 people. The firm has enjoyed substantial growth, is one of the largest firms in Louisiana, and is one of the 500 largest CPA firms in the nation. However, the firm’s goal is not size but excellence. We believe that our firm enjoys an excellent reputation and that it is among the leading firms of the area.
Types of Service
The firm renders services in the areas of accounting and auditing, tax, bookkeeping and consulting. We do not operate in departments, which is to say that both partners and staff members have the opportunity to continuously work in a variety of service areas. Over time, with guidance from the firm, our professionals typically develop expertise in areas of special interest and competence (by industry and subject). Our firm then is comprised of practitioners that have a wide variety of experience and practical knowledge among which many also possess particular expertise in an area or areas. Although this structure can be challenging at times we believe it provides our clients with excellence and our professionals with rewarding careers
Accounting and Auditing: In addition to compilation, review and audit of historical financial statements, we perform engagements for "Agreed-Upon Procedures," Forecasts and Projections and other Attestation areas.
Taxes: Our areas of involvement in taxes include, in addition to income tax planning and income tax return preparation, planning and preparation work for estate and gift taxes, payroll taxes and property taxes for all types of entities and for many varied industries. Among our areas of concentration are real estate, oil and gas, farming, health care, retailing, construction, and investments.
Bookkeeping: Bookkeeping work is not performed on a long-term basis by graduate accountants, but beginning graduates (who in their career will supervise recordkeeping systems) are assigned bookkeeping duties. We do this to familiarize them with the recordkeeping problems of businesses. Long‑term bookkeeping is performed by para‑professionals.
Consulting Services: Engagements in this area often grow out of work in other areas and include assistance with the design and monitoring of accounting systems and controls, development of detailed office systems and procedures, assistance in recruiting accounting and bookkeeping personnel, analysis of alternative investment decisions, analysis of purchase or sale of a business, personal financial planning and design, installation of computer systems, and operation of employee compensation and benefit plans. We are also active in providing litigation support services to attorneys.
The firm services entities ranging from those with annual revenues of nearly $1 billion and more than 5,000 employees to one‑person organizations with annual revenues of less than $100,000. Included among our clients are individuals, trusts, retailers, real estate lessors and developers, construction contractors, oil and gas companies, health care providers, manufacturers, not-for-profit organizations, etc.,--all sorts of groups and organizations in many different industries and with many different concerns. Generally speaking, our clients are local (travel is almost nonexistent). One of the most satisfying aspects of a career in local‑firm public accounting is that the individual accountant serving the organization has personal identity and has the ability to influence the success of the client organization. It is possible for a young accountant to have a significant impact on the well‑being of a client. This is a source of satisfaction to most local‑firm CPAs.
The primary objective of the firm is to furnish our clients with the best professional service available and thus to insure our people of satisfying careers. We strive continuously for excellence of performance. We conscientiously adhere to professional standards and work to merit the respect of our clients, our community, and our colleagues.
We believe that the characteristics necessary for success in public accounting are a sincere desire to excel (hard‑worker) along with an adequate basic education and intellect. We have found that academic success correlates very well with success in our firm. The work expected of a person in public accounting is difficult and sometimes tedious and the hours worked are, during part of the year, long. Those with a strong desire to excel and an attraction to the variety and challenge of public accounting are good candidates for a rewarding and successful career.
Professional Conduct (Ethics)
All of the firm's CPAs are members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants. The firm is a member of the Private Companies Practice Section of the AICPA. The firm's practice is conducted in compliance with the rules of professional conduct of these organizations and of the various state and federal agencies before which the firm practices.
Quality of Work
In keeping with our basic philosophy, we also emphasize the requirement for the highest quality of work possible. Every person is expected to perform every task in an intelligent and creditable manner. No assignment accepted is ever considered unimportant or unworthy of our best efforts. The responsibility of all professionals is to carry out the work as expeditiously as possible so that the cost to the client will be kept reasonable and the value of the service maximized.
Training and Development
The beginning professional is assigned to work in a variety of areas. On‑the‑job training is accomplished through close supervision and review by experienced staff members and partners.
The firm requires continuing professional education (CPE) for all levels of staff and partners. All professionals attend at least 40 hours of CPE courses each year. Beginning staff members usually complete more hours. Our major sources of courses and seminars are those developed and presented within the firm and those offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants. The firm usually provides 40 to 50 hours of formal in-firm CPE each year and provides externally presented courses for the professional staff as a supplement to the training program.
The firm encourages self-development activities and distributes material on current developments in accounting, auditing, and tax to all personnel. We maintain a wide range of technical resources, both in our library and through on-line subscriptions. The firm's staff manual contains firm policies and procedures on technical and administrative matters.
Professional staff are encouraged to sit for and pass the CPA exam at the earliest opportunity. We grant time off to take the exam and each successful candidate receives a $300 per month raise upon notice of successful completion of the exam. Additionally, bonus incentives are paid to candidates for prompt successful completion of the exam after starting employment. A $10,000 bonus is paid to candidates who complete all parts of the exam in the first testing window after becoming eligible. A $5,000 bonus is paid to candidates who complete all parts of the exam within one year of being eligible. A $2,500 bonus is paid to candidates who complete all parts of the exam within two years of becoming eligible. A $1,000 bonus is paid to candidates who complete all parts of the exam within three years of becoming eligible.
Career Progression and Compensation
All college graduates hired have been selected as potential partners. We do not hire career staff people or short-term help. Any beginning accountant who develops into a complete CPA and who is deeply committed to clients and the firm will become a partner. The opportunity of becoming a partner in the firm is directly (and only) related to the contribution that the CPA makes.
Beginning Compensation: Our initial job offers are made at a compensation level consistent with that offered by other leading firms. We intend to pay what is necessary to attract and retain the highest quality people.
Increases: Each beginning employee's compensation is reviewed after six months and thereafter at least yearly. Graduate accountants can expect to be compensated in ratio to their productivity. Professional employees are paid for overtime at a straight‑time rate. Promotions and advancement are based solely upon merit. It is ability, not seniority that determines increased compensation, responsibility, and promotions.
Employee Fringe Benefits
Hospitalization Insurance: Major Medical Hospitalization insurance is provided by the firm as a paid fringe benefit. Spousal and family coverage is available through a cafeteria plan. The premiums for spousal and family coverage are paid by salary reduction.
Disability Income Insurance: The firm provides, as a paid fringe benefit, disability income insurance that will, with social security, pay until age 65, sixty percent of the salary of any staff member permanently disabled.
Retirement Plan: The firm sponsors and contributes to a profit‑sharing plan. All employees are eligible to participate in the plan after two years of service with the firm. The Firm’s contribution to the employee’s account is immediately fully-vested and has averaged over 16 percent of W-2 compensation.
Dependent Care: Reimbursement for certain dependent care expenses is available by salary reduction through the cafeteria plan.
Sick Leave: Each employee is allowed five days (forty hours) sick leave each calendar year.
Vacations: Employees are entitled to one week of vacation after a year of employment and two weeks at the end of two years. Additional time off without pay is available for those desiring longer periods subject to rescheduling their work load.
Basic Work Week: The firm operates on a regular work week of 40 hours consisting of five days of eight hours each. Normal duty hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Holidays: The normal holidays observed are New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In addition to these normal holidays, we also take a holiday on the first work day following the end of the tax season.
CPA Exam: Time off with pay is granted to those sitting for the CPA exam.
The working environment at Cole, Evans & Peterson is conducive to the professional status of our staff members. We consider our staff to be associates of the firm and not merely employees.
Each staff member is assigned to an individual office. All CPAs are listed on our letterhead as well as the building directory and office foyer.
We strive to provide individual freedom for the professional so that maximum growth is achieved.
The firm invests heavily in technology and in that regard provides employees the tools they need. Electronic document management and other high-end software are employed as are multiple computer screens.
No discussion of a public accounting career would be complete without mentioning the busy season. We expect professional employees to do their part in making sure that the increased volume of work from January 1 through April 15 is completed timely. This requires overtime work, including Saturdays, for which employees are compensated.
Deciding Between Local Firms and National or Regional Firms
National and regional firms offer local and national travel, the possibility of transfer, life in large cities, and work with public companies. For some people, this might provide a more satisfactory career than that available with local firms such as ours.
However, there are some unique things about local firms that we believe may be important to many young professionals. Among those are the absence of extensive travel, the absence of transfers, the feeling of self‑determination and control of one's own career that goes with being a part of a smaller organization, and the feeling of impact and identity that comes from working with clients who know and respect your contribution to their businesses, careers, the quality of their lives, and their financial success. Most professionals enjoy the opportunity to be involved in a job from start to finish, which is an immediate opportunity for the local firm professional.
We are very happy with our careers in our firm. We hope that you will consider the opportunities available to you through it.