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October 2012
It All Adds Up

     Trust and integrity and insight are three crucial qualities that are essential to the successful management of your money and your financial success. Add to that a set of skills that help you execute a precision strategy from careful planning based on real-life experience. Taken together, it is just the right mix to support your business and help you adjust to changing economic forces.

     When you choose your accounting firm, you want a firm that exhibits those qualities and displays those skills. But how do you know? One of the best ways to find out is to ask other clients.

     Dr. G. Adam Shapiro, a foot specialist and surgeon with Foot and Ankle Associates, will tell you, “Daniel Ratliff & Company has been a genuine partner in maintaining the financial health of my practice. Like good physicians, the team at Daniel Ratliff listens, cares and promptly responds to my needs. That allows me to focus less on business and more on what matters most…my patients.”

     Jacqueline Ford, co-owner and president of Great Food Services, Inc., tells you why they go above and beyond traditional accounting services: “We enjoy working with Daniel, Ratliff & Company because they have always taken a great interest in helping our business in any way they can, including bringing excellent resources to the table for all type of services, not just financial.”

     Daniel, Ratliff & Company provides business consulting, auditing, general accounting, and tax services. Its mission is to provide innovative solutions for financial and business success for its diverse client base.

     Since its founding by Debbie Daniel, John Ratliff and Terry Corriher 16 years ago, the firm has always striven to be much more than just accountants that file tax returns. And to this day, the company continues to thrive, even in this economy. It is due, in large part, to their current management team of Brian Huber, Matt Miller and Ann Clausen.

 

Booking the A-team

     Brian E. Huber, CPA, is president and leads the management team, but he’s also a team player. He gets to know every client and ensures that they are in good hands and that “top-drawer” services are being delivered directly to each one.

     Huber came to Daniel, Ratliff & Company with a passion for client service. After moving to the Charlotte area, he worked for Gleiberman, Spears, Shepherd, & Menaker, which merged with Grant Thornton in 2002. Huber preferred working with small- to medium-sized client firms, though, and when he discovered Daniel, Ratliff & Company, it was a perfect fit.

     He brought his client base to the firm and became a member of the ownership group in 2007. With more than 25 years of experience in public accounting, he was the perfect candidate to become the new president of the firm in October 2011. Huber also oversees Accounting and Business Services.

     “By coaching and partnering with our clients, they are better equipped to grow their businesses. And when clients grow, we grow,” says Huber.

     As a QuickBooks Pro, he assists clients with QuickBooks software setup and training. He also helps clients understand their financial statements in order to have a better understanding of their business activity. Many clients have profited from the application and implementation of financial planning software that Huber uses to show the effects of management decisions.

     When Huber isn’t working with clients, he can be found at CPCC where he educates the next generation of QuickBooks experts. He also serves as Treasurer of Temple Kol Tikvah of Lake Norman.

     Matt Miller, CPA, is vice president of finance and assurance aervices within the management team. Miller graduated from UNC Charlotte in 1993 and began working for the Charlotte office of Coopers & Lybrand, a national public accounting firm. He then moved to the large local Charlotte accounting firm, Hunter & Hunter, P.A., before joining Daniel, Ratliff & Company in 2001 to focus on smaller businesses.

     Miller became a member of the firm’s ownership group in July 2006 and is responsible for the firm’s financial management plus oversees all assurance and audit services. His personal involvement with client audits allows him to develop an in-depth knowledge of client operations and forms close working relationships. This knowledge is very valuable when helping clients meet their goals.

     When Miller is not working with clients or attending to firm administrative duties, he can be found at Camp Care, a nonprofit organization that provides summer camp experience and other activities for children with cancer. Miller serves as the treasurer on the non-profit organization’s executive board.

     Ann Clausen, CPA, is vice president of marketing and tax services. Clausen began her career managing the accounting functions of two department stores. After a few years, Clausen migrated to academia to teach college accounting courses. In 1988, she relocated to the Washington, D.C. area and worked in the tax software business which provided the opportunity to work closely with the Internal Revenue Service.

     In 1990, Clausen formed her own public accounting practice providing tax and accounting services for her entrepreneurial clients. Ten years later, Clausen moved her practice to North Carolina and joined Daniel, Ratliff & Company in 2009. She manages the firm’s tax department which prepares individual, partnership, LLC, corporation, non-profit, and fiduciary tax returns.

     When Clausen is not managing the tax department, she can be found networking with various groups in Charlotte. In addition, she serves on the board of Midweek Business Connections and the NCACPA local board.

 

A Passionate Culture

     The founders of Daniel, Ratliff & Company knew small businesses would benefit more substantially from an accounting firm that did more than just prepare tax returns. The Charlotte market provided opportunities to support their motivation and growth in this direction. They wanted to be more than just accountants; they wanted to be business partners to their clients.

     Each and every day, Huber, Miller and Clausen and their staff make conscious efforts to further those partnerships. Huber explains, “Just the other weekend a client emailed me with an urgent question. Instead of waiting to reply on Monday morning and knowing an answer would provide peace of mind, I called the client. That saved our client the anxiety of waiting and we addressed their issue immediately. But more than that, it showed that we are there when they need us the most.”

     As confirmation, Craig Cass, of Cassco, Inc. adds another endorsement, “I have worked with Daniel, Ratliff & Company since their inception in 1996. They have been integral in the growth and success of our business, and have been with us every step of the way!”

     The trio believes in building their business with all employees being involved. A good example is heard on the telephone. Brandon Ratliff’s voice is the first one to greet current and potential clients. He makes it a point to go above and beyond being friendly.

     “In fact,” Clausen commented, “we recently acquired a new client because of the manner that Brandon exhibited on the phone. The client said, ‘It’s not often you hear a young man answering the phone, but if he’s any indication of how we’re going to be treated as a client, we’re all in.’”

     All the employees are very dedicated and experienced. Many have been with the firm in excess of seven years and several have over 20 years of accounting and tax experience. From the administrative staff to the CPAs, the common theme is providing the best client service possible.

     Every employee is committed to providing exceptional accounting and consulting services, with integrity and mutual respect for each other. We are determined to be the trusted advisor and champion to the clients we serve. We even provide a customer bill of rights.

     Huber talks about one of the firm’s success stories: “One of our clients had accumulated a large amount of unpaid payroll taxes and was suffering monthly net losses. We worked with the IRS to set up an installment arrangement to satisfy the tax liability. But we went further and helped the client better manage their business on a daily basis. Now the client is making a profit, planning to stay in business, and consequently 150 jobs have been saved.”

     Recognizing the need to balance work and family, Daniel Ratliff & Company provides a very liberal vacation policy and even provides an extra eight days of leave during the summer.

     “Family is very important to us,” explains Clausen. “And we want our employees to spend time with their families and relax.” This balance makes the firm a better place to work.

     Daniel, Ratliff & Company also believes in giving back to their community and especially to those who need it the most. Each November, the employees volunteer to help decorate a local senior citizen community for Christmas.

     “The residents are always very appreciative. This experience enriches our lives and makes us feel more like a family,” remarks Miller. “We are also involved in gathering food for local non-profit groups, participating in golf tournaments to raise money for charities, and volunteering for non-profit leadership roles.”

     “We strive to place the important priorities in life first,” adds Huber. “Being involved in the community is one way that we build long lasting relationships. Creating a great work environment and paying attention to the needs of our staff help us deliver superior customer service to our clients.”

 

Growing the Right Way

     While the past three years have been challenging to many local businesses, Daniel, Ratliff & Company continues to thrive, acquiring new clients and discovering more ways to be helpful to our continuing clients.

     “We are especially proud when our clients grow as a result of our advice and hands-on assistance. We make a point to show our clients every advantage they can use to lower costs, increase revenues and save money. When they do well, they have even more need of our services,” boasts Miller.

     Clausen elaborates on this point: “We have helped many of our clients reduce their taxes through cost segregation studies. We work with experts who perform these studies for our clients. The studies are fairly inexpensive and yet can save our clients thousands of tax dollars. In fact, one client saved $75,000 in taxes as a result of one study.

     “We expect to grow and expand this practice. Growth ensures the continued health of the firm,” Clausen continues. “We work to keep great people. They are our most valuable asset.”

     Miller adds, “We want bright young professionals who want to be a part of this company and make a career with us. Down the line, we expect to offer ownership opportunities to those who have proven their management and technical skills ensuring the continued success of the firm.”

 

Adding Value

     With a combined staff experience totaling more than 100 years, Daniel, Ratliff & Company has a proven track record helping clients grow their businesses the right way. They keep their commitment to do more than just prepare financial statements and tax returns—their services are strategy-based and designed to add value.

     “At this level, you can work with the owners and decision-makers and make a significant difference in their business,” attests Miller. And Clausen adds, “Our clients are looking for advice and strategies. We will do all we can to be helpful to them.”

     Dr. William Mitchell, M.D., of Southern Oncology Specialists, comments, “Daniel Ratliff & Company have been an integral part of my life for over 10 years. As a physician, I rely upon them for everything financial for my practice. Whether it’s taxes, profit-sharing, mergers and acquisitions, or buying office equipment, they have been there every step of the way. I highly recommend them for all your accounting, financial and tax needs.”

     Daniel, Ratliff & Company is passionate about being one of the best accounting firms in the Charlotte region. The named founders share the pride in the business they started with the succeeding team now in place. The firm’s success is mirrored in the success of their clients. And the firm is rewarded by adding value to those they are privileged to serve.

 

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