Accountant Advocate

Accountants are generally viewed as number crunchers who turn out tax returns. But Irving Rosenthal says accountants can and should be much more than tax preparers for growing businesses.

“I think the function of an accounting firm for growing small businesses is to act as much as a business counselor as it is to take care of finances,” says Rosenthal, whose counseling attitude has landed him this year’s SBA Accountant Advocate Award.

Because they often can’t afford to have such professionals on their staffs, entrepreneurs should look for those qualities in an accountant, he adds.

Growing small businesses often don’t possess the in-house expertise that accountants can offer. Unfortunately, says Rosenthal, many business owners hire accountants to do their taxes and don’t avail themselves of the advice their accountant can offer, presumably because they don’t think it’s worth the additional expense. He says that’s a mistake.

“They should look for the advisory side rather than just the bean counting,” says Rosenthal.

That expertise can range from knowing where to go for financing to structuring life insurance or key man protection.

“We in the accounting profession have lots of experience and exposure to many situations in the business world,” he says.

Rosenthal founded Alpern Rosenthal & Co. with Edwin Alpern in 1961. The firm, with a staff of more than 170, is one of the largest regional accounting firms in western Pennsylvania. These days, he spends much of his time working with the clients of ARC Capital LLC, the firm’s mergers and acquisitions group. He offers clients a wide range of business consulting services related to mergers and acquisitions, business valuations, conventional and venture capital financing and general business consulting.