Beware: She's Not Your Father's CPA


The accountant's green eyeshade and armbands have been gone for a very long time. But if you still refer to your CPA as "the bookeeper" or "the auditor" you're showing your age. And you might even be a "sexist pig" if you refer to the male gender when talking about CPAs. Many things have changed in the CPA profession. But has the business community kept up with those changes?

The way you do business is constantly changing. Remember when most businesses didn't take credit cards or have fax machines? What about the advent of electronic document transfer (attaching data or a document file to your email)?

Yes, the way you do business would amaze your grandparents. Consider this: Your great and great-great grandparents may even have referred to it as magic, voo-doo or witchcraft.

Unnoticed by many business owners, the accounting profession has also kept up with the times. While the wrongdoings of a few very large CPA firms have grabbed the headlines in recent years, many other changes in the profession have not been discussed by the general news media.

For example, a certified public accountant can now also earn and hold designations such as the CFA (Certified Financial Advisor), the ABV, (Accredited Business Valuator), CVA (Certified Valuation Analyst), CFFA (Certified Fraud and Forensics Analyst) and a host of others.

What does this mean to the business community? It means that the CPA holding the additional certifications has additional training and expertise in those designated fields. The CPA is a "specialist" in those particular areas of practice.

Specialization has become an absolute necessity in order to provide competent advice and services to business owners needing such additional services.

Because business matters have become so much more complex, gone are the days when your CPA knew much of what your business needed to survive. Today, the CPA (general practitioner) without the additional certifications is most likely not a good source of information concerning business valuation, making investments, forensic accounting, fraud detection, mergers and acquisitions, and buying or selling a business.

"Buyer Beware" is a saying that should come to mind if you need advice about fraud detection, business valuation issues, or if you intend to buy or sell a business. A CPA general practitioner without the specialty designations is not going to be the best source for advice or information in those areas. It doesn't matter how great the CPA is when it comes to tax matters, accounting or auditing matters. They don't have the education or background necessary to adequately compete with the better trained and more competent CPA specialists.

Some CPA specialists are now offering only specialty professional services. Take the case of one CPA firm owner in Northwest Ohio. Grover Rutter was a CPA with a good clientele of tax and accounting clients. However, in 1993 he began to pursue specializations in the areas of business valuation and litigation support. By the end of the 1990's the demand on his time for business valuation, litigation support, business acquisition and disposition services became so great that it was difficult for him to do the right job for all of the different types of clients he served. So, he decided to continue providing only the specialty services.

He sold the accounting and tax practice to a regional accounting firm that provided traditional accounting and tax services. Mr. Rutter then started a new firm known as Grover Rutter Business Brokerage, Valuation & Consulting, LLC. As a CPA he is also a Certified Valuation Analyst, Accredited Business Valuator, Business Valuator Accredited in Litigation and a Certified Business Broker.

"I still get asked to do tax returns," Mr. Rutter says. "But taxation is a specialty that I don't practice any longer. Now if you want me to value or sell your business..."

Rutter says that this new specialty practice requires educating his potential clients. "We are going to see many Baby Boom-treneurs wanting to sell their businesses in the next few years. But many won't be ready. Most of those folks don't know what they don't know, so they just don't know what needs to be done" Rutter sighs.

In order to provide business owners with helpful information about the value of their businesses, he has written a book, Your Business IS Your Goldmine (Learn How to Get the MOST Out of Your Business). Business owners wanting to preview or purchase the book may do so online at

His firm also offers free information on the company website at

No, business isn't like it used to be. Business professionals aren't what they used to be, either. There are new professional specialties and new sources of information about which business owners must be informed.

Contact Information:

Grover Rutter CPA/ABV, CVA, BVAL
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