Thames Kennedy Earns CPA Designation

Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck (RBG) team member Thames Kennedy has been approved for her license as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Tennessee. 

Kennedy joined RBG in 2017 as an audit intern. She currently serves as tax staff. In this capacity, she participates in a variety of tax assignments for firm clients. 

“Thames should be very proud of this fantastic achievement,” said John Griesbeck, CPA, managing partner of RBG. “Earning one’s CPA designation is a big deal, and one of the most important milestones in an accountant’s career. I am very impressed that Thames was able to achieve this while remaining fully invested in her work her at RBG.”

A graduate of Mississippi State University, Kennedy earned a Bachelor of Accountancy with a Minor in Finance in 2017 and a Master of Professional Accountancy in 2018. She is affiliated with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Tennessee Society of CPAs (TSCPA). Raised in Ridgeland, Mississippi, Kennedy currently lives in Memphis.

The Commercial Appeal Names RBG a Winner of the Memphis Top Workplaces 2019 Award

Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck, PLC has been awarded a 2019 Top Workplaces honor by The Commercial Appeal. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by research partner Energage, LLC (formerly WorkplaceDynamics), a leading provider of technology-based employee engagement tools. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.

“This recognition is a big deal, because it indicates so much about a business,” said Doug Claffey, CEO of Energage. “Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck has truly distinguished itself by putting its people first and providing a superlative work environment for their team members.”

“I consider it a great honor to be included, once again, on this list of distinguished organizations,” said John Griesbeck, CPA, Managing Partner of Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck, PLC. “The fact that we have fostered such a healthy workplace culture really shows when you look at the talent we have on our team, the low turnover rate we experience, and the fantastic results that we are able to achieve for our clients.”

About Energage, LLC 
Headquartered in Exton, Pa., Energage (formerly known as WorkplaceDynamics) is a leading provider of technology-based employee engagement tools that help leaders to unlock potential, inspire performance, and achieve amazing results within their organizations. The research partner behind the Top Workplaces program, Energage has surveyed more than 50,000 organizations representing well over 17 million employees in the United States.

New Memphis-Based Partner Joins RBG

The century-old, Memphis-founded accounting firm Reynolds, Bone & Griesbeck PLC has recently added a new tax partner, Chad Boyd. Boyd has been a public accounting presence in the Mid-South for over 21 years. He joined Arthur Andersen in 1997 upon completing his undergraduate and Master of Taxation degrees at Mississippi State University. He then moved to Memphis in 2001 with Arthur Andersen before joining Deloitte where he has been until joining RBG, most recently acting as Managing Director. 

“We believe that Chad’s passion for serving clients as well as his attention to supporting and developing staff will greatly benefit RBG now and in the future,” said managing partner John Griesbeck. “Chad has the ability, drive, and entrepreneurial spirit to help us continue to grow our client base and attract talented staff as we move into RBG’s second century, with specific sights on our 2025 goals.”  

Boyd is active in giving back to the community in Memphis, and is excited to be a part of a local firm. In addition to his work experiences, Boyd also serves as a Trustee for the Pink Palace Museum, and a member of the Advisory Council for the Mississippi State University Adkerson School of Accountancy. He and his wife Gina have two children and love calling Memphis home. 

“I am thrilled to join the RBG team. I have been aware of RBG for a number of years. Their reputation for integrity and longstanding presence in the Memphis business community drew me to this opportunity. I am very excited to partner with the talented RBG team and help continue to grow this company by supporting and serving our clients,” said Boyd. 

Prior to joining Reynolds, Bone, and Griesbeck, Boyd’s experiences at Deloitte and Arthur Andersen have afforded a wealth of experience working primarily with private companies, and their owners and families, in nearly all facets of taxation. Additionally, Boyd has led teams focused on tax compliance, tax planning, and consulting for a variety of domestic, multi-state, and international flow-through clients as well as corporate clients. Boyd has his CPA, Master of Taxation, and Bachelor of Professional Accountancy. 

John Griesbeck Transitions Out of Managing Partner Role

After months of deliberate planning, we’re excited to announce a few changes at RBG in the new year. John Griesbeck, CPA, will transition out of the role of managing partner at RBG effective January 1, 2020. Skeet Haag will be his successor.

John joined the firm in 1975 and has held the position of managing partner 15 years. Under his leadership, the firm experienced significant growth and success. He will remain a partner at the firm and is happy to have more time to focus on the success of his clients. 

Recently, John provided an interview to discuss the transition and his career.

Q: At the beginning of your career, what inspired you to choose accounting?
A: Accounting runs in my family; my grandfather, father, and three older brothers were all CPAs. During college, my finance and accounting courses lent knowledge to my career path. I also worked part-time at RBG, which gave me an opportunity to apply the knowledge I gained. It seemed natural to take advantage of the opportunity I had in public accounting.

Q: Looking back at your career, knowing what you know now, is there anything that you would do differently?
A: I would have changed some of my courses while I was in college. Knowing what I know now, I would have taken more marketing and management courses. Also, I would have read more about leadership and managing a professional services firm.

Q: What is the biggest change RBG went through while you were Managing Partner? 
A: I am proud to say that the biggest change has been the amount of women in the profession and in our firm. Women make up half of our employees, 25% of our partners, and many of our clients are owned or led by women. These trends will only increase in the future.

Q: What is the biggest challenge that RBG faces in the future?
A: I think the biggest challenge our firm faces in the future is continuing to retain the best and brightest professional staff. Many of the challenges our firm will face – automation/artificial intelligence, partner succession, increasing competition – cannot be met without great talent. That’s why people have always been our number one priority.

Q: What was your favorite part of being the firm’s managing partner?
A: I’ve always loved watching younger generations learn and grow into outstanding practitioners. As managing partner, I had a window into the entire firm and could observe team members develop throughout the firm. It is very satisfying to give these folks opportunities and see them step up to meet any challenge that comes along.

Q: How would you describe the legacy that you leave behind?
A: At RBG, we speak often of legacy – after all, we have been in business for more than 100 years. I hope that what I leave behind is an updated, yet similar, sense of legacy that our firm  has always lived by – serving clients to the best of our abilities, treating people the way any of us would want and expect to be treated, and giving back to the community that has supported us generation after generation. 

Q: What was the hardest part of being Managing Partner, over the years?
A: Managing people can be tricky. All are unique, unpredictable, and usually motivated by a variety of factors. (Did I just describe myself?) But our most important asset is people and we work hard every day to be a great place to work and serve clients.

Q: What advice do you have for the new Managing Partner, Skeet?
A: I’d like to remind Skeet to always LEAD:
Listen to all stakeholders – sometimes the best ideas come from unexpected sources.
Embrace change – there is no status quo.
Admit your mistakes – humble people are much easier to work with.
Demand more of yourself than anyone else.

John has always been a hard-working, determined individual. His leadership proved that when you apply yourself, you will be rewarded with success and growth. The firm is full of gratitude for all the things John accomplished during his tenure as Managing Partner. We look forward to the future with him as Partner.

Keys to Unlocking Success for Your Family Business

Keys to Unlocking Success for Your Family Business

This article discusses how hard it is to ensure that your family business survives to the next generation. With the help of these best practices like setting boundaries, dividing roles and responsibilities, and treating family members fairly, your business could be on its way to a healthy future.

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Practicing Gratitude: A Look Back at 2019

It may be hard to believe, but the end of the year is upon us. During this time, many of us might reflect on the year and tally up the good and the bad, the pros and the cons of the past 12 months. In a society that focuses on success and getting ahead, probably the most common thing to do is zero in on what you didn’t accomplish, or what went wrong. But science tells us that if you’re smart, you’ll look back with gratitude. And the best news is: it’s good for our health.

Gratitude Changes Your Brain – For the Better
When you give thanks for positive things in your life and show appreciation, it literally changes the structure of your brain, according to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center. It keeps the gray matter functioning and causes synchronized activation in multiple brain regions, lighting up parts of the brain’s reward pathways and the hypothalamus. It’s kind of like an anti-depressant: it boosts neurotransmitter serotonin and causes the brain stem to produce dopamine, a chemical that mediates pleasure in the brain. In short, thinking about what you’re grateful for is kind of like free therapy.

Make a List of Your Successes
So now that you know how gratitude works, make a list of what you’ve accomplished this year. It doesn’t have to be big and dramatic; for instance: you ate at home more often. You decided to recycle. You drank more water. However, if you got a promotion and raise, by all means write it down and feel good about it. Besides, there’s more that happens: when you’re feeling grateful, you generate higher levels of activity in your hypothalamus, the area which controls a large array of essential body functions, like eating, drinking and sleeping. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), this activity prompts you to exercise more, get better sleep and, best of all, decreases depression and bodily aches and pains. How’s that for some motivation to put pen to paper?

Keep a Journal for Next Year
As you can see, being grateful is beneficial, both mentally and physically. So why not keep a journal for the upcoming year? It doesn’t have to be fancy. Granted, a journal helps organize your thoughts and can be your go-to source should you start feeling down. But practicing gratitude can be as simple as jotting down your thoughts on a sticky note and posting it on your mirror. Another way to do this is to pick a gratitude buddy. When you think of something you’re thankful for, text or email a friend. Don’t worry about it sounding right, just do it! Chances are, it’ll not only make you feel better, it might brighten your friend’s day, too.

Just Look for Positive Things
According to Dr. Alex Korb in his book “Upward Spiral,” the simple act of seeking things to be grateful for has as much if not more benefit than the things you are actually grateful for. Korb says that the search “forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.” This area of the brain not only regulates blood pressure and heart rate, it’s also responsible for decision making and evaluation processes. Serotonin is good stuff: it’s known as the happy chemical. See how good this gratitude thing is?

So, in the coming year, if you start feeling blue and negative, here are some quick remedies:

1) Look in the mirror and name five things you like about yourself.

2) Write someone a thank you note.

3) When something bad happens, think of something good that’s happened.

4) Give someone a compliment. The act of giving is soul-nourishing: to give is to receive.

Here’s to looking back and feeling good, then moving forward with positive vibes!


What is Splinternet and Why You Should Care

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO, made a prediction in September 2018 that the internet will split in two – one part being led by China and the other by the United States. The reasoning behind this involves China’s active monitoring of all internet activities, as well as technological products and services from the country. Other reasons include a different leadership regime, controls and censorship.

Although it's just speculation, the splinternet phenomenon has been around since the 1990s. Also known as cyber-balkanization, the concept is slowly taking root as governments seek to fence off their internet to create national internets.

How Realistic is Splinternet?
The United States has maintained dominance over the internet since its inception and going public. But in the modern digital landscape, rules and regulations are expected to curb the global internet into smaller networks. The idea is being driven by nationalism as well as concerns surrounding digital colonization and privacy issues.

China is one country known to be taking steps to compartmentalize the internet through its Great Firewall. Other countries that have taken steps to control domestic access to the internet include Russia and Iran. Europe is also taking steps toward reducing U.S. dominance by increasing regulations that require data localization. They have facilitated this with the 2018 introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In the United States, there is a drive to increase internet fragmentation to reduce the domination of large companies. This is because of the need to increase personal data protection and reduce data control by large companies. With the world becoming more global, we continue to see cases of large companies like Facebook or Apple having more influence as well as centralized power.

Though a small fraction of the internet interactions, this provides a good example of the splintering. With such fragmentation of the internet increasing, it’s bound to have an effect on economic interests.

How a Split Internet Would Affect Businesses
Data has become a critical resource, from influencing purchasing decisions, behavior dynamics, health and other aspects. But with the changing internet landscape, businesses could be affected in one way or another. Businesses have had an easy time operating in a standardized web. But with the unity of the internet shattered, they would have to adjust their planning and metrics to fit into the new environment. For instance, due to China’s domestic internet control, it’s impossible for some companies in the United States to carry out business operations in China.

This situation presents a challenge for businesses – and especially those whose operations are purely internet based. Increased regulation means disruption of operations.

For small companies expanding to other countries, it would be difficult due to the overhead costs of compliance to various regional regulations. As a business, failing to comply with the laws of a different region would subject it to hefty fines.

Be Prepared
Whether this is going to be a reality or not, the fact is there are big changes happening on the internet. The days of an open internet are dwindling with different countries and companies erecting digital walls on the internet every other day.

Unless we have a new set of global rules that enhance openness and public interest, businesses and consumers will have to navigate complex laws and regulations that will not only affect the economy, but also disrupt seamless communication.

Since data today plays a big role in the digital economy, businesses can’t afford to ignore the possibility of a splinternet. As a business owner, you need to stay steps ahead as it would be a challenge connecting with your customers when caught up in the changes.

Businesses need to know how to follow consumers to new environments – and this could mean a bigger budget is required for development and testing different markets. Given that technological changes happen gradually, it’s advisable to keep tabs on tech trends and adjust accordingly. 

Best Practices in Evaluating a Business

Best Practices in Evaluating a Business

This article discusses how utilizing some best practices can go a long way when evaluating a business. Examining stock prices, assets, cash flow, and the surplus in debt, should be considered each and every time a business is valued. In addition, bringing in a professional can make it easier on you and ensure that the process is done correctly.

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How to Defer, Avoid Paying Capital Gains Tax on Stock Sales

The markets are hitting all-time highs, so if you are thinking of selling stocks now or in the near future, there is a good chance that you will have capital gains on the sale. If you’ve held the stocks for more than a year, then they will qualify for the more favorable long-term capital gains tax (instead of being taxed as ordinary income rates for short-term sales). But the total tax due can still be enough to warrant some tax planning. Luckily, the tax laws provide for several ways to defer or even completely avoid paying taxes on your securities sales.

1. Using Tax Losses
Utilizing losses is the least attractive of all the options in this article since you obviously had to lose money on one security in order to avoid paying taxes on another. The real play here is what is often referred to as tax-loss harvesting. This is where you purposely sell shares that are at a loss position in order to offset the gains on profitable sales and then redeploy this capital somewhere else. You’ll need to carefully weigh where to put the money from the sale of the shares sold at a loss as you can’t just buy the same stocks back. This is considered a “wash sale” and invalidates the strategy.

2. The 10 Percent to 15 Percent Tax Bracket
For taxpayers in either the 10 percent or 12 percent income tax brackets, the long-term capital gains rate is 0 percent. The income caps for qualifying for the 12 percent income tax rate are $39,375 for single filers and $78,750 for joint filers in 2019 ($40,000 and $80,000, respectively in 2020). Also, keep in mind that the stock sales themselves add to this limit – so calculate carefully.

Aside from selling appreciated securities yourself, another way to take advantage of the 0 percent bracket is to gift the stock to someone else instead of selling the securities and then giving the cash. Beware, however, as trying to do this with your kids can disqualify the 0 percent treatment because the kiddie tax is triggered on gifted stock sold to children younger than 19 or under 24 if a full-time student.

3. Donate
Donating appreciated securities is where we start to get into the more beneficial strategies. This technique only makes sense if you were already planning to make charitable contributions. Say you are planning to donate $10,000 to an organization and are in the 25 percent tax bracket. In order to write a donation check for $10,000, you would have had to earn $13,333 in income to sell the same amount of stock in order to have $10,000 left after taxes to make a cash donation in that amount.

If you donate appreciated stock instead, you only need to donate securities valued at $10,000 and you get to deduct $10,000 as a charitable deduction. That avoids the capital gains tax completely. Plus, it generates a bigger tax deduction for the full market value of donated shares held more than one year – and it results in a larger donation.

4. Qualified Opportunity Zones
This is the newest and most complicated (as well as controversial) way to defer or avoid capital gains taxes. Opportunity Zones were created via the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to encourage investment in low-income and distressed communities. Qualified Opportunity Zones can defer or eliminate capital gains tax by utilizing three mechanisms through Opportunity Funds – the investment vehicle that invests in Opportunity Zones.

First, they offer a temporary deferral of taxes on previously earned capital gains if investors place existing assets into Opportunity Funds. These capital gains defer taxation until the end of 2026 or whenever the asset is disposed of – whichever is first.

Second, capital gains placed in Opportunity Funds for a minimum of five years receive a step-up in basis of 10 percent – and if held for at least seven years, 15 percent.

Third, they offer an opportunity to permanently avoid taxation on new capital gains. If the opportunity fund is held for at least 10 years, the investor will pay no tax on capital gains earned through the Opportunity Fund.

Again, the caveat here is that the details of Opportunity Zone investments can be extremely complicated, so it’s best not to attempt this one on your own. Consult with your tax advisor.

5. Die with Appreciated Stock
Unfortunately, while probably the least popular method for readers, this is certainly the most effective. When a person passes away, the cost basis of their securities receives a step-up in basis to the fair market value to the date of their death. As an example, if you purchased Amazon stock for $50 per share and when you pass away it is worth $1,700 per share, your heir’s basis in the inherited stock is $1,700. This means if they sell it at $1,700, they pay no tax at all.

None of the above methods are loopholes or tax dodges; they are all completely legitimate. However, your ability to take advantage of these techniques will depend on your income level, personal goals and even your age. As a result, it’s best to consult with your tax advisor to see what makes sense for your personal situation.

Small Business Technology Trends to Watch For in 2020

Small Business Technology Trends to Watch For in 2020

This article discusses how technology is changing the way small businesses operate on a day to day basis. From working from home to social media marketing, these tech advancements are vital to staying up to date as your business grows. 

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