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How Peer Review Strengthened Our Firm

Peer reviewOur firm, Gentile Pismeny & Brengel, LLP, headquartered in Great Neck, N.Y., has undergone eight peer reviews since 1991. These reviews have consistently proven to be highly beneficial, providing us with new insights into how we can strengthen our firm, and in turn, the profession. In fact, we see such value in the process that we’ve recently decided to expand our array of services to include peer review.

Wondering what peer review can do for your firm?  Read on to discover why we feel so strongly about it.

Unexpected Benefits

Successful firms typically have a strong grasp on who they are and where they are going. Yet even the best firms can benefit from the valuable feedback provided by their peer reviewer – an external resource who views their A&A practice from a unique vantage point.  The reviewer’s personal knowledge and practical experience at both his own and other reviewed firms can lead to suggestions for improvement that might be outside the scope of the review.  These suggestions may result in increases in customer satisfaction and even in revenue.

Consider this example from our peer review in 2009: We had been running a new software program for about 18 months. Although we evaluated multiple products in our purchase decision, the new software was not as robust or straightforward as we had hoped.  Yet, we weren’t sure we should make a change. During our peer review, our reviewer indicated that he, too, found weaknesses in the program.  His feedback confirmed our concerns and motivated us to switch to a different software program that better suits our needs.

 

Peer Review’s Positive Impact on Firms

Here are just a few examples of ways your peer reviewer could serve as a resource or provide suggestions for improvements in areas you might not have considered:

  • Your peer reviewer can serve as a resource for consultations if you are entering a new service industry.
  • If your firm has issues in a particular industry, such as employee benefit plan audits, your peer reviewer can provide your firm with industry specific training.
  • Your peer reviewer can suggest audit efficiencies.

If your firm requires significant assistance which would impair a peer reviewer’s independence (for example, extensive consultations such that the reviewer would be an integral part of your firm’s consultation process), your peer reviewer may be able to recommend another firm to assist your firm.

 

Learning More by Becoming a Peer Reviewer

Not everyone can be a peer reviewer. You have to meet certain qualifications before you can apply and then you must complete additional training.  Over the years, our firm has acquired expertise in a number of specialized industries, including single audits and employee benefit plan audits, and has been available to peer reviewers who require this specialized industry expertise. This role also allows us to gain experience in how to conduct our own peer reviews.

Are you interested in becoming a peer reviewer? Learn more by visiting the AICPA Peer Review Interest Area and watching this video of seasoned peer reviewer, Michael Brand, CPA, discuss peer review, how he benefits as a reviewer and how reviews benefit his firm.

 

Is your firm scheduled for peer review in the near future? The Private Company Practice Section Peer Review & Quality Control Document Guidance webpage can help you prepare for peer review. 

What was your experience with having a peer review? Did your firm make beneficial changes as a result?

Kyle Brengel, CPA, Partner, and Joanne Calabig, CPA, CGMA, CITP, Manager, Gentile, Pismeny & Brengel.

Peer review image via Shutterstock.

Edited: March 5, 2013

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