'Friendly Competitors' Merge To Form New Boutique CPA Firm
Two local companies whose principles all trained at several of the nation’s most prestigious accounting firms — and who always described themselves as “friendly competitors” — recently merged to form a new and expanded boutique enterprise that local individuals, businesses, and nonprofits can really count on.
The merger between Newtown’s Nanavaty, Nanavaty & Davenport, LLP (NN&D), and the former Danbury firm Studley, White and Associates, (SWA) PC launched their new brand January 1. The new company, Nanavaty, Davenport, Studley & White, LLP (NDS&W) will now be based at 123 South Main Street, Suite 140 — in the Highland Plaza.
Founded in 1991, NN&D provides audit, tax planning and preparation, accounting, and business consulting services to a variety of industries and business sectors.
According to Glenn Nanavaty, their Newtown firm has built a reputation serving the needs of its clients with a professional, proactive, practical, and cost-effective approach. NN&D was able to retain its three partners, Charles Nanavaty, Glenn Nanavaty and Robert Davenport, as well as four professional and one administrative staff as part of the merger.
Similarly, he said SWA and its partners Donald Studley and Brian White had been providing audit, tax planning and preparation, accounting, and business consulting services to a variety of industries and business sectors in the Danbury area since 1984 — and were recognized corporate contributors in the greater Danbury area for more than 35 years.
According to a letter released to The Newtown Bee that went out to the two firms’ clients late last year, the merger completes a strategy of expanding and strengthening their collective market presence by expanding the capabilities, resources, and experience of both firms.
“We believe that our combined firms strengthens [and] broadens the scope of services we can provide to all clients of NDS&W, without any reduction to the quality of those services,” the letter stated.
‘An Excellent Fit’
Mr Studley described the idea that was first pitched about a year-and-a-half ago as “an excellent fit.”
“Their practice very much meshes with our — we’re very similar,” he said. “They do quite a bit of individual and small business taxation, and quite a bit of not-for-profit auditing. As a matter of fact, our businesses are practically mirror images of each another.”
Mr Studley said the merger in one way brings a relationship between himself and Glenn Nanavaty full circle.
“When Glenn was in accounting school, he was an intern in our office,” Mr Studley said.
“I think I was there about two years during my junior and senior years, and then worked there for another six months before I took my CPA exam just after Brian White joined Don,” Glenn Nanavaty said. “And we always knew they did very similar work as we did — I guess you could call them ‘friendly competitors.’ They would even refer business to me over the years, and we all were involved at one point or another in the Newtown Scholarship Association.”
One of the biggest impressions Glenn Nanavaty recalls from his early days interning for Mr Studley was observing how a full-service accounting firm was structured from a human resources standpoint.
“At the time he was partnered with another person, and it was a plus working for someone from one of the biggest national firms, Price Waterhouse,” he said.
In mid-2018, Mr Studley approached the Nanavaty brothers and Mr Davenport with the idea of merging as a precursor to his and Mr White’s eventual retirement.
“We thought it was a great idea — they had a similar culture, similar accounting styles, so it just sort of happened with Chuck [Nanavaty] and Bob [Davenport]’s enthusiastic support,” Glenn Nanavaty said.
Mr Davenport said he saw no downside to the merger pitch, and he already had a relationship with both of his future partners from common activities in Newtown.
“I’m on the board of the St Rose finance council, so I knew Don who was also on the board — and one of my sons is the same age as one of Brian’s sons, so we would often talk on the lacrosse field sidelines,” Mr Davenport said.
He said the merger complements both entities.
“It’s always good to have other peoples’ perspectives when you’re preparing tax returns, and how they interact with clients,” Mr Davenport added.
Charles Nanavaty said simply, “the merger made sense.”
“We may have a few more individual and corporate clients than they did, but not many. And they were also a full service accounting firm, which is rare for a company of their size,” he said.
“You really don’t see smaller firms like theirs doing auditing. And we all have the experience of working for much larger firms. So our theory is to bring big firm experience to smaller clients, who may have fewer zeros at the end of their fees, but they get the same big firm expertise.”
A Deeper Bench
Charles Nanavaty said the decidedly deeper bench will permit all the new firm’s clients virtually unlimited access to personnel, even if their primary representative is out sick or on vacation.
“We started years ago with the team approach, and now that the bench is much deeper, so clients have more resources to contact directly,” he added.
Mr White said when he and Mr Studley started talking about merging, there was really no other firm they wanted to approach.
“It gives us additional resources to get more work, deeper experience, and we’ve known these guys for years,” he said. “We all originally came from ‘Big 8’ accounting firm backgrounds, but we can offer those services for a much more reasonable price as a boutique firm here.”
Mr White said the two firms even had similar fee structures, although he said each client’s fees are based on their individual needs.
“We see the merger will help us attract more clients and grow the business tremendously,” he said, “and now that we are together, we can pull best practices from both sides of the equation to make things more efficient internally, and on behalf of our clients.”
Mr Studley closed saying that in this world of [Do-It-Yourselfers] and downloadable tax prep software, there is still plenty of room for the professionals at NDS&W to thrive.
“With all my experience, all I can say is nothing has ever gotten easier, and it gets more complicated every year — especially as the government tries to simplify things,” he said. “And CPAs are the only ones who can do required audits of nonprofits. And with the steady growth in that sector, it’s becoming a growth business for relatively small accounting firms.”
Nanavaty Davenport Studley White LLP office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm; and Saturday by appointment.