Porter Keadle Moore is reaping benefits from presenting annual seminars on two hot topics: going private in the age of Sarbanes-Oxley, and the benefits from bankers' perspectives of S corporations. "Going Private, Staying Private" was put together in six weeks to address the large number of public company clients and prospects that had been inquiring about deregistering from the Securities and Exchange Commission to avoid the headaches of SOX compliance, according to the Atlanta-based firm's director of marketing, Laura Snyder. The half-day seminar drew 75 attendees, and was co-sponsored by PKM and a law firm. Topics included how to structure and execute such transactions; a valuation, funding and liquidity discussion with investment bankers; real-life anecdotes on community reaction; and tips on staying private. The second seminar, "New Rules Make S Corp a Better Bet for Banks," was the fourth annual forum on the topic of S corps. This year, the seminar drew some 90 attendees from across the country, and focused on the regulatory changes that make S corps a stronger structure for closely held businesses. The two-day event was co-sponsored by PKM, a law firm and a correspondent bank, and featured a panel of bank executives who discussed their conversion to S corporations, and outlined the new S corp basics, including regulatory changes, core financial benefits of S corp election, ways to structure a sale, shareholder issues and shareholder agreement, growing an S corp versus a C corp, employee stock ownership plans, compensation strategies, and raising capital. The goal is to draw between 65 and 150 clients, prospects and referral sources to each event, says Snyder. "Because we charge for these events and share the remaining expenses between the co-hosts, the cost for each seminar typically ranges from $750 to $6,500. In addition, we enhance our value to existing clients, and typically generate new business from one or two prospects that has ranged from $17,000 at one event to $64,000 at another." The invitation list is assembled from the client/prospect databases of the seminar hosts, and contains some 3,000 names. "Because a large portion of the target audience is registered with the SEC, the database information is available to the public," Snyder says. Snyder adds that these seminars "establish PKM as an expert on S corporation taxation and other hot accounting issues; disseminate details regarding tax law and accounting regulation changes to clients and prospects; demonstrate the cooperative working relationship between the seminar hosts; enhance the firm's partnership with seminar hosts, thus increasing referrals; generate new business; and provide an opportunity for CPE credit for bank attendees, firm presenters and firm attendees."

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