According to the Burlington FreePress, three senior managers at KPMG's Vermont office are leaving KPMG to start their own firm. They are leaving now because they believe they have a built-in set of clients since, per a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice, KPMG agreed to shut down its private client tax consulting practice nationwide by February 26.

It is estimated that KPMG provides tax services to between 300 and 400 customers in Vermont, and the new firm is planning to make follow-up telephone calls to those individuals attempting to pick them up as clients.

As was the case with Sarbanes-Oxley with services prohibited to be performed by a public company's auditor, business is spinning off from the Big Four and the ones positioned best are CPAs with prior connections or an existing, although informal, relationship with the Big Four. Those benefiting are moving quickly and filling the vacuum left by the Big Four's required departures from certain types of engagements.

Besides creating new competitors for existing accounting firms, departures, especially in the tax area but also in some consulting and specialized areas, are providing accounting firms with a new pool of talent. And they are exactly the type of staff that has been in short supply for the past few years at many firms: experienced staff that hits the ground running and are skilled in generating new business.

Word is also getting back to those still at the Big Four exactly what it is like to work at a smaller accounting firms, usually a good-sized regional firm. Rather than being a smaller fish in a big pond, the individual sees that he or she can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, and probably not be subject to as much pressure as at a Big Four firm.

Although the increased competition isn't welcome, the same can't be said for the talent pool that smaller firms suddenly now have access to. It is refreshing to see that more CPAs are receptive and taking advantage of the opportunities that the non-Big Four firms can provide.

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