Texas-based accounting and consulting firms Whitley Penn and Null-Lairson have agreed to combine, effective May 1, expanding Whitley Penn’s presence across the Lone Star state.

The combined firm will be known as Whitley Penn. It will have nearly 300 employees, including 35 partners, and will be a Top 60 firm in the United States. The combined firm will have over $50 million in annual revenue and provide extensive services in the country’s fourth and fifth largest metropolitan areas.

Whitley Penn has offices in Fort Worth and Dallas and is the largest firm in Tarrant County and the sixth largest in Dallas/Fort Worth.  Null-Lairson has offices in Houston, Texas City and Sugar Land.

Approximately 60 percent of the professional staff at the combined firm are CPAs. The firm will be part of Nexia International, a global affiliation of regional accounting firms serving clients in more than 110 countries.

“This merger will allow us to serve our current Houston-area clients with a local presence and broaden our Dallas/Fort Worth offering to include Null-Lairson’s statewide reputation for delivering audit and consulting services to governmental entities,” said Whitley Penn managing partner Larry Autrey in a statement. “Together, the firm will be positioned for accelerated growth and strong client service throughout Texas and the Southwest across a broad range of industries and service offerings.”

His firm will be gaining several local government clients from the merger. Null-Lairson’s clients in North Texas include the Arlington, Lewisville and Forney independent school districts.

“This merger will accelerate our growth and broaden our service offerings to clients in the Houston area by adding the deep experience of Whitley Penn in the oil and gas industry and in serving the public company market,” said Null-Lairson managing partner John Null. “This will be a win for our clients, our staff and the Houston area.”

The combined firm plans to focus on public and private entities in a number of industries and service lines, including employee benefit plans, energy, financial services, government, healthcare, high-net-worth individuals, family offices,  manufacturing, distribution, nonprofits, professional services, real estate, retail, restaurants and technology.

Services include audit, tax planning and compliance, risk management, process improvement, litigation support, fraud investigations, consulting, business and asset valuations, financial services and bookkeeping.

“This is a perfect fit,” Autrey said. “While having some duplication in practice areas, each firm can also bring more to its clients. Null-Lairson’s expertise in public sector work is needed in the Dallas/ Ft. Worth area and we are pleased to provide it. We are also delighted to now offer our clients an office presence in Houston.”

Both firms have been recognized by Accounting Today as “Best Accounting Firms in the U. S. to Work For.” While revenue growth in the industry averaged 1 percent during 2011, Whitley Penn grew its revenues 17 percent.

Koltin Consulting Group CEO Allan D. Koltin, who has advised both firms on mergers commented, “For Whitley Penn this puts them in Houston in a big way. As one of the highest-performing firms in the profession they have a rather high bar and Null Lairson was just what they were looking for. Null Lairson has a great nonprofit and governmental practice and should have success taking this niche to the Dallas-Fort Worth market. They also have a great reputation in Houston and this should make Whitley Penn’s entry that much easier.”

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