Wipfli to Merge in Weltman Bernfield

Wipfli LLP is expanding its presence in the Chicago area by adding Weltman Bernfield LLC, a firm based in the suburb of Buffalo Grove, Ill., effective September 1.

The deal is the latest in a string of M&A activity for Wipfli. Earlier this month, the Milwaukee-based firm merged in the health care consulting firm, HFS Consultants, in Oakland, Calif. (see Wipfli Merges in HFS Consultants). In May, it merged in Brittenford Systems, a technology-oriented firm based in Reston, Va. (see Wipfli Merges in Brittenford Systems). In January, it merged in Steinberg Advisors, another Chicago-area firm based in Northbrook, Ill. (see Wipfli Adds Steinberg Advisors).

As part of the latest deal, approximately 45 people from Weltman Bernfield, including nine partners, will join Wipfli’s more than 1,600 professionals. Wipfli ranked 19th on Accounting Today’s 2016 list of the Top 100 Firms, with $227 million in annual revenue.

“We are pleased to welcome Weltman Bernfield’s highly skilled professionals to the firm,” said Wipfli managing partner Rick Dreher in a statement. “The services that Weltman Bernfield provides to their clients complement Wipfli’s core services, so this combination will deepen our resources and further strengthen Wipfli’s geographic presence in the Chicago market. Joining forces with Weltman Bernfield represents another significant step in positioning us as a major player in a strategically key market for Wipfli.”

Weltman Bernfield dates back to 1920 and offers accounting, audit, tax and business consulting services to individuals and private companies in a wide range of industries.

“Our firms share very similar cultures and commitments to exceptional client service,” said Weltman Bernfield managing member Glenn Mikell. “Joining with Wipfli will provide our firm with new and enhanced services and capabilities beyond traditional services to help our clients address their challenges and leverage opportunities. This combination will also be beneficial to our employees by opening up new opportunities to grow professionally.” 

Wipfli has been in the accounting profession for over 86 years and is a member of the Allinial Global association of accounting firms. With the addition of Weltman Bernfield, the combined firm will have more than 1,700 associates, including over 200 partners, and 39 office locations across the U.S. and India, including four offices in the Chicago area.

“This merger is huge for Wipfli as it really solidifies their position in Chicago as a major player amongst CPA firms,” said Allan D. Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group, who advised both firms on the merger. “This deal, when combined with the Steinberg Advisors deal announced earlier this year, makes Wipfli one of the largest CPA firms in Chicago.”

Koltin anticipates another M&A deal for Wipfli in the Chicago area soon. “I wouldn’t be surprised to still see Wipfli do another merger in downtown Chicago in the next year or two to round out their strategy,” he said. “Wipfli is unique amongst most Top 20 national CPA firms in that they have significant consulting and advisory services for clients and that is truly a differentiator for them in the marketplace. Weltman Bernfield is a known and respected name in the Chicago business, financial, and legal community having been around for almost 100 years.”

He saw a potential match between the two firms when their leaders originally met a year ago. “At their first meeting with Wipfli last August you could see the chemistry and cultures lining up right from the beginning,” said Koltin. “Over the past couple of years Weltman Bernfield had been approached by a couple of other national firms but felt Wipfli would be a great fit for their clients especially with so many of Wipfli’s resources in nearby Wisconsin and the Midwest. It also was a benefit that the Steinberg group was already part of Wipfli as these two firms (Steinberg and Weltman Bernfield) could just as easily have merged together at some point in the future."

"What also really moved Weltman Bernfield forward was the tremendous growth opportunities for their people," Koltin added. "At a time where every CPA firm claims to be ‘the best place to work or an employer of choice,’ it was really refreshing to see a firm like Weltman Bernfield as they truly embrace their people and care about their professional growth and well-being.”

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