The Shipping Industry Accounting Team

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For the past five years I have been working at McKay, Sanderson, and Smith Associates, a mid-sized accounting firm in Boston that specializes in commercial accounting and audits. My particular specialty in accounting practices for shipping companies, ranging from small fishing fleets to a couple of the big firms with ships along the East Coast. About 18 months ago McKay, Sanderson, and Smith Associates became part of a large merger involving two other accounting firms. These firms have offices in Miami, Seattle, Baton Rouge, and Los Angeles. Although the other two accounting firms were much larger than McKay, all three firms agreed to avoid centralizing the business around one office in Los Angeles. Instead the new firm—called Goldberg, Choo, and McKay Associates—would rely on teams across the country to “leverage the synergies of our collective knowledge” (an often-cited statement from the managing partner soon after the merger). The merger affected me a year ago when my boss (a senior partner and vice president of the merger) announced that I would be working more closely with three people from the other two firms to become the firm’s new shipping industry accounting team. The other team members were Elias in Miami, Susan in Seattle, and Brad in Los Angeles. I had met Elias briefly at a meeting in New York City during the merger but had never met Susan or Brad, although I knew that they were shipping accounting professionals at the other firms. Initially the shipping team activities involved e-mailing each other about new contracts and prospective clients. Later we were asked to submit joint monthly reports on accounting statements and issues. Normally I submitted my own monthly reports to summarize activities involving my own clients. Coordinating the monthly report with three other people took much more time, particularly because different accounting documentation procedures across the three firms were still being resolved. It took numerous e-mail messages an...
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