Jumping Into 2013
January 7, 2022

Happy New Year!

Excited for the year ahead, I reflected on the flow of information from 2012. We have never moved faster, thanks to the complete ascendency of social media and technological advances. Many of us learned about the biggest happenings of 2012 through Twitter, Facebook or blogs, like Michael Phelps winning his historic 18th gold medal at the London Olympics, or the incredible rise of the viral sensation “Gangnam Style.” We saw social media giant Facebook go public and can now choose from more apps than we can keep track of. We now have platforms to voice immediate responses and engage in discussions, changing the way we regularly communicate.

In light of this changing landscape, this blog, which started out as more of a journal, is now completely interactive. Your feedback and questions are encouraged and integral to generating meaningful discussions and insights. Sometimes you have to step outside of your comfort zone in order to evolve, and although this is new to me, I am eager and ready to dive entirely into this blog.

Your suggestions and feedback will inspire my future posts. I’m positive 2013 will bring great things for our firm, starting with this interactive blog, the first of many changes we are making to better connect with our clients. From all of us at ParenteBeard, we would like to wish you a happy and prosperous New Year and encourage you to try something new, even if it’s not exactly in your comfort zone.

Thanks for stopping by.


When in China…
November 5, 2021

As I was heading from the hotel to the airport for my return flight home, I found myself mulling over several observations from my enlightening trip to China. Throughout my time in Beijing, there were many instances where I felt as if I could have been in the States. This despite the apparent boom in construction as evidenced by cranes everywhere, the food trucks selling exotic fare such as scorpion and centipede, and the always gridlocked highways with drivers treating the shoulders as a passing lane. Even while separated by more then 7,000 miles, the morning papers’ content was centered on the same issues I would have been reading in the WSJ back home. Everywhere I looked, all I saw were heads buried in iPhones and Samsungs. At times I forgot I was even in China.

But despite how connected our countries are and the increasing appetite for a western style of living , it is still a country with a very special character of its own. Nowhere was this more apparent than in conducting business. No matter how similar our countries appear to be, business in China is deeply rooted in tradition and habits. In fact, I’ve noticed that the biggest difference in our business cultures lies in our respective decision-making processes.

In the U.S., we often approach business decisions very objectively and analytically. It’s the “show me the numbers and I’ll make the decision” mentality. In China, businessmen tend to look at the bigger picture first and use more subjective observations, such as the relationship dynamic, to make the decision. Neither way is correct nor incorrect – they’re just different styles. But if you want to successfully do business with a Chinese partner, you need to understand and appreciate their business etiquette.

So as our cultures converge and at times seem indistinguishable, it’s important to understand that we still have fundamental differences in how we approach business. Traveling provides us all with an opportunity to learn and grow both personally and professionally. It helps open our minds to new approaches to work and life. Among the cultural differences I’ve yet to fully adjust to, though, is China’s Airport Customs and Security, which involved much stricter measures when exiting their country than ours. I never thought I would actually long for the process the TSA has in place in the U.S. Once again, it’s an example of how countries can have different approaches to reach the same end goal.

But I’m happy to be back home with my family now, even with the renewed jetlag I had just overcome.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Not Lost in Translation
October 29, 2021

After a day of meetings and recovering from the still-lingering jet lag, our tax practice leader Joe O’Neill and I had the privilege of attending a private dinner at an exquisite Chinese restaurant. The event was hosted by a senior executive of a financial services firm who happens to be a close personal friend of Mr. Chen Yonghong, the managing partner of Baker Tilly China. Beyond being good company, Mr. Chen was able to help us key in on details that can often get lost in translation through the cultural and language barriers of international business.

No matter how many times I’ve done it, communicating through a translator is a challenging task. But I’ve found it forces you to be even more focused on the conversation. You notice things like body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. You might take these for granted if you’re both speaking the same language. If you think about it, sometimes the non-verbal cues can tell you a lot more about how a person is feeling than the words that they’re saying anyway.

At the event we had two translators who facilitated our conversations. Over a traditional 10-course Chinese meal we discussed our families, Chinese and U.S. politics, the upcoming U.S. Presidential election and the changing landscape of Chinese leadership, among other topics. Talking business, though, was almost nonexistent during dinner.

By the end of the evening after many toasts to friendship, family and good health, we realized how we can all benefit from doing business together. I can safely say that even though we didn’t speak the same language, nothing was lost in translation.

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Reflections from the Road: China
October 22, 2021

I’m in Beijing, China, attending the Baker Tilly International world conference.  It’s my second trip here and I really enjoy the country and its people.

The purpose of my trip is to participate in Baker Tilly international’s governance and operational meetings as both an international board member and the chairman of the North American region.  Baker Tilly International is a worldwide network of independent accounting and business advisory firms in 125 countries, with more than 24,000 professionals and a combined revenue of over $3 billion.  ParenteBeard now has a global reach thanks to our affiliation with the network and I travel internationally several times a year as a chairman.

This trip, I will be attending a variety of presentations by distinguished individuals from across the globe.  I’ll also network with our global member firms that refer business and provide service to our clients who have overseas operations.  I will attend a Baker Tilly China client function to promote the network and the advantages of doing business in the U.S. through Baker Tilly International’s network.  My plans also include a dinner with the deputy general manager of one of the largest international financial institutions.

People are always interested in the details of my time abroad.  My next few posts will share some of my experiences and observations.

Here’s a snapshot of the first part of my trip:

  • Left home at 7:00 am to drive to Newark
  • Departed U.S. at 11:55 am
  • Flew 7,280 miles north through Canada over the North Pole to Beijing
  • Estimated travel time:  13 hours
  • Read the current edition of Wine Spectator, started reading a book written by my friend Donald Bliss entitled “Mark Twain’s Tale of Today” and read various documents and position papers
  • Slept for two hours
  • Listened to jazz and classical music
  • Endured a very turbulent flight for the first 2,000 miles
  • Landed on time; cleared customs easily
  • Arrived Wednesday afternoon (time difference is 12 hours ahead and I left Tuesday morning)

Had dinner with a friend from Brazil. Conversation centered on the Latin American economy and the economic challenges facing the region as a result of what’s happening globally.  For example, in Sao Paulo, apartments were very scarce 24 months ago. Now, apartments are widely available in that city. My question: where did everybody go?

A few other observations on the evening:

  • About the meal:  enjoyed phenomenal Australian beef; there were few American wines; there were limited, but very expensive, brands of French wines; Australian and Latin American wines were reasonably priced.
  • An amazing number of Chinese and Asians smoke – everywhere.
  • I was intrigued by our Chinese bartender Nigel.  When I asked him about his name, he shared a story that he was told as a boy to adopt an English name.

I’m contemplating all of the similarities and differences between China and the U.S. when my phone rings towards the end of the night.

It’s Comcast reminding me that CNN is moving to another channel in their lineup.

Thanks for stopping by.

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