The CPA Desk

A Thought Leader Production by PKFTexas

Content Marketing Strategy – HiMA Interactive Strategies Conference 2014


Jen: This is the PKF Texas: Entrepreneur’s Playbook. I’m Jen Lemanski, this week’s guest host, and I’m here with Kelsey Ruger, the Chief Experience Officer at CogMine and also the president of the Houston Interactive Marketing Association. Welcome back to the Playbook, Kelsey.

Kelsey: Thanks. Thanks for having me again.

Jen: So we’ve talked a little bit about the Interactive Strategies Conference, and it’s such a big deal for you guys at the HIMA. Tell me, can we dive a little bit deeper into what the content for the conference is gonna be?

Kelsey: Sure. So the big topic is content marketing, and when you think about content marketing there’s basically three things to think about. There’s your planning and strategy. There is your execution and distribution, and then there’s design of the whole thing. And so what we decided was rather than thinking about things like video and social media and blogging, let’s think about the way people work in their process. And so we’ll have some things that are dedicated to the strategy of content marketing, some are all about distribution and execution, and then there’s a track that’s dedicated to design. And that could be visual design. It could be the design of how you put these things together. But the whole idea is to give the audience a holistic view of how you manage your content marketing workflow.

Jen: So I’m sure you’ve got a few speakers lined up. Are there any notables?

Kelsey: Yes. So this year we really wanted to focus on targeting some of the people who are really out there talking about content marketing and pushing this as something that companies should be utilizing as a tool-set. So we have speakers from HubSpot, from Medium. We actually have one of the founders of Medium and one of the early employees that was at Twitter.

Jen: Oh cool.

Kelsey: So we really thought about who should be the speakers and who might be able to present the best information to the audience.

Jen: That sounds like a lot of information. I’m sure there’s a website. Where can people go if they’ve got questions?

Kelsey: Sure. They can go to the Houston Interactive Marketing Association website, which is And on that site you can find out more information about the conference, the speakers, and all of the different tracks that we have lined up.

Jen: Perfect. Sounds great. Thanks for being here, Kelsey.

Kelsey: No problem.

Jen: This has been another Thought Leader Production brought to you by the PKF Texas: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook. Tune in next week for another chapter.

Export Financing Programs for Outbound International Companies

Russ: This is the PKF Texas: Entrepreneur’s Playbook. I’m Russ Capper, this week’s guest host. Today’s topic is export financing, and I’m here once again with Cynthia Flake, Senior Vice-President in Comerica Bank’s Houston Middle Market group. Cynthia, welcome back to the Playbook.

Cynthia: Great to be back Russ.

Russ: You bet. So with all of this export business happening right now, what are some of the programs exporters are using to finance their foreign sales?

Cynthia: Well, sure. As you may know, currently there’s a lot of discussion in the press about the renewal of the U.S. Export-Import Bank’s charter coming up. Companies using the EX-IM Bank program should be visiting with their banker and monitoring those developments.

Russ: Okay. So it sounds like a very important time, and, I guess, how can a company navigate through the alternatives?

Cynthia: You know, the EX-IM Bank programs have been some of the most popular and easily accessible programs, particularly here in the Houston and, in general, the Texas market for companies. But it’s really important to know that there’s not just one set of solutions, and the right bank can help navigate a company through all the options to develop just the right solution.

Russ: Okay. Well, I imagine you’re helping a lot of our viewers our right now, so thank you so much for sharing that.

Cynthia: My pleasure.

Russ: You bet. And this has been another Thought Leader Production brought to you by PKF Texas: Entrepreneur’s Playbook. Tune in next week for another chapter.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Part Two: Drenching Del Walker

In the first challenge to our firm, PKF Texas President Kenneth Guidry named Director Del Walker among others before Kenneth and 5 Directors took 5 gallons over their heads. Although Del had already made a donation to answer that challenge, he wanted to up the ante and get serious about the cause being benefited: he challenged our PKF Texas team members to raise a serious figure for ALS, and in addition to his own donation, he would get doused by three buckets! The top three donors had the  pleasure of wielding these themselves. After all pledges have been collected, we’re proud that our team members will have raised a total of $6,541 as a firm for the ALS Association Texas Chapter.

Microbrewing as a Culinary Trend – Interview with Rassul Zarinfar of Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co.

Jen: This is the PKF Texas: Entrepreneur’s Playbook. I’m Jen Lemanski, this week’s guest host, and I’m here again with Rassul Zarinfar, the founder and CEO of Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company. Welcome back to the Playbook, Rassul.

Rassul: Thank you so much for having me.

Jen: Now, we’ve kind of seen over the last few years kind of a rise in microbreweries in Texas. So why now, and what trends are you seeing in the industry?

Rassul: Yeah. That’s a great question. And, honestly, I think if you rewind three years, it’s kind of puzzling as to why the trend hadn’t started sooner. Houston has always been a foodie city. It’s always been fashion forward in all these culinary trends. And the beer was kind of lagging behind in terms of not having really interesting things to say and sitting on the same plate as some of the most amazing world-class food, I think, on the planet.

And I think just in the last couple of years, Houstonians have started looking into their glass and they’re starting to see, “Oh, wait. You can do that with beer? That’s really interesting,” and that’s really cool, too. And then there’s been this huge local movement in terms of being more aware of where your ingredients are coming from and who’s behind the idea and who’s behind the beer in their glass. And I think that’s a culinary trend that we’re now seeing on the beverage side as well.

Jen: Now, has the regulatory environment changed at all? ‘Cause I know Colorado has a ton of microbreweries.

Rassul: Yeah. Yeah. The regulatory environment changed in a really substantive way about a year ago, but we saw this investment before the laws really changed. And so we got up and running before the laws changed, and now the laws have gotten even better for craft brewers because I think people in Austin saw the trend. They see the tax dollars that can come in. They see the growth. I mean we’ve gone from 2 employees up to 14 employees now just in two years.

Jen: Wow.

Rassul: Yeah. And it’s a real engine for growth and a high-end local product as well, high quality. So it’s good growth. It’s great growth for the city.

Jen: Perfect. Well, thanks so much for sharing that with us. Appreciate it.

Rassul: Thanks for having me.

Jen: This has been another Thought Leader Production brought to you by the PKF Texas: Entrepreneur’s Playbook. Tune in next week for another chapter.

Bitcoins – Are they for real?

Instead of getting a paycheck, imagine being paid in tokens to use at the arcade, or in “points” to use online. And still be fully taxed. Bitcoin is a bit like that.

As a virtual currency, Bitcoins do not exist physically. It is an entirely electronic exchange.

Virtual currency, according to the IRS, is a digital representation of value used as a medium of exchange. “Convertible” currency has a real currency equivalent and can be exchanged into existing monetary systems (US dollar, Euros, etc).

For tax purposes, the IRS says virtual currency is property. State laws generally require employers to pay employees in cash or the equivalent. In the US, if an employee agrees to be paid in Bitcoins, they must be paid in cash first and then buy Bitcoins from their employer, post tax.

As for independent contractors and Bitcoins, the fair market value for when services were performed, measured in US currency, is considered miscellaneous income; thus contractors paid over $600 cash equivalent are subject to Form 1099 reporting. This means an accounts payable department may be more likely to be dealing in Bitcoins than a payroll department.

The number of businesses accepting Bitcoins for payment is reportedly increasing. In the past couple years, companies such as BitPay, Wagepoint, and BitWage, have offered services as Bitcoin payroll service providers.

Is virtual currency the wave of the future? Probably not as such. But some may argue that with direct deposit and online banking, currency is already virtual.

Click here for more information. One of our Tax Associates, Matt Powalski also wrote a great article, “Bitcoin: A True Phenomenon in Digital Currency” about the tax implications of using Bitcoin, which was published by CPA Trendlines.

Houston Interactive Marketing Association – 2014 IS Conference

Jen: This is the PKF Texas: Entrepreneur’s Playbook. I’m Jen Lemanski, this week’s guest host, and I’m here again with Kelsey Ruger, the chief experience officer at CogMine, who’s also the president of the Interactive Marketing Association. Kelsey, welcome back to the Playbook.

Kelsey: Thank you, Jen. Thanks for having me.

Jen: No problem. Now, I just saw the kickoff email for the Interactive Strategies Conference. What have you guys got in store this year? ‘Cause I know previous conferences have been really well received here.

Kelsey: Well, first, the Interactive Strategies Conference is a conference that we do each year for the Interactive Marketing Association to help the community learn more about marketing, interactive technologies that might help them execute on their marketing strategies better. And so this year we felt like one of the things that we needed to talk about was content marketing, and I know a lot of people hear content marketing and think, “Okay. We’re gonna write blog posts,” or, “We’re gonna post on Twitter.” But it’s really a lot more involved than that, and it really kinda goes back to what we’re seeing happen from a behavioral standpoint. And so people are consuming more, and so as a company or as an individual, it’s really important to understand your audience and be able to strategize and plan for that and then know how to execute on that. And I think the really hidden gem with what we’re doing this year is having a layer on top of that about how you design all of these things to best work for the audience you’re talking to.

Jen: So who should attend the Interactive Strategies Conference?

Kelsey: I think everyone should attend, but really the target audience is people who work in interactive marketing. So it could be copywriters, marketers, could be designers, developers. If you touch interactive marketing or you’re responsible for content in any way, I think this conference will be a really good day for you to learn some new things.

Jen: Where is the conference, and when is the conference?

Kelsey: This year the conference will be at the University of Houston, central campus. It will be on October 17th, and it’ll start at 8:30 in the morning. And we’ve got some really great keynote speakers, and the last session is over at 3:30.

Jen: So, Kelsey, where can they go online to find out more about the conference, the speakers, all that kind of stuff?

Kelsey: So you can check out our website. It’s There you can find all the information about the schedule and all the speakers we have lined up.

Jen: Sounds good. Thanks so much for being back here.

Kelsey: No problem.

Jen: This has been another Thought Leader Production brought to you by the PKF Texas: Entrepreneur’s Playbook. Tune in next week for another chapter.

PKF Texas Directors Take ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


The partners of our Leading Edge Alliance affiliate, Anders, challenged our Directors to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. We happily accepted! In addition to pouring ice water over their heads, we will be donating an as yet to be determined amount (we’re still collecting internal donations) to the Texas Chapter of the ALS Assocation. In turn, we’re challenging EisnerAmper, EKS&H, Marcum and BeachFleischman. You’re on the clock!


Grandchild in college this fall? Paying tuition could save gift and estate taxes

Now’s the time of year when many young adults are about to head back to college — or to enter their first year of higher education. If you have a grandchild who’ll be in college this fall and you’re concerned about gift and estate taxes, you may want to consider paying some of his or her tuition.

Cash gifts to an individual generally are subject to gift tax unless you apply your $14,000 per beneficiary annual exclusion or use part of your $5.34 million lifetime gift tax exemption (which will reduce the estate tax exemption available at your death dollar-for-dollar). Gifts to grandchildren are generally also subject to the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax unless, again, you apply your $14,000 annual exclusion or use part of your $5.34 million GST tax exemption.

But tuition payments you make directly to the educational institution are tax-free without using any of your exclusions or exemptions, preserving them for other asset transfers.

This is only one of many strategies for funding college costs while saving gift and estate taxes. Please contact us for more ideas.

Export Financing – Options for Businesses

Russ: This is the PKF Texas Entrepreneurs Playbook. I’m Russ Capper. This week’s guest host. Today’s topic is export financing. And I’m here with Cynthia Flake, senior vice president in Comerica Bank’s Houston middle market group. Welcome to the Playbook, Cynthia.

Cynthia: Nice to be here, Russ.

Russ: You bet. So we recently featured a series on the Houston Port and highlighted the large amount of exports taking place in Texas these days. What are some of the unique challenges export businesses have?

Cynthia: Well, Russ, if global sales are a large enough part of a company’s business, they’re going to need working capital solutions to finance foreign receivables and inventory bound for export. And also, let’s say the company is a manufacturer with production timeline of more than a couple of months. They’re typically going to be receiving incremental payments, progress payments if you will, and may be required to issue performance letters of credit during the production time. And sometimes warranty letters of credit at the final sale.

Russ: This sounds like a complex and specialized area of financial services.

Cynthia: Well, it is. Companies with export sales can really benefit from having number one, the right bank team and also their CFO or another team member on staff dedicated to supporting the relatively large amount of trade documentation that can take place.

Russ: Okay. This sounds pretty sophisticated, and I think we need to stay on this topic. Can we have you back?

Cynthia: You bet. Glad to come back.

Russ: All right. This has been another thought leader production brought to by PKF Texas Entrepreneurs Playbook. Tune in next week for another chapter.

Growth of Microbreweries in Houston – A Chat with Rassul Zarinfar, Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company

Jen: PKF Texas: Entrepreneur’s Playbook. I’m Jen Lemanski, this week’s guest host, and I’m here with Rassul Zarinfar, the founder and CEO of Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company. Rassul, welcome to the Playbook.

Rassul: Thanks for having me, Jen.

Jen: Now, you guys have been open for a couple of years now. Can you give me a little background about Buff Brewery and what you guys are doing?

Rassul: Sure, yeah. So we’re Houston’s most innovative microbrewery. We released 27 different beers in our first 27 months. We’ve brewed with three different types of flowers. We’ve got a beer with cucumber coming out right now, and just some really new twists on old crafts in terms of recipes.

Jen: So what inspired you to start the brewery?

Rassul: Well, I looked around Texas and no one was brewing the beer that I wanted to drink. I think a lot of breweries play it safe. And when you think about Houston, Houston’s a really foodie city. It’s a really fashion-forward city in terms of culinary trends, and we haven’t been seeing that out of the breweries in Houston. So that was kinda disappointing, and that prompted us to say, “Be the change you want to see in your glass.”

Jen: Awesome. Now, where are you guys actually located?

Rassul: We’re right at I10 and Shepherd.

Jen: Oh good. So real close. Like near the Heights.

Rassul: Yeah.

Jen: Now, can they take tours of the brewery?

Rassul: Yep, yep. We’re there every Saturday from noon to 3:00. And so you can come by, grab a glass, and drink some beers.

Jen: Do you do tastings or how does that work?

Rassul: Yeah. It’s pretty unstructured. It’s more like an open house, and so all of our volunteers are really smart and know a lot about the beers. So the whole idea is – we don’t have a sign, so it’s one of those things where it’s self-select. So a really cool vibe in terms of people who know what they’re looking for and they come by. And you just hang out, and usually one of us is there to kinda talk through what you’re tasting in the glass.

Jen: Now, do you have kinda some staples that you always have and then specialty brews?

Rassul: Yeah. Yep. Yeah. So we have 1836 and More Cowbell. 1836 is a copper ale, and it’s very easygoing. More Cowbell is a double IPA, super aggressive. And those beers are available all the time, and then the other beers just rotate really rapidly. So we’ve got our Gingerbread Stout. We’ve got our Summer Wit, which is ginger, corridor, two types of orange peel, hibiscus flowers, and pink peppercorns. It’s really fresh, really bright, very crisp. Perfect for the summer. And then we’ve got our Smoke on the Bayou, which is – we hand smoke the malts at different barbeque joints across town. And we blend ‘em together to make a beer that you can’t have anywhere else on the planet. It’s literally -

Jen: So you’re getting Houston local.

Rassul: Yeah. It’s only – you can’t replicate it even year after year.

Jen: That’s perfect. Well, thanks so much for sharing your story. We really appreciate it.

Rassul: Thanks so much for coming – or having me. Yeah.

Jen: Awesome. This has been another Thought Leader Production brought to you by the PKF Texas: Entrepreneur’s Playbook. Tune in next week for another chapter.