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Irvine’s Hall & Co. Joins MGO

Hall & Co., an Irvine-based accounting firm, has joined Los Angeles-based MGO LLP.

The deal marks the latest in a string of notable mergers involving Orange County-based accounting firms.


“We’ll be one of the bigger firms in Orange County,” Managing Director Brad Hall told the Business Journal. “We’ll be able to expand into a national footprint.”


Hall started his firm 35 years ago, building it to 60 employees with specialties including technology, pharmaceuticals, apparel, and research tax credits. It ranked No. 22 on the Business Journal’s most recent list of Orange County accounting firms by number of local employee count.

 
MGO, an acronym for Macias Gini & O’Connell, has an existing office in Orange County with about 30 employees. The two firms together will rank among the 15 largest accounting firms in Orange County.

Similar Cultures

Executives at the two companies got to know each other better a couple years ago when Hall & Co. joined the BDO Alliance, a nationwide association of independently owned accounting firms.  


“Culturally, it’s a great fit,” MGO Chief Executive Kevin O’Connell told the Business Journal.

 
MGO is noted for expertise in industries like entertainment, cannabis and life sciences, O’Connell said. The firm has 13 U.S. offices and another four overseas.


Hall & Co. is based in the Irvine Spectrum area, near the 133 Toll Road. It leases about 15,000 square feet at the building, which was sold last summer to Toda America, the U.S. division of Japanese construction firm Toda Corp.

 
Toda paid $26.2 million for the nearly 68,500-square-foot office.

Organic Grower

MGO was ranked the third fastest-growing accounting firm on a list of the top 100 firms and regional leaders, with 2019 revenue climbing 32% to $77 million, according to the Accounting Today magazine.


O’Connell said he may consider more acquisitions after Hall & Co.

 
“We’ve never been a serial acquirer. There’s a lot of activity everywhere. There’s more interest than what I’ve seen in the past.”


In the past couple of years, six other larger-sized Orange County-based firms joined others.


KSJG merged with Withum Smith+Brown PC; HMWC with Eide Bailly LLP; White Nelson with CLA LLP; Kramer Olsen with BPM LLP; Bolar Hirsch with Armanino LLP and Squar Milner with Baker Tilly US LLP.


The reason for this trend is because larger firms need to have a presence in Orange County, said O’Connell, who added that his firm’s already been practicing for 30 years in Orange County.

 
“If you look throughout the country, there are certain markets that are bellwethers in California,” he said. “All of those other mergers came into Orange County to establish a beach head.”

 
On the other hand, smaller firms need to be able to say they have the capability to provide a wide variety of services, O’Connell said.


“There’s the demand for the ability to serve clients anywhere on the global,” he said. “It’s difficult to make those investments as a smaller firm. One plus one equals something more than two.”  

Eaten Up 

“CPA firms are starting to realize that the smaller firms will be eaten up because we need these specialized areas,” Hall said. “If we don’t have them, we’ll be shortchanging our clients.”


There won’t be any layoffs and instead his office is “bursting at the seams” and is looking at options for more office space. Hall said he’s emphasized to his clients that “nothing will change.”


While MGO is 10 times the size of his firm and his name won’t be part of MGO, Hall considers it a merger because he’ll be in charge of the Irvine office with almost 100 employees.

 
“After 35 years, I’m ready to allow someone else to be in the limelight,” Hall said. 

Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan has been a journalist for 40 years. He spent a decade in Latin America covering wars, narcotic traffickers, earthquakes, and business. His resume includes 15 years at Bloomberg News where his headlines and articles sometimes moved the market caps of companies he covered by hundreds of millions of dollars. His articles have been published worldwide, including the New York Times and the Washington Post; he's appeared on CNN, CBC, BBC, and Bloomberg TV. He was awarded a Kiplinger Fellowship at The Ohio State University.
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