Brown Edwards’ Commitment to Private Higher Education
We are committed to private higher education and its many challenges – students with greater financial needs; questions about access, affordability, and institutional value; and grave long-term financial sustainability concerns – to name a few. As you face these and future challenges, you will need an exceptional relationship with and commitment from a group of professionals who advise you and support your efforts. At Brown Edwards, private higher education is a core focus of our Firm – we know your issues.
- With over 40 years of experience and expertise, we are a recognized leader in the industry. Large enough to offer comprehensive services with an emphasis on quality and highly personalized services.
- We redefine “normal” with our “beyond the basics” value, service and highly unique deliverables.
- Our service philosophy – quality, timely and personalized service – the “cornerstone” of our practice.
- Round-the-clock, 24/7 commitment.
- Reasonable and competitive fees that are a “win/win.”
Our ultimate goal is not to merely render services, but to be committed to your institution’s strategic plan and needs.
Let us introduce you to our “normal.”
Why Choose Brown Edwards?
The Right Firm
- Brown Edwards is committed to higher education. Serving the private higher education industry is a core focus in our firm. For you, this means that we understand your issues, your challenges, and your unique accounting and reporting requirements.
- We offer you the comprehensive size and scope of a large national firm with a strong emphasis on personal and quality service; plus, you’ll be dealing with seasoned, high level CPAs on your important issues and your audit
- Higher education industry expertise – serving a number of small, private higher education clients within reasonable geographic proximity to you allows Brown Edwards to be a leader in this industry
- Quality audits and advice on making your financial statements more transparent and that “tell your story”.
- Unrivaled benchmarking information included in your audit fee; plus, we don’t just calculate the trends, we provide meaningful counsel regarding how they impact you
- An annual State of Private Higher Education article to keep you abreast of what’s happening in the industry; Monthly electronic tax alerts and accounting newsletters specifically geared to higher education
- A top-notch higher education seminar and other training sessions
The Right People
Brown Edwards has a pool of higher education specialists who are highly experienced and sensitive to your needs and concerns. Our team members are noted by our clients for their accessibility and hands-on style, as well as the depth of knowledge and capabilities. Ultimately, in professional relationships, people make the difference.
In addition, you know you can expect the following from your Brown Edwards’ team:
- Accessible and responsive – 24/7 availability with experienced HE personnel
- Significant senior level involvement and availability, which is not always a given with many of our competitors
- Trained to take a practical approach with practical solutions, and to be courteous and professional
Our Value-Added Audit Approach
Our audit process addresses today’s heightened risks and makes suggestions to alleviate them, which helps to ensure your integrity and reputation. In addition to giving you the compliance value you deserve through an efficient and effective audit, we will deliver the business value you should expect. This philosophy is the cornerstone of the Brown Edwards’ audit approach. You can expect all of the following as a part of your audit by Brown Edwards:
- Our audits are efficient, thorough, and effective – the epitome of quality
- Appropriately focused using an “8-hour” risk assessment methodology directed at key controls – budgeting process, restricted contributions, endowment monitoring and oversight, and the financial reporting process
- Timely communications – formal pre-audit, during the audit process, and formal post-audit
- State-of-the art approach – full use of the latest technology; paperless
- Assessment of your information technology risks and controls by an experienced CISA (Certified Information System Auditor)
- We give you the compliance value but also leverage our in-depth knowledge of the College to deliver business value
- Benchmarking comparisons and related high-level counsel, operational advice, and traditional required communications on internal controls
- Communicated to you in a clear and concise presentation along with other deliverables
- Our approach addresses today’s heightened awareness of corruption and fraud by identifying risks and making suggestions to alleviate them
Reasonable and Competitive Fees
Concern over the level of fees for accounting and consulting services is a real issue for every business, particularly with so much pressure on increasing costs. We are highly sensitive to this concern and are committed to ensuring all appropriate actions are taken to maintain fees at reasonable levels. However, we also recognize that fees cannot be compromised for reduced quality. Our goal is always to be fair to the College and to Brown Edwards – a “win/win situation.”
Brown Edwards Higher Education Services
Assurance and Audit Services
- Independent external audit
- Employee benefit plan/403(b) audit
- Specialized audits – effectiveness of internal controls, reports of specific operations
- Accounting advisory – accounting assistance, projections
Preparation or review of Form 990 and Form 990T
- Overall financial statement presentation, disclosure and transparency
- Utilizing an operating measure
- Classification of net assets
- Development of a chart of accounts structure
- Financial projections with related financial ratio analysis
- Employee training on all aspects of financial statement elements
- Accounting and classification of contributions and split-interest agreements
- Accounting for asset retirement obligations (asbestos removal)
- Enhancing financial reporting controls related to the closing process
Accountability & Governance
- Development of audit committee charters, roles and responsibilities and other related policies
- Conflict of interest, whistleblower and record retention policies
- Practical ways to meet audit committee responsibilities
- Development of policies related to executive compensation and Form 990 review
- Board financial statement training for not-for-profit organizations
- Development and execution of an internal audit function and programs
Organizational Change, Strategy & Finance
- Strategic business analysis – assess current resources and project future needs
- Organization structure
- Financial benchmarking
- Strategic debt management
- Accounting for various types of investments including alternative investments
- Implementation and accounting for the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA)
- Endowment spending practices
- Benchmarking of investment returns
- Executive and other compensation-related matters
- Form 990 and 990-T issues
- Unrelated business income
- Assisted clients with the IRS College & University Compliance Project
- Internal control assessments
- Enterprise risk management (ERM)
- 401(k) and 403(b) consultation, design and audits
Learn more about how we can support your institutionContact One of Our Team Members
What Clients SayAbout Our Accounting Services for Colleges and Universities
"Our time with Brown Edwards has been very positive. From a higher education perspective their conference in June is high on our list to attend. The ability to network with other schools and learn from them as well as the speakers that are brought in is fantastic. The audit is very well prepared and the communication between us and them is great. Besides the normal financial statements and notes that go to the board they provide other information such as ratios from Moody’s, CFI score and articles on the industry that our board has found quite useful. We feel our time with Brown Edwards has been time well spent and has helped us do our jobs better."
Doug Frood - Associate Vice President, Southern Adventist University
"Trinity Washington University has been a client of Brown Edwards for almost eight years. During that time, we have established an excellent relationship with not only the audit teams that come to campus but the team that supports them in Roanoke. Trinity used larger audit firms in the past and we have found no comparison to the accessibility, helpfulness, responsiveness and reasonableness of the Brown Edwards team. Their Higher Education Team are the consummate professionals. Trinity has been and continues to be a very satisfied client."
Barbara Lettiere - CEO Trinity Washington University
" Trinity Washington University has been a client of Brown Edwards for many years, not only for our financial audits but for the annual DC Retirement Plan (403b) Audit. Brown Edwards manages the audit in ways that are instructional and helpful, as we prepare the reports and information needed to complete the audit work for our plan. They are organized, efficient and the preparation process is clear and easy to understand. I have worked with many auditing firms in my career and the Brown Edwards Team is one of the very best. I would recommend this firm, without reservation to any of my colleagues in higher education. "
Carole King - Vice President for Human Resources Trinity Washington University
"Brown Edwards has added value at the two colleges I have served as chief financial officer. Higher education has a complicated business model in which many things have to go well in order for an institution to be successful. Brown Edwards understands the complexities of higher education and that each institution has its own individual strengths and weaknesses. Needs are different. As independent auditors, they adjust to the needs of the client. Brown Edwards provides services that strengthen the institutions they serve. I recommend that you consider Brown Edwards & Company to serve as your institution’s independent auditor."