SANTA ROSA -- After growing his accounting firm -- now the North Bay office of Burr Pilger Mayer -- into one of the largest and most well-known in the region, Jim Andersen has stepped away from his management role and joined a new firm that will allow him to focus on his practice in forensic accounting, succession planning and other specialized fields.

[caption id="attachment_44311" align="alignright" width="200"] Jim Andersen[/caption]

With plans to divide his time between a new Santa Rosa office and the firm's headquarters in San Francisco, Mr. Andersen, 64, began his role as partner at Hemming Morse, LLP, on Nov. 1.The firm has a national reputation as a consultant for legal cases requiring forensic accounting expertise, an area where Mr. Andersen established himself as an early pioneer in the North Bay.

"My vision is -- this is opening me up to a national profile, for the ability to do bigger assignments," said Mr. Andersen.

Joining Hemming Morse was the next step in a deliberate strategy for Mr. Andersen, a recognized expert in succession planning who merged his firm, Andersen & Company, with San Francisco-based BPM in 2009. The merger allowed employees of the former Andersen & Co. to continue with a new full-service firm, and for Mr. Andersen to gradually wind down his day-to-day duties as a manager.

Today, the North Bay office for BPM is the second-largest accounting office in the region, with 25 accountants and a total of 50 employees on staff. BPM has more than 500 employees across its six offices.

[caption id="attachment_66388" align="alignright" width="149"] Carol O'Hara[/caption]

"Like all great visionaries, Jim had his succession plan in mind all along," said Carol O'Hara, managing partner of BPM's North Bay region. She noted Mr. Andersen's past and enduring relationship with the firm, and that "Jim's legacy will be forever tied to BPM's North Bay office -- for the team of professionals he built, and the deep client and referral relationships that we are absolutely privileged to serve."

A Santa Rosa native, Mr. Andersen said that this latest move represents something of a circle in a career that has spanned more than four decades. His new office at 1101 College Ave. in Santa Rosa is a short walk from where the former Andersen & Co. first opened in 1981, as well as the office where he began his career as a staff accountant in 1970.

[caption id="attachment_66391" align="alignright" width="150"] Paul Regan[/caption]

Hemming Morse has five offices in California and approximately 100 employees, deriving 80 percent of its revenue from forensic work, said the firm's chairman, Paul Regan. The firm has provided input for a number of complex financial cases, including the bankruptcy of the former Lehman Brothers investment bank, and has provided consulting services for entities like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the state attorney general's office.

Mr. Regan has served with Mr. Andersen on the litigation steering committee for the California Society of Certified Public Accountants and said he grew familiar with Mr. Andersen's practice as a legal consultant.

"We would have liked for him to merge with us five years ago, but he had people that he wanted to see land somewhere," said Mr. Regan, "Now that they've landed, he can focus more on his forensic and accounting work."

The new Santa Rosa office, created to support Mr. Andersen's work while in the North Bay, will help Hemming Morse to grow its practice in the region and leverage Mr. Andersen's connection with the wine and other industries, Mr. Regan said.

Mr. Andersen said he looked forward to his work with the bustling legal community in San Francisco, jokingly speculating that there were more attorneys in two core downtown office buildings than in all of Sonoma County.

"I never want to retire -- ever. This excites me," he said. "You're never too old to make changes."