After a 20 year career in government service working in the Morris County Prosecutors Office, by 2002 Darryl Neier was ready to embark on a new path.
When the National Director of a large, international accounting firm recruited Darryl to lead a forensic practice, he planted a seed. Darryl had worked closely with forensic accountants during his career but had not thought about the possibility of carving out a new role in the area for himself. He was “bit” by the entrepreneurial bug and an idea began to take shape. Having enjoyed a long friendship with Bobbie and Harold Sobel, SobelCo was always the first place Darryl turned to with his concept for launching a Forensic Accounting Practice.
Forming a Forensic Practice
The SobelCo partners agreed that this would be the natural next step for a firm that was founded on the concept of always being poised to respond to the business community’s ever changing needs.
Darryl’s distinctive skill set and experience enabled SobelCo to start a new practice based on an investigative approach to forensic accounting engagements. This unique perspective set them apart from any other competing firm. As the practice expanded, so did the team, attracting professionals across multiple disciplines while drawing on connections with the FBI, IRS and Secret Service as well as CPAs, valuation experts, economists, and others the business and law enforcement community.
Achieving the Objective: Creating a Well-Established Niche
From there the practice grew. Charged with building a local and regional footprint, the pipeline of forensic accounting engagements have ultimately taken the firm across the country to states such as New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, DC, Georgia, Missouri, California, Texas, Ohio, Mississippi and Minnesota and around the world to the UK, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Indian and Canada.
Projects ranged from criminal and civil fraud investigations to shareholder disputes, counter fraud studies, asset recovery and much more. Along the way, the firm played an integral role in two very complex monitorship cases – the investigation at UMDNJ and the opportunity to mitigate fraud, waste and abuse on the country’s largest construction project – One World Trade Center.
Over the years Darryl has taught classes at the National White Collar Crime Center and the National District Attorneys Association. He is currently an adjunct faculty member at Seton Hall, Stillman School of Business at the graduate level.
At SobelCo, the firm’s core values support an attitude of “caring about our community.” As such, the firm has encouraged all leaders to invest time contributing to the community. Darryl’s various activities have included serving as a member of the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) of Essex County, Trustee for the Morris County Bar Association Foundation and a being recognized as a 2015 Morris County Bar Patron honoree.
Proud of Our Past – Eager for What’s Ahead
As Darryl contributed to shaping a significant forensic practice over the last 16 years, he relied on the development of a smart, strong and reliable team of forensic experts. As he frequently observed, it is the team approach that has enabled our success for more than a decade. Darryl understood that any leader is only as good as the people on the team and SobelCo’s forensic group’s sustainability would rely on retaining high quality service providers.
Rebecca Fitzhugh, a seasoned CPA at SobelCo, was the first to become a full time member of the forensic practice. She brought her depth of expertise in financial challenges and investigations, quickly adding essential credentials that include the prestigious CPA/CFF, CFE, MBA, CIT, CIGA. Her knowledge and skills have served our clients, the firm, and her own professional growth very well. She has been well positioned to assume a leading role in the firm’s engagements of all sizes and across all industry sectors.
Additionally, Frank Merenda, the Managing Director at Sobel Valuations, brings his own respected reputation for conducting dependable and accurate valuations and appraisals that business owners and their advisors depend on when making critical decisions and for applying financial analysis for the computation of commercial damages.
When asked about his formula for success, Darryl says, “Be ethical in all your activities and always push yourself to work well above the bar.” In keeping with the SobelCo philosophy, Darryl notes, “Exceeding expectations is a mandate, not an option.”
As a reader of history, Darryl’s favorite quote – which sums up his own life, is by Winston Churchill who often said, “Never, never, never give up.”
We bid Darryl good luck as he begins the next chapter of his journey, and at the same time we are enthusiastic about the coming years and the exciting prospects for the firm. The litigation support practice, which is now in the capable hands of our next generation of leaders, is following the direction that has stood the test of time for over 65 years as it continues advancing and growing in response to the shifting demands of a fluctuating environment.