Bell & Company

For over 35 years, Bell & Company has provided our clients with a level of service unmatched in our field. With over 35 full time professionals, no challenge is too great for our team with over 150 years combined experience. Our clients range in size from individual to large corporations. Our firm has the resources, experience, and depth of knowledge to offer services to both individuals and businesses. We can deliver the services you need in a professional, fast, and cost-efficient manner.

Not only do we believe in providing the best accounting services to our clients, but we also believe in giving back to our community locally, regionally, and globally. Bell & Company’s previous service work includes a fundraiser to buy and distribute over 400 containers of school supplies for children in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake and financially supporting a medical clinic in their village. 

In Arkansas, the firm supports numerous efforts in our community including; serving on the board of the Central Arkansas Salvation Army, the Angel Tree Program, various local homeless shelters, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Race Space, and Hearts and Hooves, where the firm supports Ben, a therapeutic riding horse for those with disabilities.

Richard Bell - President and CEO

Working for other accounting firms and serving as controller for a property management company, Richard developed a passion for helping others achieve their financial goals and decided to establish Bell & Company in 1982 with his wife, Lee. By doing so, Richard thought he could provide professional accounting and financial services that were delivered with competency, proficiency, timeliness, and reasonable fees. That became reality as Bell & Company has been thriving since 1982.

Richard’s areas of concentration are tax and financial consulting. Richard has niche extensive experience in the transportation industry serving as the public CPA for forty plus private carriers. Richard has written articles for transportation trade publications and provided continuing education seminars. Richard has also served as a forensic or expert witness in state and federal courts, involving transportation financial "damages" matters.

Richard’s passion is being a “work out CPA” for troubled companies.  Part of his life’s work has been helping financially distressed companies to restructure, regain viability and once again, become profitable companies that provide jobs for employees and their families.

Richard attributes his success to his childhood encouragement and support of his parents, his wife Lee (who has been his life partner for the past 40 years) the Bell firm members, and highly-respected mentors. Richard’s sister, Nell Sterling, is a partner at Bell & Company and they have practiced together for 30 years. Richard and Lee have two adult children, Clayton and Jennifer, who are already making their footprint for the betterment of society. Jennifer is an attorney and CPA who is one of the firm partners and manages the Conway location. Jennifer serves on a local bank advisory board, and the Community Foundation for Faulkner County. Clayton is a M.D. who is on the medical staff at the University of Tennessee, with practice emphasis on integrative medicine. Clayton is also nationally recognized for his volunteer work in Haiti, through a non-profit he established, Where the Stars Still Shine.

Richard and his company are active in giving back to the community through firm donations and staff time commitments in serving the underserved and the homeless in the community. The Bell firm was recognized nationally as the AICPA Public Service Firm of the Year for 2011.

Bell & Company sponsors an AMBCS mountain bike team. The team is recognized in the state for its volunteer work in bike trail maintenance and advocacy. Richard is recognized as the "slowest" over 60 competitor in state  competition, and enjoys riding with his friends Virgil and Jack.

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Nell Sterling- SHAREHOLDER and C.O.O.

Nell joined the practice in 1986 as a partner with her brother and founding partner, Richard Bell. She specializes in tax, IRS audit representation, and working with small businesses. Before her career in public accounting, Nell spent ten years in banking, sales, and marketing. She serves clients in a variety of professions, including attorneys and physicians, and other small business professionals.  She also serves the construction, transportation, and manufacturing industries.  

Nell assists her clients with setting up new business entities and working through the maze of regulations and compliance filings faced by entrepreneurs. In addition, Nell represents individuals and owners going through IRS audits and examinations.

Nell enjoys helping clients by providing personal service of the highest quality in a caring, professional manner. She is attentive to their needs and dedicated to helping them become successful and achieve their financial goals.

Nell is active in her community and serves as a director and officer for the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and the Oak Grove Community Organization. In her leisure time, Nell enjoys spending time with her husband Mike, going to car shows and the lake, and riding motorcycles. She recently adopted three horses and devotes a great amount of her spare time to these new additions.

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Jennifer L. Bell, CPA, JD, LLM IN TAXATION

Jennifer officially joined the firm in 2010 upon graduating from law school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; although she worked at the firm during summer and winter breaks since she was a teenager. Jennifer obtained her L.L.M. in Taxation from the University of Missouri at Kansas City in 2012.

With legal and accounting educational backgrounds, Jennifer is finding her niche at the firm by assisting in IRS notice correspondence – she is licensed to practice in front of the U.S. Tax Court. She also assists in small business consulting and multi-state income taxation preparation.

As a second-generation owner herself, Jennifer also works with many clients towards successful transition in the family business. Jennifer is actively involved with the Faulkner County Community Foundation as well as numerous other organizations, including Eagle Bank, Faulkner County Advisory Board, Lines Cemetery Association, UALR Bowen School of Law Alumni Board, and Where the Stars Still Shine.

Jennifer attributes her dedication and drive to succeed, not only in the work place but also to better society, to her father who taught her at an early age that it is important to give back. She also says that she is encouraged daily to give more by her brother who founded Where the Stars Still Shine, which focuses its efforts in the remote mountain village of Baie d'Orange, Sud Est, Haiti.

In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys riding horses and attending social functions in the Conway and Little Rock areas.


Jeff joined the firm in 1992, after completing a Bachelor's Degree in Education at Missouri State University. He continued his education with an accounting emphasis and became a CPA in 2006. He is responsible for providing financial and consulting services for clients in the transportation industry. 

He takes the time needed to thoroughly understand his clients’ financial situations and has assisted a number of companies with tax planning regarding  reorganizing their corporate structure to help minimize their tax burdens and improve cash flow. Helping companies paint the financial picture for banks and investors is where Jeff thrives. With his many years of experience working with transportation companies, Jeff has the ability to see where the company has been and where it is going and sometimes is able to claw back on some tax savings and make changes for future savings. He has authored articles for some transportation magazines, including Arkansas Trucking Magazine and Arkansas Business's Transportation edition.

Jeff's personal philosophy is to do whatever it takes to get the job done that will provide the clients with products of the highest quality. He has a desire to help others understand their business accounting practices, which ultimately contributes to their success.

Deborah Lawrence - Principal

Deborah joined the firm in 2006 where she is responsible for management consulting and expediting and supervising consulting projects. Prior to joining the Bell & Company team, she began her accounting career in 1991.

Deborah takes the time needed to help companies get better financial information for making management decisions. Deborah also works with Bell & Company on processes and work flow. For one company, Deborah helped design and implement departmental budgeting, resulting in increased profitability and an offer to purchase the business.

Deborah’s personal philosophy is to give every client her personal best. She attributes much of her success to her father's beliefs. Her father believed that nothing should be done “halfway.” Every job should be brought to completion and done as well as possible. He was also able to take a problem, dissect it, and find creative ways to solve it. Her father taught her to be a creative thinker and to do everything to the best of her abilities.

Deborah learned to adapt and never give up from becoming a single parent in her early twenties; she learned that things change and the importance of remaining flexible helps her better serve our clients.

Deborah enjoys quilting as a form of creative expression, and is also very interested in philosophy.

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Kelly M. Phillips, CPA - SHAREHOLDER

Kelly joined the firm in 2009, and she is responsible for client service, reviewing tax returns, managing staff workloads, and tax research. She is a charitable organization specialist, helping entities get their charitable status and maintain their exempt status once it has been approved. Prior to joining the Bell & Company Team, she began her accounting career in 2000 with a regional firm in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Kelly believes in good customer service and enthusiasm for the work she does. She works with all types of clients and is a frequent speaker to organizations about taxes for their particular industry. 

Kelly, her five children, two dogs, a cat named Taco, a turtle and four fish live in Sherwood. She spends the majority of her time outside of the office trying to keep everyone's schedules straight, and when she can find the time, reading. 

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John P. Cullum - Principal

John joined the firm as principal in 2016 and brings over 45 years of experience as a certified public accountant. John serves small and mid-sized businesses in the farming and agricultural industry, retail and wholesale businesses and works with various professionals in the legal and medical fields. He is also responsible for individual income tax preparation and planning for numerous clients.

John and his wife live in Maumelle with their two rescue dogs. He likes to play golf, and they enjoy traveling where he can indulge in another hobby of photography.

John is also retired as a Sergeant Major after serving 26 years in the U.S. Army Reserve in the finance section of the headquarters company for five states of reserve members. 

John Cullum graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He is also a 1967 graduate of Little Rock Central High School. 

Deanna Lovelady - Marketing Director

Deanna joined the firm in 1991 where she is responsible for the firm’s branding and marketing activities. She also oversees all communication to current clients as well as providing opportunities for the team to interact with the community.

Deanna’s personal philosophy is live your life one day at a time and keep it simple. She attributes much of her success to her mother; who had great work ethics and gave Deanna a great foundation. Deanna and her husband Jeff enjoy spending time with family and their daughter.

Professional Memberships:

Current Treasurer for Salvation Army Women’s Auxilary
Member of the NLR Chamber Vanguard Committee
Member of NLR Chamber of Commerce
Member of Texas Motor Carriers Association
Member of Arkansas Trucking Association
Member of National Association for Accounting Marketing



Ron joined the firm in 2017. He was formerly the managing partner of the firm King, Ball & Company, which recently merged with Bell and Company. He passed the CPA exam in 1989 and brings 30 years of public accounting experience to the firm. His primary area of practice is with small business and individuals providing various tax compliance and planning services.

He has served on various charitable and civic boards over the years. He has a special interest in the equine thoroughbred industry and has participated as an owner, breeder, syndicator, board member and advisor for many years. He has many tax clients who participate in the industry as well.

Ron lives in Maumelle with his wife Camille and has two adult sons and a daughter in law. He is a 1981 graduate of the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville with a bachelors degree in accounting.

Ron tries to follow the rule of “treating clients the way that he would want to be treated.”