Article:

BDO’s global growth on track

28 January 2016

Tony Schiffmann , Brisbane Office Managing Partner |

As a member of the BDO Global Board I’m lucky enough to be involved in guiding the strategic direction of our international network. I recently returned from our latest Board meeting in Washington (luckily I escaped before ‘Snowmaggedon’ arrived!) and it was fantastic to hear how our growth plans are coming to fruition.

Global financial results

While the Big 4 are continuing to grow aggressively through global merger and acquisition (M&A) activity and many mid-tiers have slowed down, our 2015 global results revealed strong, double digit growth. We achieved a 12.95% increase in revenue, with our total combined fee income for the year ended 30 September 2015 reaching US$7.30 billion.

This positive performance was fuelled by continued, strong organic growth in China and M&A activity around the world, particularly in the US. Some of the 19 M&As we undertook during the year included:

  • BDO Austria took on 10 partners and 55 professionals from Grant Thornton, making the firm the undisputed mid-tier leader in the Austrian market
  • BDO Canada achieved two mergers with PKF: one a CAN $8 million assurance, tax and wealth management practice located in London Ontario; the other a Montreal-based firm, adding CAN $13 million in revenue  
  • BDO Italy joined forces with Mazars, under the BDO brand. The resulting firm has combined revenues of some €65 million, making it the mid-tier leader in Italy
  • BDO France enacted four local mergers, strengthening the Paris office and establishing a presence in southern France
  • BDO Germany’s newly-created BDO Restructuring GmbH in Dusseldorf undertook a merger in the advisory and legal area in July, bringing the firm significant additional insolvency management capabilities
  • BDO South Africa’s Johannesburg office merged with RW Irish-Alliott Inc
  • BDO USA posted a 29% rise in annual revenues thanks to a combination of its aggressive M&A strategy and successful organic growth. During the year BDO USA executed four significant mergers, including UHY in Texas, SS&G in Ohio and Chicago, Stone Carlie in St Louis, and Cross, Fernandez & Riley in central Florida. Overall, an impressive thirteen expansions over the past three years have seen the US firm add nearly 2,000 staff members to its practice!

All of this growth means we now have 1,408 offices across 154 territories, with a team of more than 64,000 people.

Importantly, our partner to professional staff ratio is 1 to 9 – an impressive demonstration of how we continue to deliver exceptional client service through our partner-led approach.

The Board continues to see M&A opportunities all over the world, with at least a dozen on the cards for the near future, so watch this space!

Insights from other firms

Patrick Kramer, the new CEO for BDO Canada, attended the meeting, giving us an update of the firm’s growth plans, particularly around M&A activity and its focus on technology advisory. There are lots of good analogies between the Canadian practice and ours here in Australia, so there were some great take outs for me from his insights regarding strategy.

The key thing I’ve witnessed as a member of the Global Board is the true benefit of our international network – for both member firms and leaders such as myself. With everything we are working on at the moment, I’m looking forward to hearing more about our progress at the next meeting in a few months.