Although they’re possibly (likely?) completely unrelated, the recent announcement in the UK that Grant Thornton would merge with RSM Robson Rhodes comes hot on the heels of the announcement in Canada that BDO Dunwoody and Grant Thornton here would enter into discussions on the possibility of merging.
The partners of Grant Thornton UK LLP and RSM Robson Rhodes LLP have today announced their agreement to merge the two firms to create one of the strongest accounting and business advisory groups in the UK.
The UK merger is a done deal according to each party, whereas in Canada BDO and GT are only engaging in talks to see if they’d like to buddy up. Still, one can’t help but think the trend of mergers could continue in other countries, possibly even the US. And if BDO and GT do not merge in Canada, is RSM Richter next on the call list for either?
Some commentary in the UK has been towards the perceived reaction to the merger by BDO Stoy Hayward, whose managing partner Jeremy Newman blogs regularly. Damian Wild of AccountancyAge practices his creative writing skills:
It will, however, have caused a few BDO Stoy Hayward partners to choke on their cornflakes on reading the news in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times. Certainly it is a blow to [Newman’s] ambitions as it puts increased distance between [Grant Thornton and BDO].
Newman himself has a different, more nuanced, take on the merger:
Whilst clearly there are some advantages to being larger we are confident that we already have sufficient scale and expertise to handle the audit of all except the largest UK companies. Ultimately it’s the quality of your people and the resultant quality of audits and client service that matter. This is why we have invested heavily in recent years to ensure we have high quality, motivated people and will continue to do so.
Doesn’t sound to me like he’s choking on much at all. Nor should he be – it isn’t size that’s going to break the Big 4. Newman is on the right track with his blog and his campaign to bring Finance Directors around to the idea that a non-Big 4 firm can handle the challenge of a large public company audit.
It’s all about attracting and retained quality people with the skills and talent to conduct quality audits for companies large, medium, and small, and Newman recognizes this.