AICPA, CIMA stakes claim to a global management accounting certification

One of the big reasons for merging Canada’s accounting professions is the global competition nipping at their (our?) heels. One such challenger, as highlighted in the current CA Magazine, is the Chartered Global Management Accountant certification, a product of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

Cue Patrick Bateman: “Look at that subtle off-white coloring; the tasteful thickness of it… Oh my god, it even has a charter.”

I’m not sure why I should be worried about a brand new certification with no history and nascent prestige (to be charitable), but, … uh… hey, free magazine!

Accepting the argument that we need to meet this threat head-on by joining forces with our brethren, this might lead some to believe CMAs would be assuming the front lines in this battle, given their pedigree with management accounting. If we take these upstarts to be our challengers, this will no doubt impact the development of the merged curriculum and other requirements.

CA Magazine’s done some recon:

The hallmark of the CGMA designation is expertise in applying nonfinancial, qualitative information along with financial analysis to understand all aspects of business. According to a study done by the two institutes, this will be in increasing demand by international businesses that want integrated financial and nonfinancial information.

I think what they mean here is expertise is applying non-financial and/or qualitative information. As we all know, there are many important metrics in all businesses which are non-financial, but still quantitative. I think they’re taking that from this page which compares and contrasts financial accounting and the added value of management accounting. Where the former is concerned with the financial, the latter adds non-financial. Where the former focuses on quants, the latter includes qualitative information. (Conclusion: It’s all marketing!)

One thing is for certain, according to the pro-merger forces among us: War is coming.

(Yeah that’s right, I started this with an American Psycho reference and I’m ending it with a Game of Thrones reference. What of it?)


Grant Thornton UK swallows Robson Rhodes whole

Grant Thornton in the UK merged earlier in the year with RSM Robson Rhodes, making it “a leading player in the mid-market and the provider of non-audit services to one in four of the FTSE 100,” according to GT’s chief Michael Cleary.

The board of the merged entity makes the transaction look more like an acquisition:

Michael Cleary heads up the board as chief executive, but, of the former Robson Rhodes partners, only David Maxwell has a berth on the panel, which has seven members in total.

So basically Grant Thornton is maintaining control over the new entity through its board. Is this good or bad? Shouldn’t there be more than one former RSM partner on the board, since there are 7 members? Seems strange to me is all. Makes me think the merger was just to acquire RSM’s clients rather than really synergize and reap the benefits of shaking things up for both groups management-wise.

Michael Cleary was so effusive in press releases after the merger that this was heralding in a new age for the merged firm, in terms of providing the Big Four with some real competition.

Jeremy Newman of BDO at the time commented that his firm was going in a different direction in taking the fight to the Big Four’s dominance, and that merging to compete was sending the wrong message about what it really takes to provide a Big Four level of service to clients. Basically, the message was that size matters. Jeremy has been adamant that it is investment in people that really matters at the mid-tier level.

Time will tell which strategy works better.


BDO Dunwoody merges with Goodman Rosen

Hot on the heels of their announcement that the merger discussions with Grant Thornton were called off, BDO Dunwoody’s insolvency practice BDO Dunwoody Ltd. has joined forces in Nova Scotia with Goodman Rosen Inc.

Expanding one of Canada’s most comprehensive financial recovery practices, BDO Dunwoody Limited, Trustee in Bankruptcy and Goodman Rosen Inc., Trustee in Bankruptcy have agreed to merge their professional practices effective July 1, 2007. In Halifax and Sydney, the merged firm will operate as BDO Dunwoody Goodman Rosen Inc.

HandshakeGoodman Rosen Inc. is a boutique firm specializing in financial recovery services in Halifax and Sydney. The merger heralds a bold move by BDO to grow their full-service practice organically throughout Atlantic Canada.

In an ironic twist, Goodman Rosen currently offer (according to their website) appointments in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia at Grant Thornton’s offices.

What do you think? Is this a better growth option for BDO in Canada versus the attention-grabbing Grant Thornton merger talks announced earlier?


BDO and Grant Thornton decide against merger

It was only a few weeks ago I was blogging about the the potential merger in Canada of BDO Dunwoody and Grant Thornton. They announced that they were in talks and conducting the necessary due diligence procedures to see if a merger would be good for the two firms and their clients.

They announced today that the merger talks are off.

BDO Dunwoody LLP and Grant Thornton LLP announce today that their respective Boards have agreed to discontinue merger discussions. No specific reason led to the decision to cease discussions; however, both firms recognized that despite the potential of the union, a merger of this nature also presented significant challenges.

HandshakeFirst and foremost I’d say the fact they belong to their respective international networks and one of the two firms would’ve had to dissolve in Canada and the merged firm continue as the remaining firm. That’s a lot of brand value up in smoke for either one of them. I’m not sure the merger’s potential benefits would’ve been great enough to overcome even that sole stumbling block.

So Grant Thornton merges with RSM Robson Rhodes in the UK, and the Grant Thornton merger with BDO in Canada is kaput. Who’s next?


Grant Thornton UK merges with RSM Robson Rhodes

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.