Accountancy Age, a leading source of news and analysis for the accounting profession, cited in an article referring to its latest league table that international groups grew overall by 10%; meaning that Russell Bedford’s increase has almost doubled this rate.
Welcoming a staggering 20+ new members to the network, 2018 has been a significant year for the Russell Bedford network with new firms joining across all regions of the globe. Particular focus in developing the Middle East and Africa resulted in fee growth across both regions, with 24% and 38% increases respectively. The network also saw 17% growth in Asia Pacific, with steady growth in Europe and North America of over 10% in each.
Russell Bedford CEO, Stephen Hamlet said: "2018 has no doubt been a successful year for the network and, in fact throughout the 20 months I have now been Chief Executive, we have continued to achieve significant growth in all of our regions. It has been very rewarding to see our collective hard word and perseverance pay off with the recently announced growth rates, of which I am extremely proud. I look forward to building on this success in 2019 and continuing on our mission to bring global support to our members’ clients wherever they need it.”
A 35% increase in referrals across the network demonstrated the increasing international requirements for companies in an era of continued globalization.
The growth was partly driven by the introduction of over 20 new members to the network over the year from across the globe.
Speaking to the International Accounting Bulletin, Stephen emphasized the importance of the 35% increase in the referrals from across the network: "Our referrals have increased due to continued globalization and the inevitable need for many businesses to access global markets, which has led to more work for our existing members and helped them also grow. We keep saying it – come to our conferences, meet people, get involved, and opportunities will arise.
Attributes of success
He added that an increased need for tax advice and consultancy was a global phenomenon, pushing growth; "Accountants are becoming the first and principle trusted advisers for any business. This has led to increased work for many of our firms. Some also have invested in advanced technology and such services that modern businesses are seeking."
Talking in a recent interview with Accountancy Age, Stephen also discussed the impact that technology is having on the profession and the ongoing challenges of retaining good talent: "The combination of embracing technology while recruiting the right people will ensure that firms keep up with these changes. As processes become more automated, practices with people who have analytical skills, and those who can build relationships and relate to clients, will be the firms who will do well.”
He added: "Those who do not progress with technology and do not look at their succession plans, recruiting younger generations, providing a more flexible approach, but instead stick to their long-standing traditions, will struggle and may not survive.”
Stephen commented that, in 2019, the network will be looking to see how it can accommodate firms from some of the more developing economies that are struggling, by reviewing its subscription structure.
He added, "Regionalisation is also important. As we continue to grow so much, we need more support and particular focus in regional areas."
"And finally, we continue to look to provide even more services to our members; whether that be technical & soft skill webinars, specialist publications, more communication facilities, and an even greater & enhanced conference experience.”
On a personal note, Stephen expressed that he will continue to travel: "Although it seems like much longer, I am still only in my second year as CEO and, although I covered a lot of ground, there are still many firms I want to go and visit. It’s important to continue to get to know our members and ensure we are meeting their expectations; in fact we aim to work beyond their expectations.”
Stephen's comments in Accountancy Age can be found HERE and his interview with the International Accounting Bulletin, including looking forward to 2019, can be found HERE