In February of this year BDO announced it had merged with Moore Stephens LLP, making it the UK’s largest accountancy and business advisory firm focused on mid-sized, entrepreneurially-spirited businesses.
In the Thames Valley the firm offers tax, audit, outsourcing and advisory services to a wide variety of clients in and around the region from its contemporary offices in the centre of Reading.
We spoke to BDO partners Simon Brooker and David Brookes to find out more about the reasons behind the merger and what the future holds for BDO in the region.
Following the merger in February, what’s changing for BDO in the Thames Valley?
Brooker: “I joined BDO in January 2008 and have been managing partner for the growing Reading office for the past six years. Despite the past few years being some of the most enjoyable in my career, in July I am taking on a new challenge and will become the head of our London audit group. This is a fantastic opportunity to lead almost 1,000 people and shows how our success in the Thames Valley has been recognised more widely by the firm and our leadership team.
“David will be taking over from me and leading the newly merged Reading office. I’m looking forward to seeing him take over the reins and have absolutely no doubt that he will do a great job.”
Brookes: “After 13 years as a tax partner here at BDO I am thrilled to be taking on the role of managing partner in Reading. Simon has made a huge impact over the past six years so I have big shoes to fill. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in to leading our enlarged team of almost 400 people, while still providing specialist tax advice to my own client base. I feel really lucky to be taking on this role at such an exciting time for the firm.”
What drove BDO’s decision to merge and why now?
Brooker: “With audit firms seeing unprecedented scrutiny and an uncertain political and economic landscape for business in general, if ever there were a time for firms to
turbo-charge their growth, it’s now. As a combined firm, we offer greater choice, competition and scalability to the top-end of the market, and are better placed to deal with any economic disturbance from Brexit.
“Our UK managing partner, Paul Eagland said it was clear from our first meeting with Moore Stephens that the two businesses shared a similar culture and values. As professional services firms, our people are our greatest asset and it is essential that we create an enlarged business that retains and builds upon the best that each firm has to offer.
“BDO is full of innovative people who are experts in their field and this will continue as we grow.”
Brookes: “As Simon said, the biggest asset to our business is our people. The merger provides a platform for continued, sustainable growth, as well as offering something different to the market at this important time.
“Clients are asking us to deliver an ever-increasing range and depth of solutions, provided globally, which is something we are able to offer due to our extensive BDO global network, operating in 162 countries around the world.
“As a newly enlarged firm, we bring something special to the marketplace and are in a fantastic position to challenge our competitors.”
What is BDO’s plan for the Thames Valley region?
Brooker: “The past few years have been really great for BDO in our region and we’ve seen strong and consistent growth. This means our targets for the next five years for audit, tax and advisory services are ambitious but definitely doable.”
Brookes: “We hope to grow turnover by almost 60% over the next five years which means carrying on our recruitment drive by employing an extra 150 people.
“In 2018 we recruited 36 new trainees in Reading, both graduates and apprentices. These trainees are the next generation of accountants and advisers and are playing a vital role in the business. We place a lot of emphasis on attracting and retaining the best talent and providing them with an exceptional environment in which to work. In Reading we have been leading the way in this respect, having introduced a new flexible and agile working environment in 2017.
“With regards to where this planned growth is coming from, we will continue to focus on the technology, manufacturing and life sciences sectors as well as advising listed companies and private-equity backed businesses, or those considering private equity investment, a route that more and more businesses are considering in order to boost their own growth.
“As I mentioned earlier, BDO has a very large international network and the teams work closely with our overseas colleagues, particularly those in the US, on a number of projects, advising businesses with entities or head offices outside the UK, or who are looking to expand overseas. This is something we see a lot of as a result of the types of businesses based in and around the Thames Valley and this global focus will continue.
Our global outsourcing and business services team are also based in Reading, with teams in various other regions throughout the UK. This is a real core strength of ours and another area in which we expect to see a consistent level of growth.”
Brooker: “Of course we will also continue to produce our Thames Valley Business Barometer survey and report, which has been providing a twice-yearly snapshot of business and economic confidence across the Thames Valley for the past seven years.
“I’m really proud to have headed up this campaign during my time as Reading’s managing partner and look forward to seeing David’s inaugural report later this year.”
For more information about BDO in the Thames Valley and the Business Barometer report visit: