Dezan Shira & Associates and the US – An Interview with Karen Kehl-Rose of the Leading Edge Alliance

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Karen Kehl-Rose, President of the Leading Edge Alliance

Karen Kehl-Rose, President of the Leading Edge Alliance

Karen Kehl-Rose is the President of the Leading Edge Alliance, an American based professional services network of over 220 professional tax and accounting firms across 106 countries. The LEA member firm combined turnover in 2016 was over US$3 billion, and it is the world’s second largest international accounting association according to the International Accounting Bulletin.

Dezan Shira & Associates are the primary LEA member firm in China. China Briefing discussed American businesses investing in Asia and the role Dezan Shira & Associates have played in introducing China opportunities to the American market with Karen Kehl-Rose.

China Briefing: It is often stated that American manufacturing companies investing outside the US are taking American jobs away. Is this something you see when American businesses invest in places such as Asia or Mexico?

KKR: This is generally a misplaced assumption. The US is moving up the innovation scale, and certain industries are either becoming too costly to keep with American labor, or are being transformed by technologies such as robotics. Auto is a good example. So no, we don’t see many jobs being lost, and if they have been then these are old, outdated technologies and processes we should be moving away from in any event. Instead, China and Asia generally have created wealth for the American economy, not detracted from it, mainly through the provision of affordable consumer products that would otherwise be too costly to manufacture in the US.

China Briefing: Have you seen an upswing in the amount of revenue repatriated from Asia to your member firms’ balance sheets back in the United States? Is the IRS benefiting from American firms and businesses setting up operations or collaborating in Asia?

KKR: Yes. Almost without exception, our member firms have benefited from either establishing Asian desks, partnering with Asian based firms, or having gone and set themselves up in Asia. They will not have done that without seeing the potential and having made that move out of their own locale. Having tasted overseas generated income, they seem to want more. It’s an active progression.

China Briefing: The Leading Edge Alliance is one of the world’s largest accounting networks with member firms around the world. How influential has Dezan Shira & Associates been in introducing opportunities in Asia to them?

KKR: They were one of the first firms that came to the US and talked coherently and clearly about the China opportunity, and then about India and the rest of Asia, and kept on doing so and are still doing that today. They saw opportunities no one else had really grasped, and shared those with us. Dezan Shira are true pioneers. They are very well regarded throughout our network.

Leading Edge Alliance logo

The Leading Edge Alliance, annual revenues of US$3 billion. Dezan Shira & Associates are the organization’s primary China practice.

China Briefing: What do you see as the main considerations US professional services firms have when seeking to partner with firms in other countries?

KKR: English language is pretty much paramount, both spoken and written. The clarity of procedures and an ability to deliver on time are also important. That can be harder for some Asian firms who aren’t quite as well developed as the US professional services firms tend to be, but there’s been a huge improvement in capabilities.

China Briefing: What do you see as the main barriers to US firms and businesses investing in Asia?

KKR: American businesses can sometimes be rather sedentary and comfortable where they are. So, sometimes, they are a bit slow to come to emerging markets, which is an American malaise in general. The Leading Edge Alliance, with the help of firms such as Dezan Shira, has been successful educating our firms on the opportunities that are available outside of the US.

China Briefing: The global economy is undergoing structural changes, with the movement of potential influence away from the United States. Do you see Asia as a region that American businesses should be fast tracking in terms of getting additional growth and profitability into their US balance sheets?

KKR: The US is going through a period of transition now, but that will pass and settle down. It’s not been the first time there have been political changes in the US, and it won’t be the last, we’re a democracy and sometimes democracies get shaken up a little, it’s how they work sometimes. As for Asia, absolutely our network is very actively involved, and we’re all very excited about the potential. We think it is essential for our member firms to engage in and with Asia.


China Briefing is published by Asia Briefing, a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. We produce material for foreign investors throughout Asia, including ASEAN, India, Indonesia, Russia, the Silk Road, and Vietnam. For editorial matters please contact us here, and for a complimentary subscription to our products, please click here.

Dezan Shira & Associates is a full service practice in China, providing business intelligence, due diligence, legal, tax, IT, HR, payroll, and advisory services throughout the China and Asian region. For assistance with China business issues or investments into China, please contact us at or visit us at

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