Dezan Shira & Associates global network billing reaches US$1.6billion in 2007

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Big Four staff moving to larger boutique firms as industry focus shifts

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 22 – The Leading Edge Alliance firms yesterday revealed their total billing for professional services globally reached US$1.6 billion for 2007, an increase of 21 percent over 2006 figures. Dezan Shira & Associates, the Alliance’s largest Asian practice announced individual record billing for China and new revenue sources from India and Vietnam. The network is now the 12th largest network of firms internationally, following PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and KPMG in the top four places.

The alliance also increased its global membership base to some 220 firms with new members in Eastern Europe and Africa. “The trend for mid-cap companies now is to look for value for money firms with a more personal layer of services,” said Chris Devonshire-Ellis, Senior Partner of Dezan Shira & Associates at the Alliance’s annual January Managing partners meeting in Las Vegas.

“While the Big Four continue to dominate the global auditing and professional services industry, signs are there that movement away from these firms is increasing and this creates great opportunities for alliances such as Leading Edge and more localized firms such as Dezan Shira & Associates” said Devonshire-Ellis. “CEOs and CFOs are increasingly demanding and require a better level of personal service only truly locally integrated firms can provide. Tax and legal advice and services increasingly require a deep understanding of regional dynamics and the Leading Edge member firms have the advantage over the larger global firms in being able to provide this.”

That also seems to be borne out in staffing of LEA member firms, and a sharp rise in the United States of qualified accounting professionals now leaving the industry. With Big Four firms commonly insisting on 1,000 hours of overtime – and a large percentage of that spent traveling, staff are getting burnt out. LEA members all reported an increase in personnel joining them from Big Four, a sign that the professional staff with the financial services and accounting industries are looking for more quality positions with the larger boutique firms that offer competitive salaries yet a better working environment.

Devonshire-Ellis: “Increasingly our client base at Dezan Shira is becoming more corporate and we are competing and winning business from the global firms. That has to do with quality of service, responsiveness and a better understanding of the grass roots situation in local markets. This trend has been reported from our member firms in the United States and Europe as well as here in Asia and we must work hard to provide a truly viable alternative to the global reach of the dominant practices. Local knowledge is becoming a key issue for professional services and it is now being recognized by international CFOs as a requirement when looking at hiring professional services firms. It is our key strength and one we can use to challenge the dominant players when it comes to competing for quality business.”

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