Network Russell Bedford’s fee income almost reached $0.5bn in 2018, an 18.2% growth year-on-year.

The growth was partly driven by the introduction of over 20 new members to the network over the year from across the globe.

The network said particular focus had been placed on developing the Middle East and Africa, and that fees had grown in these regions by 24% and 38% respectively. It saw 17% growth in Asia Pacific, while Europe and North America were both up 10% each.

Speaking to the IAB, Russell Bedford CEO Stephen Hamlet emphasised the importance of the 35% increase in the referrals from across the network: “Our referrals have increased due to continued globalisation 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.

He added that an increased need for tax advice and consultancy was a global phenomenon, pushing growth. He added: “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.

Aim for 2019

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Despite 10% growth in the North America over 2018, that region remains a priority for 2019, and Hamlet acknowledged some gaps in the US and Canada still remained.

He added: “We will also have more sub-regional and specialist meetings next year, as our firms become more specialised and work to promote their niches.

“We will also be reviewing our subscription policy to ensure it is fair and can accommodate firms from some of the more developing economies that are struggling.

“Regionalisation is also important. As we continue to grow so much, we need more support and particular focus in regional areas. We will be looking to give more responsibility to our regional boards.

“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, Hamlet said: “I will personally 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.”