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March 1, 2010updated 29 Apr 2022 12:27pm

Accounting network leadership to shift East?

Asian firms will provide greater
leadership and influence within global networks and associations as
organisations invest heavily in fast-growing Asian economies,
according to accounting network leaders.RSM CEO Jean Stephens

Asia-Pacific was widely reported as the
fastest-growing region for most networks and associations surveyed
in this year’s International Accounting Bulletin world survey.

Economic expansion has fuelled strong demand
across the region and this has led to significant investment in
recent years from the Big Four and mid-tier, in particularly in
China and India.

For example, Ernst & Young (E&Y)
reported more than 40 percent growth in China and in the past four
years, has pumped $100 million into emerging economies, many of
which are in the Asia-Pacific region.

This publication has been tracking the
mid-tier’s highly-publicised push into China by partnering with
large domestic firms, such as BDO International’s affiliation with
Shu Lun Pan.

The Big Four, Grant Thornton, RSM
International, Crowe Horwath International and Kreston
International have all developed their Chinese representation in
the past two years and most of these organisations are also
expanding rapidly in India and South East Asia.

Asian representation low

Although network and association leaders
realise the importance of investment in the Far East, this is not
always reflected within governance boards and leadership teams at
all global accountancy organisations, which are traditionally
dominated by Europeans and Americans.

At PricewaterhouseCoopers, 17 percent of the
network’s global board is based in Asia, Grant Thornton
International’s board of governors has 20 percent Asia-Pacific
representation and KPMG has 21 percent. E&Y has area managing
partners for its three Asia-Pacific regions but no global managing
partners within the region.

It is important to consider that although
Asia-Pacific is a hot region of activity and investment, relatively
it still produces far less revenue than Europe and the US and in
most countries is less developed in technical expertise.

Asia-Pacific growing in importance

RSM International chief executive Jean
Stephens believes strong representation in the Asia-Pacific is now
critical for networks and this will eventually be reflected in
global leadership teams.

“Like the US, if you are not strong in the
Asia-Pacific region right now it’s a challenge in terms of
international clients – there’s a lot of activity there,” she
said.

“We have a board that’s representative of our
membership so as the members grow it has to be reflected on the
governance as that is how a network model works. We can’t dictate
to firms what they do. They need to be represented well in
governance and that is important from a building perspective.”

Kreston International executive director Jon
Lisby agreed that the balance of boards will shift East.

Baker Tilly International chief operating
officer Paul Ginman said that although leadership influence may be
increasing in the East, the profession is still developing.

“They are still in the learning phase and
require input on the implementation of international audit and
accounting standards. They are absorbing this information rapidly
and building a profession around it,” he said.

 

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