Baker Tilly Merali’s, a firm that
operates in Kenya, Zambia and the United Arab Emirates, has
established a new firm in Sri Lanka.

The three-partner firm will offer audit, accountancy, taxation,
financial advisory and management consultancy services.

The addition of the new Sri Lankan practice grows Baker Tilly
Merali’s total workforce to about 250 staff, including 15 partners.
The firm predicted its fee income in the 2008 financial year should
reach about £2.5 million ($4.9 million).

Chief executive PK Merali said the main reason for entering Sri
Lanka is to service a strong public-sector base. He also said the
move was inevitable due to current work interests there.

“We have a very strong tax base in Sri Lanka. We are already
servicing from the UK some rather large Sri Lankan clients whose
interests are outside Sri Lanka and they are very happy with us,”
he added.

“The country has good growth areas, not only in the private
sector but also in large family businesses.

“One of the biggest reasons for our choice is because the
manager of the firm worked with me in the 1980s. We have always
made sure that we have kept in touch with the managers and we work
in assignments with each other.

“We never just go blindly and always insist on having an
association with somebody first.”

Merali said the firm sent its Sri Lankan partners to train at
the Baker Tilly International base in London. The move was only
finalised once a certain standard had been reached by partners.

“We actually sent our team to Sri Lanka twice to train the staff
there also,” he added.

Baker Tilly Merali’s plans to expand into other regions,
including the Middle East and Uganda. According to Merali, there is
a lot of growth potential in the Middle East beyond Dubai, where
the firm already has a presence. He said many existing clients are
based in Uganda, so establishing a presence there would be a
sensible choice.

The firm also hopes to establish a ‘sub-network’ outside of
Baker Tilly International. Merali explained that the organisation
at present consists of a number of branches without a particular

“What we want, wherever we are going, is for there to be a
common association [to the firm’s brand],” he said.

Another highlight for the firm in the past year was the Kenyan
branch securing internal audit work for the Kenyan government.

“This is something that has never been heard of outside the Big
Four,” Merali said. “We are extremely proud of our whole practice
and I am sure the addition of Sri Lanka will continue to reap many
more opportunities.”

Melanie White and Carolyn Canham