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May 31, 2009

Baker Tilly Virchow Krause branding a milestone

Virchow Krause’s adoption of the Baker
Tilly brand this month is an important milestone for Baker Tilly
International – the network will now have a strong brand presence
in the US accounting market.

Previously, all Baker Tilly International
member firms went to market using established regional brands. This
is common in the US where most firms outside the top seven are
regional players rather than national firms.

The decision to allow exclusive naming rights
to Virchow Krause, the largest Baker Tilly International US member
firm, will help raise the profile of the Baker Tilly brand in the
US, according to Baker Tilly International chief executive and
president Geoff Barnes.

“There have been occasions where we haven’t
picked up a multinational client because we haven’t maximised our
brand in America. That will change now,” Barnes said.

“I see members winning larger, and inevitably
more international clients and that will benefit everyone.”

Virchow Krause reported fee income of $216
million in the year to 31 May 2008. The firm is also one of the
fastest growing in the US, increasing its revenue from $28 million
to $202 million in just ten years.

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In February, Virchow Krause chief executive
Tim Christen said global branding will provide middle market firms
just behind the Big Four with an advantage over regional local
firms that do not have a global brand. “This is an opportunity for
Baker Tilly International as a network to firmly establish itself
in that strata of firms,” he said.

The firm has been trading as Baker Tilly (a
trading name of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause) since 1 June. It will
invest a substantial amount of money over the next few years into
marketing the new brand.

The branding shift is a departure from a
previous strategy that saw the creation of an umbrella group –
Baker Tilly North America.

“Baker Tilly North America was a vehicle
created to raise awareness of the Baker Tilly brand in the North
American marketplace,” Barnes explained.

“The reality is that to maximise the brand,
one firm carrying the flag of the Baker Tilly name is more
effective than an umbrella structure.”

Not all of the Baker Tilly International firms
welcomed the branding re-think and three firms, Rehmann Group,
Miller Cooper, and Katz, Sapper & Miller, recently left to join
rival network Nexia International. Those firms competed head on
with Baker Tilly Virchow Krause.

“Our strategy is to admit strong, top quality
firms in those geographic locations where we are either not
presently located or our existing member firms are not looking to
expand into,” Barnes said.

“This strategy is one reason why the network
has rejected applications from approximately 25 firms in the US in
the past four years.”

Baker Tilly International’s coverage of the US
(see below) is very strong in the eastern states. The
network is looking for firms in the cities of Phoenix, Denver, San
Diego, Louisiana and Boise.

Arvind Hickman

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