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October 22, 2009

BDO name change hits regulatory snag

By Nicholas Moody

BDO International is encountering teething problems simplifying the network’s branding as the name change comes up against some regulatory barriers.

On 1 October, BDO International firms in 110 countries committed to adopt the global trading name ‘BDO’. Approximately 20 percent of the network has made the change, while the remainder will complete the transition by 1 January 2010.

BDO Unicon, or BDO Russia as it is hoping to be known, is one firm that will have to wait until 1 January. This is because using ‘Russia’ in a company title has legal restrictions, so the firm needs to be granted special permission by its government to include the country’s name.

The change will result in the firm maintaining its local name, Unicon, for its non-core businesses, such as accounting outsourcing and consultancy, and using the new name for its core audit business.

BDO Unicon’s international liaison partner Alexander Verenkov said the government is asking the firm to do more work for the state and it is important that the firm identifies not only with the international community but also Russian business.

“The name is something that can explain not only the international membership but can also explain to the state and state-owned enterprises [our Russian connections],” Verenkov said.

BDO International chief executive Jeremy Newman said where the law does not permit it, a firm’s statutory name will remain, but he imagines this will apply to less than 15 firms worldwide.

He said the brand change is trying to deliver several messages to the market, including addressing competition and choice.

“I think changing our name and updating our visual identity gives finance directors or chairs of audit committees [of prospective clients] a chance to say ‘hang on a minute maybe this is a different BDO to the one that I remember’,” Newman said.

“This is not a group of corner shops pretending to be a supermarket this is the real McCoy you are getting here.”

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