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April 30, 2008

Bishop reveals blueprint for Nexia in Europe

Smith & Williamson assurance and business services director Mike Bishop has been appointed European chairman of Nexia International.

His main roles are to help member firms execute network-wide strategy and improve consistency in standards and practices across the continent. Bishop explained: “[Part of the role is about] helping some of the newer countries to get up to scratch, not only on technical issues, like IFRS and International Standards on Auditing, but soft skills like networking and business building. For example, the European board looks at a range of issues including education and training, quality coverage in referrals and marketing.

“A good example of what we’re doing now within Europe is looking at the education and training side. We now run three courses for young managers, young leaders and also a course that we’re entitling ‘leading international assignments.’ This is basically aimed at providing high-quality learning development for the top people within all our European member firms that they otherwise may not have had access to.”

Bishop joined Smith & Williamson in 2000 and has been regularly involved in functions at Nexia International. He said the formal structure of Nexia’s European network was established a year ago. Prior to this, European matters were dealt with by a sub-board under the Nexia International board.

Over the next few years, Bishop said Nexia will focus on ensuring it has the right level of representation across Europe: “We need to build our capability in some of the Eastern European countries… Whether that means [member firms] making acquisitions in their own countries, or mergers in their own countries, to a large extent we will leave that to them because that’s a question for their practices as to how they grow in their own countries. However, we are also looking in the near term for some potential new member firms in Latvia, Slovenia and Lithuania.”

Bishop said the past year has been a challenge for Nexia International due to the large-scale merger with SC International. “The reality is that with any sizeable merger there will be challenges, especially in the early stages. It would be unrealistic to expect there not to be some. However, I’m extremely pleased with what is a real willingness by members to make this merger work. But obviously there may be one or two local issues that need to be resolved,” he commented.

“The key challenge for me now though is, being the combined size that we are, what does that mean for us in gaining access to other business opportunities that otherwise, individually, we may not have been able to get to. Leveraging that new critical mass to build our profile across Europe and internationally… will be the real test of the success of the merge.”

Melanie White

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