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