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August 28, 2008

Dutch firm plans globalisation

The new KPMG Netherlands chairman has indicated that consolidation could be an important step forward for the Dutch firm in order to globalise operations. Herman Dijkhuizen told the International Accounting Bulletin that although there are no public plans to merge with KPMG Europe, the issue of globalisation is still fresh in the minds of partners at the firm.

Dijkhuizen said one of his goals as chairman is to expand the firm’s operations geographically. He noted globalisation as a important to the future success of the firm.

Herman Dijkhuizen, KPMG Netherlands Herman Dijkhuizen, KPMG Netherlands

“Consolidation and especially globalisation is a key driver for success within our business,” Dijkhuizen said. “That gives a lot of opportunities but also some challenges. I can’t tell you if we will join KPMG Europe ‘yes’ or ‘no’, because we are going through a process with our partners to look at our opportunities, especially looking from our strategic angle to become stronger in the Netherlands. We are also looking at all our opportunities and it is very clear that [consolidation] is what you will see in our industry.”

KPMG partners in the Netherlands narrowly voted against joining KPMG firms in Germany, the UK and Switzerland to form a European firm last September.

At the time, former KPMG Netherlands leader Ben van der Veer noted that merger discussions were by no means over and the proposal could be revisited in due course. These latest comments by Dijkhuizen highlight a clear strategic desire for the firm to globalise to some degree.

Taking the helm

Dijkhuizen officially becomes chairman of KPMG Netherlands in October. He succeeds van der Veer, who has been the chair for more than three decades.

Over the next few years Dijkhuizen said he will help the firm maximise opportunities with current clients and secure new leads. This will involve enhancing KPMG’s profile in the marketplace and building niche service capabilities.

“I have a clear strategy and ambitious goals. We will be focusing on specialist parts of the industry and aiming to make sure that specialisation is a key driver for success…. I especially hope to grow in advisory,” he said.

As chairman, Dijkhuizen noted he will take a keen interest in KPMG’s human resources and developing management – areas he regards as essential to the firm’s evolution.

“I have decided that I will take on the human resources responsibility because people are key to our profession,” Dijkhuizen said. “I want to make sure that our employees are happy and we have the right people. Without the right people, we will never do as well as we endeavour to… It also makes it easier as KPMG chairman to safeguard KPMG’s culture and values. Then you can think about innovation, thought leadership, initiatives and the constant development of the business.”

Dijkhuizen joined KPMG Netherlands in 1979, a period he remembers “as if it were yesterday”. He became partner in 1994, a board member in 2006 and the firm’s vice-chairman last year.

“I was contracted to go to KPMG Germany for four years from 1992 to 1996. It was there where I was appointed to partner of audit,” Dijkhuizen explained.

“During those years I specialised in audit work for international companies. I was doing international work, overseas work and also work for financial services. I also specialised in Dutch corporate client work within Germany.”

Dijkhuizen returned to the Netherlands in 2006 where he spent some time working as director for learning and development at the firm. He added: “I did a lot of client work at that time. I didn’t do any audit work.”

KPMG Netherlands is the third largest firm in the country. In the most recent International Accounting Bulletin’s survey of the Dutch profession, KPMG Netherlands reported fee income of €681 million ($1 billion) in the year ended June 2007. The firm has 2,694 staff, 251 partners and 17 offices.

Melanie White

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