Grant Thornton International could shed a
significant portion of its German workforce to embrace single firm
representation as the network has opted to ditch its current
federation approach to coverage.

The firm Warth & Klein will operate as
Grant Thornton’s sole branded member firm from October with the
four other current federation firms leaving the network by mid-next

Warth & Klein offers the full range of
audit, tax and advisory services with 56 partners and more than 450
staff in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt – Wiesbaden, Stuttgart,
Aix-La-Chapelle, Munich and Viersen. The firm, which will trade as
Grant Thornton Warth & Klein, plans to open new offices in
Berlin and Hamburg later this year.

In the International Accounting
most recent Germany survey, the network ranked
second among the networks and associations of independent firms,
reporting fee income of €134m ($170m) in the year to 30 September
2009. Grant Thornton’s Germany federation of firms has a workforce
of 1,271 staff across 16 offices.

The sheer reduction in workforce indicates
Grant Thornton is likely to lose its market position but by how
much remains unclear.

Federation v single firm

In Germany, it is common for mid-tier networks
to use a federation approach in representation where several
independent firms represent a global network. The shift to a single
firm approach will provide the perception, rightly or wrongly, that
Grant Thornton’s German coverage is more closely knit than under
the federation approach.

It will be interesting to see how Grant
Thornton Warth & Klein manages to claw back clients and
coverage potentially lost in key cities, such as Berlin and Hamburg
– Germany’s largest metropolitans. A phased approach is certain to
be deployed to minimise any sudden drop-offs in coverage.

Warth & Klein managing partner
Klaus-Günter Klein said the step is a significant part of the
firm’s plan to develop its national and international

“With the support of Grant Thornton we will be
able to grow our core business within the German market and offer
our clients, partners and staff, more opportunities to work across
international borders,” he said.