Jeremy Newman will step down as BDO International chief executive at the end of September to pursue a career outside of professional services. Former BDO Netherlands managing partner Martin van Roekel has been appointed Newman’s successor.
In an exclusive interview, Newman told International Accounting Bulletin his decision to leave BDO International after completing a single three-year term was motivated by a desire to try “something different”.
Newman said although he remains passionate about the profession and his current role as chief executive, he misses the client contact that he had while working as managing partner of BDO’s UK firm.
“I have met some great people particularly meeting governments and regulators; it has been fascinating, but not entirely real. I would like a job which is a bit more grounded and a bit more real,” he said.
Newman said he is unsure about his next career move but it was “highly unlikely” he would ever return to the accounting profession.
“Why would I stay in that area and not stay in my current role? There might be opportunities available to me in this business, but it’s not really what I am looking for as I want to do something different,” he said.
The Newman era
Since becoming BDO International chief executive in 2008, BDO has increased global revenues by 3% in a period when most firms, including the Big Four, suffered revenue contractions due to the global financial crisis.
There has also been a solid growth in headcount with BDO adding 2,928 partners and staff in the past three years.
Newman said the growth of the BDO’s business in China is the highlight of his tenure.
“The business we had in China when I took on this job had less then 800 people in four different and differently branded businesses. We now have in mainland China more then 6,000 people in a single branded business growing at a rapid rate, easily the largest domestic business in China and in a couple of years it will become larger than the Big Four firms,” he said.
“China perhaps stands out above all else as a real demonstration of our ability to do things that matches the best in the profession and perhaps more then anything else it has my personal fingerprints all over it.”
Other highlights under his watch include rolling out global common branding and a single audit methodology across the network.
Newman will be remembered for his passion for the profession and as a leader that is never short of an opinion in an industry that tends to be media shy.
BDO on track
Newman said he confident BDO can continue to prosper under van Roekel’s leadership.
“There are great opportunities out there for businesses like BDO. The EC green paper and the House of Lords inquiry will open doors to us but we have to walk through them. We have to sees the moment,” he said.
Roeke stood down as managing partner of BDO Netherlands in 2009 when Newman appointed him to BDO’s global leadership team. He was the first global head of network development and chief executive for Europe.
“I intend to continue the same pace of development and level of activity set in motion and trust that I can contribute to the further growth and success of the BDO network,” van Roekel said.
“It is important that the change process which has substantially promoted the positive development of BDO throughout the world is continued.”