RSM International has strengthened its representation in the
Middle East with the addition of a new member firm in Tel Aviv,
Israel. Shiff, Hazenfratz & Co becomes the network’s first and
only Israeli firm.

lManaging partner Reuven Shiff, who is also the
president of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in
Israel, said: “We decided to join RSM because we feel RSM’s
position in the world suits our position here in Israel. We have a
really strong firm and, with the international mid-tier network
capabilities of RSM, we hope we can gain new clients.”

Shiff, Hazenfratz & Co has 130 staff, including seven
partners. The firm provides audit, tax and advisory services, as
well as a specialist economic and business consulting department,
which covers all aspects of M&A services. The firm has also
created a practice that provides specialised services to public
sector clients.

“The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) issued
international public sector accounting standards and the Israeli
government was, I believe, among the first that decided to issue
financials for the state of Israel following the standards issued
by IFAC,” Shiff said.

“We saw this as a great opportunity to work for the Israeli
government and use the expertise that can maybe be used in other
countries should they decide to implement the same standards. There
are another four or five firms that do the auditing and preparing
of financial statements for the ministries here in Israel because
obviously it is a lot of work.”

Climbing the ladder

Shiff believes that joining RSM International could help elevate
the firm’s market position. “In Israel, they rank firms by the
number of employees and not by turnover because turnover is not
revealed in this country,” he said.

“Obviously the Big Four are at the top, then BDO, Grant Thornton
and we are roughly next… There are over 2,000 practices here in
this small country of Israel, from the Big Four to the sole
practitioners, so we are very pleased with our ranking. We hope
that moving forward with RSM International we can be ranked in an
even higher position.”

Although there is ongoing tension surrounding the Israel and
Palestine peace process, Shiff believes this has had no effect on
the Israeli economy, and is unlikely to have an impact on the
future of RSM in the country. However, he said the firm does not
collaborate with many firms in neighbouring countries.

“Amazingly enough, the economy in Israel over the past four
years has been the best ever,” Shiff said. “The government budget
has a surplus, inflation is very low and the gross growth was
nearly around 5 percent per year in the last four years. Although
we have peace with the surrounding areas such as Egypt and Jordan,
we do not collaborate with any other Middle Eastern country, apart
from our good relationship with Cyprus.

“Even right now with the sensitive situation of the Gaza strip
and missiles striking, it does not really affect our economy.
Admittedly, the situation with Lebanon two years ago may have
slowed the economy for about four or five months but the economy
picked straight back up again, as though nothing was
happening.”

Shiff, Hazenfratz & Co aims to grow by between 15-20 percent
over the next year. The firm plans to expand its international
engagements and strengthen the tax department by recruiting more
international tax experts. It also hopes to strengthen its market
share of clients that list on various stock exchanges around the
world.

“The hi-tech market in Israel is very strong and a lot of
companies are trying to go onto the Nasdaq and have an IPO there.
We believe that if we can offer them an alternative to the Big
Four, which we definitely can, then these companies may come to us
as well,” Shiff said.

Melanie White