RSM International member firms will focus on a more unified
approach in the Middle East as part of a regional strategy over the
next two years.

Managing partners from RSM representatives in Egypt, Morocco,
Tunisia, Kuwait, Jordan, Iran, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the
United Arab Emirates (UAE) attended a two-day meeting earlier this
month to discuss the region’s business challenges, increasing needs
of international clients and growth opportunities.

Dahman & Co managing partner Dahman Awadh Dahman said: “The
Middle East is a hugely exciting and fertile economic region and we
need to be able to effectively and completely service our clients
who have interests here. We’re looking forward to hosting
colleagues from our RSM affiliates, and to further cementing our
working relationships in this region in order to provide the
highest quality of services to our clients.”

RSM International chief executive Jean Stephens is travelling to
Bahrain in the coming weeks to explore opportunities to expand
membership in the region.

In particular, she said the network is focused on the four major
markets of the UAE , Bahrain, Egypt and Kuwait. Current clients in
the region range from oil giant Shell and car manufacturer Peugeot
in Tunisia to investment firm Al Daman Securities in the UAE and
CACBank in Yemen.

“It’s a developing region for us. We’ve had some good firms be a
part of RSM for many years. They are progressing on our alignment
with RSM methodology and have all undergone due diligence
inspections. It’s an area of the world that we look at and say
there is great opportunity for development, certainly in the UAE,”
Stephens said, while adding that RSM is seeking to increase the
size of its representation in Dubai. “We have more and more clients
that are looking at the Middle East in terms of what they can do or
if they have interest there. Some clients are [interested in] infrastructure, privatisation, that type of work.”

Stephens said RSM already has a large and well-established firm in
Egypt and another member in Kuwait that is “larger than some of the
Big Four”. New destinations on the RSM radar include Oman and the
rapidly developing Libya.

“Our approach is always focused first on quality and then size is
an issue because you have to have size to service some of the
opportunities and then have credibility within the market,” she
explained. Stephens told IAB although the network remains
committed to its current member firms, there are some areas in the
Middle East that require larger representation.

On the strategy front, RSM is focused on ensuring all member firms
adopt RSM International methodology and present a unified approach
to the market. “We are continuing to focus on how firms can share
within the region to bring them closer together for common
training. For example, the leveraging of what we have within the
region so we’re going to market as one group. That’s a challenge in
the Middle East because the cultures are also different, which is
something I’ve learned in my trips over there. You have some
countries that are very, very wealthy and some that are not at all
wealthy,” Stephens said.

“We’re going down the road of setting up a more formalised regional
structure where we will have a regional director. We do right now
have RSM Middle East and we go to market as that, but we will soon
have some collective resources. It won’t be a separate legal entity
at this time though I do think it makes sense for the Middle East
to [eventually] have a legal separate entity.”

Setting up a separate legal entity in the Middle East region could
become a focus of the network in two years, Stephens said.

Arvind Hickman