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April 30, 2008

RSM Middle East plans collaboration and expansion

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

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