The 15th largest US firm has agreed to exclusively adopt
the Baker Tilly International brand.

Virchow Krause & Company has been an independent
member of Baker Tilly since 1999. The firm has 1,300 staff across
offices in Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and the state of
Wisconsin.

Virchow Krause is the largest US firm in the Baker Tilly network
and reported fee income of $202 million in its most recent
financial year. The firm is also one of the fastest growing in the
US, increasing its revenue from $28 million to $202 million in just
ten years.

Virchow Krause chief executive Tim Christen told the
International Accounting Bulletin the unanimous decision
to adopt the Baker Tilly name was motivated by a desire to
globalise the firm’s image.

“Today the struggle we face with our clients is we seek to help
them in a different venue, be it a different state in the US or
different country,” he said.

“We need to overcome the brand implications of using a firm with
a different name. This serves as a clarifier, Baker Tilly
International is a global network and the firms are able to work
seamlessly throughout the world.”

Christen believes more large independent US firms will adopt the
branding of global accountancy networks. He said the large regional
firms that choose to remain independent run the risk of being left
behind.

“There are a limited number of global brands of the quality that
a large firm would want to accept as their own brand. Baker Tilly
is one of those but there are not an unlimited number,” Christen
said. “The middle market service firms behind [the Big Four] will
enjoy an advantage over regional local firms that do not have a
global brand. This is an opportunity for Baker Tilly as a network
to firmly establish itself in that strata of firms. I expect to see
a few other networks try to do this too.”

Virchow Krause will establish a timeframe for the name change
once it has been approved by US regulators. The re-brand will be
supported by a massive marketing and advertising exercise in the US
markets Virchow Krause serves. As the firm has a 77-year history,
Christen accepts there are risks the re-brand could impact upon the
goodwill established by the Virchow Krause brand. He said
management would need to ensure the transition is smooth.

Baker Tilly International has more than 20 independent member
firms in the US. Christen said Virchow Krause adopting exclusive
Baker Tilly naming rights had caused apprehension, but not tension
among other member firms.

“I believe there is a common belief and understanding among all
the network members that this move to strengthen the Baker Tilly
brand will be beneficial to all network members,” he said. “I think
there is the potential for some Baker Tilly independent member
firms to merge [with Virchow Krause]. There is no compulsion for
firms to do that but that could be an opportunity.”

Baker Tilly International chief executive and president Geoff
Barnes said Virchow Krause was a logical choice to wave the Baker
Tilly flag as it is the largest member firm in the country. He said
there has not been any fallout from other disgruntled US members
and the branding will not conflict with Baker Tilly North America –
an internal umbrella term used for the group of member firms in the
US, Canada, and the Caribbean.

Arvind Hickman