Q&A: Forvis Mazars’ UK CEO on being the new disruptor on the block

Q&A: Forvis Mazars’ UK CEO on being the new disruptor on the block

Q&A: Forvis Mazars’ UK CEO on being the new disruptor on the block

It is not every day that a new player storms onto the global professional services scene with the gusto of a rock star. But that is precisely what happened when Forvis Mazars, a powerhouse formed of a two-firm network between Mazars and FORVIS, officially launched on June 3, 2024.With a projected $5 billion global network, Forvis Mazars is not just another partnership; it is the largest new entrant in the global rankings in decades.

Mazars, which ranked 10th in Accountancy Age’s 50+50 rankings in 2023, reported a fee income of €2.8 billion for the 2022/2023 financial year, marking a 13% increase compared to the previous year.

Mazars’ revenue split is approximately 43% from audit services and 57% from non-audit services​. Meanwhile FORVIS reported annual revenue of $1.7 billion for the fiscal year ending May 31, 2023. This revenue places FORVIS among the top accounting firms in the US.

Accountancy Age sat down with Phil Verity, UK CEO of Forvis Mazars, to dive into the strategic thinking behind this bold move and what it means for clients, employees, and the industry at large.

Strategic Rationale Behind the Partnership

FORVIS was formed of a strategic merger between BKD and Dixon Hughes Goodman (DHG) in 2022. This merger not only bolstered the firm’s financial standing but also expanded their reach, creating a significant US player and enabling the formation of the new global network with Mazars​.

When asked about the impetus behind Mazars partnering with FORVIS to form Forvis Mazars, Verity was clear.

“This was all about securing a top 10 global reach for our clients,” he began, his enthusiasm palpable. The partnership was not a spur-of-the-moment decision but a calculated move grounded in a shared vision.

“We’ve known each other for nearly 20 years. When DHG and BKD merged to become FORVIS, we quickly connected and realised we had two parts of a complete picture,” Verity explained.

But what was the primary driver?

Enhancing the firm’s presence in the United States was certainly a consideration—a strategic move born out of conversations with clients.

“We felt on the Mazars side that we could be much stronger in the US,” Verity noted. This sentiment was echoed on the Forvis side, where the need to take their brand global was equally pressing.

Together, they saw an opportunity to create a network that would not only fill this gap but also offer a unique alternative in the professional services market.

Advantages of the New Structure

In a landscape dominated by sprawling networks of numerous member firms, Forvis Mazars’ two-firm structure is a breath of fresh air.

“Everything is simpler when you’re dealing with two rather than 100 or 200,” Verity pointed out. This simplicity translates into several tangible advantages, particularly in terms of agility and decision-making.

Traditional global networks often grapple with the complexities of aligning dozens, if not hundreds, of separate legal entities. By contrast, Forvis Mazars can respond more swiftly and cohesively to client needs.

“We’re able to accelerate and develop our global business together very quickly,” Verity emphasised, underscoring the streamlined nature of their operations.

The two-firm model also fosters a closer cultural alignment and a stronger collaborative spirit.

“Because we’ve known each other for so long, we feel we’re already in a great place in terms of cultural alignment,” Verity said. This deep-rooted compatibility is expected to translate into better client service and a more unified global strategy.

The governance structure of Forvis Mazars will also be less complex than that of larger networks, reducing bureaucracy and enabling more efficient management. This simplicity translates into better resource allocation and more focused efforts on client service and strategic initiatives​.

Differentiated Service Offerings

Verity is confident that the new business model will allow Forvis Mazars to provide differentiated services in specific areas and industries.

“There are kind of two or three things that we really feel we want to be known for,” he said.

Chief among these is delivering an unmatched client experience and service excellence, a goal that both firms are deeply committed to.

Additionally, the partnership aims to develop industry and sector expertise, ensuring relevance for clients and offering greater mobility opportunities for their people.

Forvis Mazars is particularly focused on sectors like finance, technology, and healthcare, where their combined expertise and resources can provide significant value.

This focus allows them to tailor their services to meet the specific needs of these industries, offering insights and solutions that are both innovative and practical.

Career Development and Growth Opportunities

The partnership also promises significant benefits for professionals within Forvis Mazars.

“We want to ensure that our teams feel part of an international organisation and understand the global opportunities available to them,” Verity explained.

This commitment to internal talent development sets Forvis Mazars apart from other major firms, providing enhanced career mobility and growth opportunities.

Mazars has a strong track record of investing in its people, with comprehensive training programs and clear career progression paths.

The partnership with Forvis amplifies these opportunities, allowing employees to gain international experience and work on a diverse range of projects.

Phil Verity, UK CEO of Forvis Mazars

Integration Challenges and Industry Impact

Integrating the cultures and operations of two leading firms from different regions is no small feat, but Verity is optimistic.

“We’re on day one, and we’re thinking in terms of now, next, and later,” he said. The phased approach to integration ensures that both firms can align their strategies and operations effectively over time.

The unique two-firm model is set to disrupt the professional services industry by providing a modern, agile alternative to traditional networks.

“We believe there’s an opportunity to secure greater global reach for our existing clients and to offer a fantastic opportunity for clients that we’re not working with today,” Verity emphasised.

This strategic approach aims to not only enhance client service but also create a more dynamic and responsive organisation.

Communication and Market Strategy

Effective communication and marketing are crucial for the success of Forvis Mazars. The firm plans to proactively reach out to clients and potential clients, explaining the benefits of the new network.

“We’ve had an amazing response from clients who really understood it and see that it’s different,” Verity shared.

The marketing strategy includes leveraging digital channels, hosting events, and providing detailed information through various media outlets. This comprehensive approach ensures that the market is well-informed about the advantages and unique value proposition of Forvis Mazars.

The Role of Technology

While technology is not the sole driver of this partnership, it plays a significant role in enabling agility and collaboration within the network.

“Both firms have tech programs, and we’ll be committed to furthering and building on that,” Verity said. Integrating and optimizing tech stacks from both firms will enhance service delivery and support the overall strategy.

Forvis Mazars plans to invest in advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics to streamline operations and provide deeper insights for clients. These technological advancements will help the firm maintain its competitive edge.

Looking Ahead

The future looks promising for Forvis Mazars. In the coming year, the firm aims to validate its model by achieving strategic milestones and improving client and employee satisfaction.

Continuous feedback through client listening programs and employee engagement surveys will guide the partnership’s development and ensure alignment with its strategic goals.

“Whichever way you look at it, a year from now, you look back and think, are we in a better place? And the answer’s got to be yes,” Verity concluded confidently.

The journey is just beginning, and Forvis Mazars is well-positioned to make a lasting impact on the professional services industry.

 

 

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