United front will help us through this crisis

Gavin Hinks, AccountancyAge

The mortgage markets go wrong in the US and suddenly there’s a credit crisis
across most of the major economies of the world.

Likewise accountancy firms have become increasingly global – and we’re not
just talking about the Big Four.

Many firms have followed the example and constructed networks linking
independent firms around the world and attempting to serve the major economic

In this issue Michael McDonnell, CEO of Grant Thornton International,
predicts that not only will networks grow, but that independent firms within
them will merge, to form large cross-border accountancy businesses. The drive
for scale will go beyond national borders, firms will integrate, streamline as a
result and be able to provide even better service. That’s the idea anyway.

And there appears to be significant drivers for that because, as we also
highlight in this issue, there is concern about where the competition,
especially for audit services, is going to come from. John Griffiths-Jones of
KPMG says it could go offshore and there will be no issue with quality. And,
given that accountancy is based on talent, the opportunities here in the UK
could be drastically reduced.

Accountancy stands on the brink of a new and challenging era in which
competition increases significantly and the UK sector will have to go through
considerable effort – either through new structures or offering new services –
to hold their own against energetic, expert and possibly cheaper offshore
newcomers. Place these developments against a potential global downturn and its
clear that the business landscape is more challenging than ever.

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