On the money with Gavin Hinks

Gavin Hinks, AccountancyAge

Anyone who knows anything about managing partner Tony Stockdale knows that
though he may be based in Telford, he is a man with high ambitions.

That much was clear when we had lunch at Gordon Ramsey’s at Claridges. He
wanted to impress, sure, but he also wanted to learn. He wanted to know as much
or if not more about my business – selecting and producing news – as he wanted
to tell me all about Bentley Jennison.

As simplistic as that sounds it was an important indicator of someone who was
in the process of transforming the organisation he worked. Most managing
partners would have expected a captive journalist to spend lunch listening to
why they were the best and why we should be writing about them.

Stockdale, as I remember, spent very little time talking that kind of shop.
Like I say, he wanted to listen more than he wanted to speak.

Now he has the RSM banner to wave. Full marks for taking advantage of a great
opportunity. Stockdale now has his eye on becoming the UK’s number seven firm.
Odd ambition that, but I suspect this is more about income threshold (£200m),
than any intrinsic value in being seventh.

Growing to £200m is a tall order, especially from current levels of around
£64m. That can only mean acqusitions and a huge round of recruitment.

The RSM relationship doesn’t look likely to bring that level of growth and
can’t be expected to be the banker here. Remember Robson Rhodes. The firm had
the RSM tag but, while flirting with considerable debt, still felt its future
lay in merger with Grant Thornton. Clearly an international network will only
take you so far.

Gavin Hinks is editor of Accountancy Age

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