I conducted an interview with another CFO recently and asked him the same question about the importance of an accounting firm’s brand. Unlike the last post, this chap has given a qualified YES – the brand is important. For the time being I will withhold his name but suffice to say his organisation is big, complex and has high expectations of its external accounting firm(s)
In professional services it’s always the individual it comes down to in terms of expertise and the quality of the work that you get, but you rely on the professionalism of the brand of the overall organisation as to the resources that they send to you. So at the end of the day it’s very important, but it comes back the integrity of the organisation and the professionalism of those organisations. If we were looking to appoint a new auditor, for argument’s sake, and I was aware of a local audit firm that’s just gone through some problems with some audit clients, I would probably tend to steer away from them because I would feel that their processes had broken down somewhere that meant that I was taking on trouble by adopting them and therefore I’d go elsewhere. So, their quality through their professionalism is very important at the end of the day, because you’re paying for that expertise, you’re paying for those services, and in most cases you want something that you can rely on to take to other parties – not just internally – therefore that name has to stand up in front of those other parties that you’re using that work for as well.
They (the external accounting firm) ultimately have to present our accounts to their investors, which are institutional investors, and they wouldn’t be happy if someone was being used that they weren’t familiar with in most cases I would imagine. For purposes of quality assurance with other parties that we would use that information for the brand is absolutely important.
Size does matter for some clients. That being said the individual must be up to the task of delivering a consistent & sound service that provides an effective outcome for the client.
See you next post,