Inspiring change for the women of RSM International

On March 8th 2014, millions of men and women around the world will take part in a range of events, campaigns and dialogues to celebrate the 103rd Global International Women’s Day. This year’s theme – inspiring change – reminds us that to create change and bring about greater equality, both in the work place and throughout our whole lives, requires us to, at the outset, inspire change.

President Barack Obama famously said that “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time” but that “we are the change that we seek.”

When I became CEO of RSM International in 2006, the media coverage suggested that I had ‘broken through another glass ceiling’ by becoming the first female CEO of a top 10 global accounting network. Indeed, through my experiences as CEO I hope I have been an example to all the women within RSM International that to reach such a role was both possible and attainable.

However, we are now nine years on and I have realised that real change cannot come from another person nor be enforced top-down. Instead it must be something that every individual seeks for themselves, man or woman. As such, here at RSM (and within the profession in general), we are working to inspire change by encouraging women to rise up and not wait for it to take place (be it in the form of quotas or promotions) but to actively work to seize their goals and the roles to which they aspire. To the men and women inspiring change around the world, you inspire us as an organisation and that is what truly breaks a glass ceiling. Happy International Women’s Day.

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Embracing the Mexican wave

The first in a series of RSM blogs on the MINT economies looks at Mexico where collaboration, investment and entrepreneurialism are reaping rewards.

I was recently reminded of the saying by American entrepreneur Jim Rohn, that “for every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward.” On 5th February, the rankings agency Moody’s upgraded Mexico’s sovereign debt, giving it an A-grade rating for the first time in history. In an article in the Financial Times, this promotion to A3 from Baa1 was said to be motivated by reforms taken by President Enrique Peña Nieto that were expected to “strengthen the country’s potential growth prospects and fiscal fundamentals”. In this it appears, Mexico is starting to prove Rohn’s point.

Mexico has embraced a number of free trade policies in recent decades and since taking office on December 1, 2012, President Peña Nieto has acted swiftly to pursue overdue landmark reform. Having suffered a large decrease in FDI in 2012 (down from US$23bn in 2011 to US$15bn), he has worked hard to push through reforms including in telecommunications, energy, banking and tax legislation. Now it seems that Mexico is the Latin American market that investors like most. As Forbes’ Chris Wright states “this is largely as a result of market-friendly reforms and a sense of national momentum under President Enrique Pena Nieto”.

Our own research shows that Mexico has been one of the world’s most entrepreneurial countries; it ranked sixth in our study of 35 countries’ net new business generation in the five years since 2007, with a compound annual growth rate of 6.6%, ahead of the BRICs (5.8%) and the G7 (0.8%).

Further collaboration and investment look to be on the cards for Mexico. Mexico’s Finance and Public Credit Secretariat says it expects the country to attract a record amount of foreign direct investment for 2013 (the first quarter of the year already attracted 40 percent of 2012’s total sum) as investors show greater confidence in the Mexican economy than they have in recent years. Only two weeks after Davos, Pepsico, Nestle and Cisco announced major investments that together totalled more than $7 billion in Mexico.

However, with this increase in FDI starting to bear fruit, it is worth remembering that Mexico’s real potential lies not with exports, but with its internal market of 117 million people that are relatively young. Though half the country are considered to be living below the breadline, by 2050 Goldman Sachs project Mexico’s GDP will have increased by 4%, to $63,149 per capita across a population of 142 million.

We at RSM are very pleased to see these developments and the benefits they are bringing to the people of Mexico. And we are proud that we are part of the growth story with our Mexican member firm, RSM Bogarín, realising strong growth year on year and supporting their clients, both home grown businesses and others who are doing business in Mexico, to realise their potential and bring real economic success. 

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China is tougher but remains a huge opportunity for growth

Much of the debate at Davos last week focused on  how multinationals should rebuild their growth strategies in response to the varying economic dynamics and rates of development experienced across the globe.

Whilst the outlook is a good for the UK, USA and Japan, concern over Europe’s need for economic reform remains – with some provocative commentators even questioning whether the region should be reclassified as an emerging market. Hopes for the newly named ‘MINT’ group (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) have got off to a rocky start, dashed by political instability in Turkey and deficit issues in Indonesia.  Belief in the BRIC economies is waning, as Brazil and India tackle massive deficits and investors fear the Chinese gold rush is over – as highlighted by The Economist’s cover story this week, ‘China loses its allure’.

There is no doubt that for global companies, making China (and many other parts of Asia)  work, is not easy.  The Economist points to a range of issues, not least rising costs, and references companies leaving (including Best Buy and Yahoo) and those (such as IBM) that face declining revenues.  And, of course, the economy is slowing, having reached 7.7% last year.

But there are many stories of continuing success, not least at RSM, where we are seeing near double digit growth in Asia-Pacific. This is driven to a large extent by China where,  following a June merger last year to create Ruihua China CPAs, the country’s third largest accounting based network is part of RSM.

The run-away growth rates of the last 30 years, instigated by Deng Xiaoping’s reforms, may become consigned to the history books but China is entering a new, arguably more sustainable, phase of growth.  The big picture is one of great optimism.  In China services are now bigger than manufacturing, middle class wealth and expenditure is growing, and the government’s revolutionary Third Plenum outlined last November set the stage for a slew of economic reforms that will provide incredible business opportunities for western multinationals to sell their ‘know-how’.  As Jim O’Neill highlighted in The Daily Telegraph this weekend, China eclipsed Japan to become the world’s second largest economy – bigger than France, Germany and Italy combined – by the end of 2013. That‘s two years earlier than he had expected.

China is looking west more than ever before.  Outbound growth, including through M&A and strategic acquisitions, is on the rise.  So too is the demand for western education.  According to the Huron Report, published during Davos week, Britain is now the favoured country for the secondary education of wealthy Chinese, with the US in second position.  The implications are that, in time, we could see a significant increase in Chinese executives with strategic positions in western organisations. That is very exciting.

China is a long-term game.  It’s more complex and tougher than before.  But optimism about the country should not be waning and the allure should not be lost. 

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Celebrating European Business Success

I would like to congratulate the 100 businesses from across Europe that have been announced as the finalists and Ruban d’Honneur recipients in the 2013/14 European Business Awards. The finalists were chosen from 375 National Champions by an esteemed panel of judges made up of European business and political leaders, academics and entrepreneurs. The recipients in each category will go forward to the next round consisting of face-to-face interviews with the judging panel who will decide on the overall category winners to be announced in May. These businesses are shining examples of European business success and I wish them the well in the next and final round.

In addition, my congratulations also go to the 30 companies who have been named as their country’s National Public Champion in the separate public vote. A staggering 70,980 votes were cast, more than double the amount of the previous programme – so this is an amazing achievement for the winners and the programme itself – it is great to see so many people engage with the awards. The second phase of public voting, which is now open and runs until 25th March, will see all 30 National Public Champions, representing 30 countries across Europe, compete to become the overall European Public Champion. The winners of this and each overall category winner will be announced at a Gala Event in Athens in May.

RSM is the main sponsor of the European Business Awards 2013/14 and sponsor of the RSM Entrepreneur of the Year category. We have been associated with this specific category since 2007 and as such I, as CEO, have had the privilege to meet and work with some of the past winners over the years – all of whom have shown great business acumen, knowledge and above all passion for their business – I have learned a lot from each of them. And so, my special congratulations go to this year’s RSM Entrepreneur of the Year finalists. They are:

Czech Republic Kofola ČeskoSlovensko a.s.
France Easybike
Greece Epsilon Net SA
Greece ONEX S.A.
Ireland AirSpeed Telecom
Italy Grom
Sweden Hövding Sverige AB
Turkey Helvacızade Food Pharma & Chemicals Inc.
United Kingdom The Gym Group

Visit to view the list of Ruban d’Honneurs and National Public Champions by country.

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How to be an extraordinary leader

In the second RSM video blog, we talk to Jack Black, founder of the Mindstore, one of the world’s leading personal development programmes. Jack, is recognised as one of Europe’s leading authorities on personal development and was a guest speaker at the RSM World Conference held in Amsterdam. In this video blog, Jack shares his thoughts on the four fundamental characteristics of being an extraordinary leader in these times of change and how creativity is all a state of mind. Watch more to find out the secret to being an extraordinary leader! Look out for more video-blog insights coming soon from RSM.

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January 13, 2014 · 9:54 am

Reflections on RSM in 2013

This is my final blog post for 2013 rounding off what has been a very good year for RSM and our member firms. Like every network we have had our challenges – but with most challenges come opportunities and 2013 was no different in this regards. However, as I share my reflections on 2013, I would like to concentrate on the positives we have seen this year.

In the beginning of the year, we welcomed all six region’s leaders to London for three full days of business development and strategies for growth planning. The RSM regional conference season (where relationships are strengthened to better allow us to serve clients) began in earnest with professionals in Asia Pacific gathering in Kuala Lampur, followed by the MENA team meeting in Marrakech and European MPs converging in Budapest. Finally, the Latin American regional conference in Cancun provided Bob Burdett’s closest colleagues the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to his service to RSM as he retires at the end of the year.

Another very successful and highly motivated group of professionals attended the 8th RSM Academy and another team of international tax experts widened their international tax client service skills at the first specialist RSM ITAX Academy – both Academies designed to equip our people with even more international expertise and talent.

Back to the beginning of the year, in March, we won the International Accounting Bulletin Award for Global Initiative of the Year for RSM World Day 2012. The judges said RSM World Day was the year’s most significant global initiative undertaken by a network or association.  This makes me very proud, and it was certainly a hard act to follow, but in September, RSM member firms celebrated RSM World Day for the second time with just as much vigour and passion as the first year. See the RSM World Day News to see the collection of wonderful stories about staff get-togethers, team-building and charity work done around the world.

And so on to the RSM World Conference in Amsterdam at the end of October – our first carbon neutral conference. Over 250 partners from across the globe attended our most successful conference to date – the theme was ‘#1 for clients’ and the level of conversations and engagement in delivering our promise to clients highlighted to me a confidence within our firms.

At the World Conference we had the chance to welcome the new member firms and correspondents that have joined us this year: Angola, Nigeria, Swaziland, Bangladesh, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Finland, France, Isle of Man, Sweden and Qatar.

Other achievements include launching our new intranet site for member firms – RSM Connect, and our international business development programme – Connected for Growth – have made significant progress this year and all of our centres of excellence have been active in enhancing their client services – including International Tax where RSM is the 5th largest provider of these services. 

With regard to our global profile – our first ever online game ‘Where on Earth?!’ highlighted all countries where we have member firms to over 30,000 players,  a new global advertising campaign was seen by readers,  and our white paper on ‘The Road to Recovery’ achieved over 60 press hits and a global audience of 13.4m. Our continued sponsorship of the European Business Awards has given us the chance to celebrate with almost 400 national champions in nine European countries over the last two months. And finally, myself and Bob Dohrer – RSM’s Global Leader for Quality and Risk – were both listed in the just released International Accounting Bulletin’s Global Accountancy Power 50 ranking. For RSM to have two entries in the Top 50 is a reflection of our collective strength and public recognition of RSM and our member firms’ strong positioning in the market.

There have been many other achievements I haven’t mentioned both centrally and within our member firms from people initiatives, profile raising, developing new business and above all continually exceeding our clients’ needs.

For me though (and I am an auditor at heart) the proof is in the figures. The point of doing all of this work is to facilitate the development  of our client base across member firms and to be the provider of choice for large multinationals and national corporates making strides to expand their businesses across borders. Our latest Q1-Q3 figures show year on year increase of over 30% referred work between members indicating our ever increasing international client base.

As I reflect on 2013, I am proud – of our members, of our leaders, of our network. We continue to be focused on providing the highest level of service to our clients – wherever they have professional service needs and in taking RSM to an ever increasing and dynamic client base. It has been another exciting RSM year. Now we turn to 2014, and look forward to our continued focus on our clients – and being the service providers of choice in all of our global markets. 

My very best wishes to all for a healthy and prosperous 2014. 


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RSM recognises European Business Awards National Champions

Guest post from Robert Coles, RSM Europe Regional Leader

RSM is the lead sponsor of the European Business Awards, and as the Regional Leader for Europe, I have had the great pleasure and fortune of being the Master of Ceremonies at RSM hosted ‘National Champions’ events across the continent. These special events are to celebrate with those companies who have been awarded National Champion status and who are therefore through to the next round in the competition.  In total, this is 371 companies in 31 countries; all of differing size and structure and from across many sectors and industries.

The tour began in The Netherlands immediately after the RSM World Conference in Amsterdam, where we held the Benelux event, hosted by RSM Netherlands and with Luc Toelen and Stephanie Grisius attending from Belgium and Luxembourg respectively. 

From there to Dublin, where the British Ambassador, Dominick Chilcott kindly opened up his residence to welcome and celebrate with RSM FGS and our invited guests.  Dominick has become a great friend to RSM throughout the years of our association with the European Business Awards. 

From here to Berlin and Paris, where the astonishing UK Embassy and residence were the backdrop to our events and more than 200 companies attended along with staff from RSM Germany and RSM France.

In Austria, Stefan Walter from RSM Exacta hosted an event for Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia, our first for these countries and a great success. 

In the UK, RSM International was the host and 100 UK companies attended with Charles Morgan of Morgan Cars, a previous winner, as the guest speaker. 

Next stop was the beautiful city of Athens, where Adrian Tripp, CEO of the European Business Awards, announced that the European Gala event will be held in Athens next May, to the delight of the assembled companies, diplomats and politicians. Onwards further to Cyprus, where we were hosted again by the British High Commissioner. 

Finally we arrived in Istanbul, that wonderful gateway to East and West, where Lokman Ketenci and his team from RSM KapitalKarden hosted a fabulous dinner for 100 guests.

It really has been a great pleasure for me to have met the leaders of almost 400 of Europe’s most outstanding companies. The experience has been inspiring; the enthusiasm of the business leaders and our RSM member firms in each country has made every event fun and rewarding and a huge success.

These companies are now undergoing public scrutiny in the public voting stage of the awards – and the public are voting in their masses – a staggering 56,000 votes have been cast so far – voting closes on 2nd January, so have your say now. Visit to see the companies and individuals leading the way in Europe today!


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