INTERVIEW WITH RSM SOUTH AFRICA AS THE FIRM TURNS 77

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  • Apart from RSM International firm of the year award, what other accolades has RSM received recently?

 

RSM South Africa have just turned 77. This is a remarkable achievement and a true testament to how our firm has grown with and adapted to the changing needs of our clients. We have a strong training and development programme for our trainee accountants and, as such, are extremely proud that our trainees had a 94% pass rate for the APC (Board 2) exams.In line with the growth of our firm, we have just appointed a number of new partners and directors.RSM as an international network has achieved a 6% increase in global fee income, to US$4.64 billion. RSM has also moved up one place in the global ranking and is now the 6th largest global network of independent audit, tax and consulting firms.In 2014 John Jones, as part of the RSM International Tax Leadership Group, was presented with an award for best contribution to the network.

 

 

  • What were the achievements during the year that enabled the firm to win this award?

 

The annual RSM Special Recognition Awards calls for nominations for various categories, with evidence and motivation for that particular award. The RSM Member Firm of the Year award recognises an RSM member firm that has excelled in a number of strategic, operational and commercial areas over the past 12 months.

 

What was great for RSM South Africa is that we were nominated by the Asia Pacific Regional Director and other members firms in the network and were awarded this accolade based on the recommendation of our peers. For us, that makes this award even more special. We were chosen from member firms in over 120 countries across the globe.

 

Without a doubt, the leadership of RSM South Africa played an important role in our nomination for this award. Under Managing Partner, Brian Eaton, RSM South Africa has a clear direction to follow and he has driven the firm forward to see growth in all areas.

 

Clive Betty, RSM Regional Leader for Africa, has also been instrumental in the expansion of RSM in Africa and in mentoring the development of firms in this vast emerging region. We now have representation in 10 African countries with more growth to follow soon.

 

RSM South Africa is very active within the network.

 

John Jones, one of our partners, is a member of the RSM International Tax Leadership Group which is tasked with setting International Tax strategy for the RSM International Network as a whole.

 

Henk Heymans, our Head of Audit, has also recently been appointed to the RSM International Transnational Assurance Services Executive Committee (TASEC). TASEC is responsible for the development and implementation of the RSM International Audit Manual, Quality Assurance and Risk Containment Policies and the RSM International Firm Inspection Programme.

 

We are also actively involved in the RSM Academy, which is a collaborative learning programme to ensure senior managers, directors and junior partners can immerse themselves in the diversity of business and personal cultures that they can expect to come across in our network.

 

We were also recognised for the high level of inspection work that we have performed within the network, as well as the development of RSM Inter Firm Agreements.

 

RSM South Africa have been instrumental in the development, planning and hosting of the first two RSM Africa Regional Conferences. This annual conference provides an opportunity for all members firms in the African region to get together for strategic discussion to ensure growth and business development in the region.

 

  • How has RSM South Africa fared in terms of achieving its business growth objectives?

 

 

Business growth, as we all know, is extremely challenging when considering the current economic environment in which we operate. This is not only a South African issue but one which is worldwide. We are starting to see improvement in economic growth in the United States but also there has been a slowdown in the growth rates being achieved out of China.

 

Within South Africa our economy is under extreme pressure with very limited real growth being achieved. This is obviously impacting on our clients with a corresponding impact on our own business.

 

We have set very high business growth objectives for the firm as a whole and in order to achieve these have worked extremely hard, not only within our existing traditional service lines, but also to develop other service offerings which we can provide to our clients.

 

In this regard we have been, in our view, extremely successful in creating very specific and high levels of expertise in other service lines.

 

So in addition to an excellent offering in terms of traditional Assurance, Compilation and Tax Compliance service lines we can provide our clients with Legal Advisory, Risk Advisory, B-BBEE Consulting, HR and Labour Consulting, Valuations and International Tax Consulting (Inclusive of Transfer Pricing). The most recent addition to our service offerings to clients is in the area of IT Consulting. We are also able to provide clients with assistance when they are exposed to the risks of Business Interruption, which is again a highly specialised service line where we have been able to develop high levels of expertise.

 

We have also looked to develop specific expertise in the area of Family Owned Businesses as these types of organisations have particular professional requirements which are not always considered. Succession planning is one example of the types of issues on which we are able to provide clients with assistance in this particular area of specialisation.

 

So although business growth remains an ongoing challenge, we have created an organisation which is a multi-disciplinary provider of professional services across a range of service lines. Each of these service lines can operate in isolation but in many instances complement each other and therefore enhance the service offering we can give to our client base.

 

By strategically looking at our business model in this way and being prepared to invest in new areas of specialisation and expertise, we have been able to grow our business significantly over the past number of years.

 

  • Through what means does RSM South Africa ensure that the firm maintains high level of ethics and integrity?

 

 

Throughout RSM South Africa’s 77 year history, ethics and integrity have been a cornerstone of our firm. Ethics and integrity are undoubtedly woven into of the firm’s culture and each of our employees live up to the highest levels of ethical principles.

 

Not only is it part of our business culture, but we make certain that our employees are aware of our policies regarding ethics and independence. In addition to formal policies, we have a National Head of Ethics and a whistle blower link on our website.

 

  • Is transformation considered a key objective at the firm, and if so, how is it attended to?

 

RSM South Africa has been very active in participating in various activities that target and drive transformation within our industry. We recognise that while great change has occurred in the profession over the last few years, there is still much work to be done.

 

Thuthuka Bursary Fund is an initiative of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants. We have been proud supporters of the Thuthuka Bursary Fund since its inception. The programme allows underprivileged black students the opportunity to qualify as Chartered Accountants, enter the job market as professionals and really transform their lives and the lives of their families.

 

RSM South Africa have not only sponsored the initiative as donors but we also take in students that have graduated through the programme to commence their 3 year Training Contracts with our firm.

 

Over the years, we have had a number of students pass through our doors as Trainee Accountants who have gone on to qualify as Chartered Accountants, and we consider every one of them to be a success story.

 

In addition to the above initiatives we are actually involved in the negotiations for the CA Charter in terms of the B-BBEE codes. Brian Eaton represents the medium sized firms on the CA Charter.

 

  • Kindly highlight some recent contributions by the firm to the community and to the relevant professions your professionals are a part of.Aside from the support that RSM South Africa provides to the Thuthuka Bursary Programme, our firm also gets involved in regular social responsibility initiatives.

 

Each year, we will run at least one charity initiative for all the staff to get involved with like Stop Hunger Now or the Santa Shoe Box projects. One of our most recent initiatives was where all of the Johannesburg employees visited an underprivileged school in Cosmo City. The staff split up into teams and re-painted around 20 classrooms, as well as played games and interacted with the children.

 

We send a number of Trainee Accountants during work days to assist at various charitable organisations, as and when we have the capacity. This includes organisations such as the SPCA or Salvazione School, as well as the South African Guide Dog Association. We also get our staff involved in fun charity initiatives throughout the year such as Slipper Day or Tekkie Tax.

 

Brian Eaton took part in the CEO SleepOut last year and raised over R 110 000 for Girls and Boys Town.

 

Where possible we try to use suppliers who are emerging businesses as we believe that this is one of the best ways that organisations can uplift the community in which they operate.

 

As a firm, we have many clients who are donor funded and pubic benefit organisations, we provide many professional services to these clients in order to assist them.

 

  • How does the firm ensure that professionalism and good customer service are upheld?

 

We pride ourselves on a client-centred approach in everything we do and ensure there is a high level of partner involvement in all client work. Clear and efficient communication is of the utmost importance to us as we believe that this is the foundation to providing our clients with a high level of service. As such we stay in regular contact with our clients and ensure that their dedicated team is always available to answer questions or give them an update.

 

We believe that good relationships with clients facilitate good communication and through this, we are able to best understand and meet the client’s needs.

 

Every RSM member firm across the globe shares the same commitment to quality and we are accountable for ensuring that we uphold this standard of client service. As a global network, we also have ties to industry leaders from across the world. We use these connections to give our clients the benefit of local expertise with global perspective.

 

 

 

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