RSM CEO defends UK rebrand
On the day of Baker Tilly’s rebranding as RSM, Jean Stephens, global CEO of RSM, spoke with AccountingWEB.
Baker Tilly has been part of RSM for over a year, but this week they joined member firms from around the world in going to market as part of the RSM brand. Baker Tilly’s name change is part of an RSM International shake-up where affiliates will transition to the unified global brand name of RSM.
Speaking to AccountingWEB, RSM’s global CEO Jean Stephens stressed the importance of an integrated brand: “it signals to the market how unified we are, and provides us with the opportunity to tell our story in a more effective, efficient fashion, so our clients understand our global proposition and are reassured that they will receive premium service wherever they have needs”, Stephens said.
However, some have raised an eyebrow at Baker Tilly’s rebrand. Back in September 2013, Baker Tilly completed its acquisition of RSM affiliate, RSM Tenon, after Tenon entered administration. So now Baker Tilly, a respected UK brand, has taken on a name which, thanks to the Tenon link, still carries a hint of scandal.
However, Jean Stephens refutes the idea of RSM being considered a tainted brand, drawing on research which suggests differently. “We did extensive research with our clients and prospects covering 18 territories, including the UK. The RSM brand tested very well”.
Stephens stressed RSM’s strength as a global network to those people still hung up on the RSM Tenon connection. “Look at the strength of the RSM International network, our long history, and the great member firms we now have in the UK. We are in around 120 countries now, of which we have fantastic member firms that are leaders in their own market.”
Stephens underlined how RSM’s global network presence will attract clients and grow their member firms: “Our people want to have international reach and be part of a dynamic organisation, and having the best professionals in our firms around the world is critical to us reaching our goals.”
It is on the global platform which RSM is keen to focus and facilitate the entrepreneurial market. “We focus on growing entrepreneurial companies, many of whom already have international needs, and if they don’t, they’re thinking about it in the future. They need a trusted adviser, someone they can work with on their growth plans”, said Stephens.
As a female in a senior position within the profession, we asked Stephens about the importance of women within accounting. “Diversity is very important, and thankfully family life is no longer is just women’s domain.”
Although she acknowledges that the profession is still male dominated, Stephens says that any career challenges she has encountered have been ‘Jean Stephens challenges’ rather than gender-related ones.
But when it comes to gender balance in the profession, Stephens believes more can still be done to remedy this. “In terms of the numbers within the profession we are still not doing enough to get more women to the top, and keep women coming through – from the time they graduate up to partner.” Stephens concludes that having a wider diversity of people around the table isn’t just about equality: it’s good business.
While being global CEO is a stressful occupation, Stephens considers it the best job in the world. “I want my team to always challenge me: from the time that I wake up until the time I go to sleep. But that’s just the nature of it if you’re ambitious.”