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Kreston chair eyes global growth after re-election

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As the firm expands, the re-elected chair of Kreston Global says the group’s focus is on the industry’s skills gap and on providing stability and security for its clients.

16th Apr 2024
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Kreston Global is seeing “a number of firms” join as it continues to expand its international footprint, its re-elected chair Mark Taylor has told AccountingWEB.

Taylor – who is also head of international at UK member firm Duncan & Toplis – has been re-elected for another three-year term.

In the role, he is responsible for coordinating the Kreston Global Tax Group and leading its tax network of 5,000 advisers in 115 countries.

Taylor said he was “absolutely thrilled” to be re-elected as he looks to build on the “absolutely fantastic” team the group put together during his first three-year term.

Smoother start

However, he’ll be hoping for a smoother start to proceedings this time round.

“Just as I was elected [the first time], Covid hit, which is probably the biggest event that any of us have experienced in our lifetimes,” he said. “What we found was that there was a great amount of demand from clients for our services. Companies were effectively shut down and, in the UK, had people on furlough. There was just so much going on.”

Taylor noted that the unique set of circumstances “made us realise how powerful using online meetings was”.

“We were so worried when Covid hit but we actually grew quite significantly, along with plenty of other professional services firms over that period.

“The shift into the digital meetings meant that we were connecting far more often and far more strongly with all of our members around the world by holding online conferences and to really connect.”

International network

Taylor says the closeness that came from Covid is still present in the firm.

“When I originally applied for the role of group tax chair, I set out that I thought we should have a regional director for every region of the world in which Kreston operates, so then we started recruiting for those roles.

“We now have regional directors in Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. They then started developing their own groups within their region, so having a Middle East tax conference or an Asia-Pacific tax conference for example, that really helped us to develop that closeness.”

Kreston has about 160 member firms across 115 countries worldwide, with the group “seeing a number” of new business join, said Taylor.

“I think Kreston has a really good feel to it as a network and that’s being seen as attractive to a lot of firms. We are ambitious and feel that we’re an appealing opportunity for other firms to join.”

Fast pace

However, he noted that the world is moving at a fast pace these days.

“I can remember when I started out in tax, you learnt the rules and you knew the rules. Nowadays, you have to learn the rules every year because they change every year,” he said.

“We’re also seeing global tensions and the tragedy of certain conflicts, as well as the effects on supply chains and political uncertainty. And our clients – the businesses that we advise – they seek stability and security. I think that’s a difficult thing to achieve in the world at the moment.

“I believe there’s more than 50 elections around the world this year, so people are already thinking about what may happen from a tax point of view if we have changes with governments.”

Skills gap

So far as other concerns go, Taylor believes a lot of firms are “resource-constrained, particularly at manager level, so we’re making a big effort to get those who’re newly qualified to take that next step to manager. Certainly our firms feel that it’s a huge benefit of being part of a global network to be able to attract that talent.

“I think being a global player definitely helps and gives our younger people a real incentive to join us and stay with us, and we’re very focused on the younger people in the network.

“So much so that we have a group run by the younger generation called Kreston Futures, which helps us understand their needs and try to retain that talent for the future.”

Taylor noted there is a focus on the skills gap, noting that it’s the main driver for forming these groups and having them run by people in that generation.

“It’s no good us sitting around as a group of people with grey hair and deciding what we think is best for the next generation. We need to ask them,” said Taylor.

Flexibility

“The other thing that the pandemic taught us was that people liked their work-life balance and flexibility and I think, particularly that generation, they want that.

“So there’s definitely been a shift to that in the network, but also investing the time and the money to train those people on international taxation and give them the opportunities to connect with their counterparts overseas.”

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