As published in Accountancy Ireland.
RSM Managing Partner, John Glennon FCA, explains how client and talent experience both support and drive the firm’s international growth.
RSM Ireland’s people-driven approach has delivered impressive results in the form of 70% growth since 2016, the year the firm joined the RSM network and became united under one single global brand with RSM member firms across the world. “We had always been a member of international groups, but joining RSM was the best strategic decision we ever made,” says Glennon.
Being part of the global RSM network has brought a lot of referrals from US and UK companies, he adds. “Today, 47% of our clients are globally active companies and our goal is to be advisers of choice to middle market leaders in Ireland. We don’t have a business-to-business strategy; it’s person-to-person.” That people focus dates back several years. “We always had a consulting business,” says Glennon. “In the aftermath of the financial crash, we had a lot of clients coming to us looking for advice. Accountants will look at a business in a certain way and say the turnover or profits are down, and prescribe a financial remedy. But we realised that it’s people that drive businesses. Our consulting offering is based on that ethos.”That approach has seen the firm establish a substantial presence within the public sector over the last ten years. “The public sector now represents 50% of our consulting work,” he notes. “We also work closely with FDI companies based in Ireland, helping them as they navigate their journey and grow. Their needs change at various stages of their journey, and we are there to support them.”
A people-centric approach
RSM has also built a strong reputation for its training culture and approach to people development. “It’s all about helping people develop themselves and become more valuable to the client,” says Glennon. “We have also focused on rethinking the role of the partner in a professional services firm. It’s 50% about client service excellence and 50% about delivering talent experience. It’s about coaching people to realise their potential and accelerate their development. Being a valued team member has to be authentically experienced. The firm seeks to provide the right environment, but we ask our people to own their own future.”
That people-centric approach has led to an important decision concerning future working arrangements. “We are committed to hybrid working in the long-term. It has worked really well for us over the past 15 months, and 96% of our people want to continue with some form of hybrid arrangement, either two or three days a week in the office. That requires commitment and mutual trust.”
“We don’t believe our culture lies within the physical walls of our workplace and that its only present when we are physically present together in the office. Our values permeate our behaviours no matter where we are located."
Glennon firmly believes that the COVID-19 crisis has brought about a once-in-a- generation reconfiguration of how professional work will be performed. “We don’t believe our culture lies within the physical walls of our workplace and that its only present when we are physically present together in the office. Our values permeate our behaviours no matter where we are located. We will work hard to make it a success for our people, but we will have to help them reconcile demands from clients, colleagues and their private lives to make it work.” Such balance is important to Glennon. “We are committed to balance in our people’s working lives. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to work long hours occasionally, but you don’t want to institutionalise it. Another strategy that has delivered for us is our lean approach to our daily activities. We are trying to streamline our operations all the time.”
That strategy has brought about some fundamental changes to the business. “We used to have eight business units; we now have three – audit, tax and consulting.” The switch to remote working has brought its challenges, of course. “In a remote environment, we have found that you must work harder to develop ways to communicate to your teams regularly,” Glennon notes. “Last October, we instituted one-to-one communications with staff that are not about work but supporting the person. The feedback from staff has been amazing.”
Competing through collaboration
There is also a very strong focus on the overall culture of the firm. “RSM has a set of values, and we spent a lot of time translating those into a set of behaviours. Senior people are traditionally rewarded based on metrics. We have shifted this to a behaviourbased model, and the variable element of pay is related to living the firm’s values. There is a strong business basis for this. We want to have a strong collaborative culture because that’s how we compete in the marketplace. The days of command and control management are long gone.”
And the proof of that is in the numbers. “Our audit practice is going to grow by 30% this year, our strongest year ever. The business has always grown moderately, but it’s a very exciting time to be a young auditor with RSM. Our globally owned client base has grown dramatically. We have just appointed a new audit partner and are in the market for another to cater for continued growth.”
Supporting the FDI community
The tax business is also experiencing significant growth, particularly with the firm’s globally active clients. “We are designing bespoke tax solutions for these firms’ Irish operations,” says Glennon. “Companies are going to have to rethink some of their strategies due to the impending global tax changes. I don’t think Ireland will suffer any material loss of FDI companies based here solely for tax reasons. Companies have had a very positive experience in Ireland, but making the country a good place for talent to come and live and work is just as important as tax when it comes to attracting and retaining FDI.”
Also growing strongly is the firm’s outsourced technology offering to FDI clients. “We offer the Global Compliance and Reporting Service (GCRS), which can manage all aspects of multi-jurisdiction compliance for global clients,” says Glennon. “Our consulting business has experienced exponential growth in recent years. We work with clients on transformation programmes and help them with people issues and organisational design. We also offer a forensic and investigation service to assist with workplace conflict and dispute resolution. Our multidisciplinary consulting team includes accountants, barristers, solicitors, employment relations experts and technology specialists. An emerging service line for us is economic consulting.”
“While the last year has posed significant challenges, we have overcome them and I truly believe there has never been a more exciting time in our business,” Glennon concludes.
As featured in the August 2021 edition of Accountancy Ireland magazine.