IAB Press Interview: End of Year Review 2022

Business Opportunities
February 20, 2023

PrimeGlobal CEO, Stephen Heathcote, spoke to International Accounting Bulletin (IAB) about his views on this year’s market challenges, company milestones, and his predictions for 2023.

IAB: How has your organisation grown in 2022 and post-pandemic? Where has this growth come from (service lines, regions)? What have been reasons for this growth?

Our member firms revenue grew by 12% to $4bn. The largest percentage increase was in Asia. We recruited one of the largest accounting firms in China and a large firm in Singapore. These firms want to service their clients’ international needs and were impressed by PrimeGlobal’s hands on support. Our North American firms increased their revenue by over $200k expanding advisory services through organic growth and acquisition. Firms also revised their pricing to better reflect value. In a recessionary environment there are opportunities for firms to help clients move ahead, as the late Arton Senna once said, “You cannot overtake 15 cars in sunny weather…but you can when it’s raining”. In the UK services extended into corporate finance, wealth management, technology advisory and tax specialism.

What tech investment will be made and what is the priority for hiring staff, incentives and retention within your organisation for 2023?

We have developed a global partnership with Xero to help our member firms develop their technology stacks to better service clients.
We have invested a six-figure sum in a new Association Management System. The system enables professionals across member firms to profile their expertise and collaborate in specialised communities.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a priority to ensure firms have access to the best capability to meet growing client needs. We have shared best practices and provided resources to help implement DEI initiatives. We have partnered with the organisation Mindshop to build firms advisory capabilities. We have provided extensive signposting advise to help firms offshore and outsource – this includes encouraging collaboration between firms.

What is the outlook for your company in 2023? Any new plans and initiatives?
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"In a challenging economic environment, it is important for firms to have a speedboat mentality so they can change direction quickly to meet client needs rather than be a container ship that only moves slowly." Stephen Heathcote, CEO, PrimeGlobal

Our initiatives include being the first association to issue an ESG workbook (aimed at small and midsize practices), so firms are ready to help their clients tackle climate change. We are launching a new collaboration digital platform which will enable firms to form specialised community groups where they can share knowledge and work together to take opportunities. We are promoting a new initiative to help retain and attract staff – where professionals combine work with vacation – workation. Professionals work from PrimeGlobal member firms’ offices anywhere globally, make connections with others, meet their work commitments but also benefit from vacation time.

What are your predictions for the accountancy industry? What further development is needed?

The profession is needed more than ever before to support business through tough economic times and to embrace new forms of reporting and assurance related to ESG. We will remain strong.
Meeting the demand for audits will continue to be a challenge with a severe shortage of staff. Regulators strengthening audit requirements risk creating a vicious downward cycle as staff shortages increase the risk of audit failures, leading to more regulation resulting in the profession being less attractive to join. It is important for regulators to take a wider view of the profession and be part of helping make it become attractive for top talent. We all need to work harder to change the perception of accountants, so we are seen as dynamic, innovative and value adding. Embracing opportunities relating to ESG reporting and assurance is a fantastic way to focus on the positive impact the profession makes to wider society.