Grant Thornton CEO predicts consolidation in accounting industry

01/27/2012 5:00 AM

01/27/2012 7:12 AM

Grant Thornton LLP chief executive Stephen Chipman expects to see more consolidation in the accounting industry in 2012, and he hopes to drive his firm’s growth in the next year by focusing on serving private equity firms and smaller, entrepreneurial companies.

Chipman, who is based in Grant Thornton’s national headquarters in Chicago, was in Wichita to meet with some of the firm’s Wichita staff and clients and to speak at a World Trade Council of Wichita event Thursday night.

He said the Wichita office was one of the firm’s top performing offices in 2011.

“Wichita is doing very well, and we’re thrilled with Lori’s (Davis) leadership,” Chipman said. He was speaking of Lori Davis, Grant Thornton’s Wichita office managing partner.

He also noted that the Wichita office received high marks in Grant Thornton’s most recent survey of local clients and employees.

“In our last round Wichita came out really near the top of the list,” he said.

Grant Thornton LLP has 50 offices in the U.S. and is a member firm of Grant Thornton International, which does business in more than 100 countries.

Chipman said his firm is re-focusing its efforts on serving entrepreneurial firms this year because “everybody is trying to figure out how do you grow in this environment.”

“I think what we’re saying is what is going to pull us out of this stagnant, volatile environment is growth from entrepreneurial, dynamic organizations,” he said.

Serving those types of companies is something his firm has done for a number of years now, Chipman said. The new push is about “better articulating how we support and help those clients” as well as serving more of them.

Grant Thornton made a few mergers and acquisitions in 2011, including the acquisition of a Boston-based firm “that doubles our footprint in New England” and a merger of its China office with a Chinese-owned accounting and consulting firm.

“We expect to see increasing consolidation in the accounting profession nationally and globally,” he said. “We are very determined to pursue (mergers and acquisitions) … as we see consolidation play out throughout the profession.”

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