Trond-Morten Lindberg, head of BDO EMEA, was recently interviewed by Forbes Georgia - about the developments and challenges at BDO Georgia member firm, it’s role in the global network and the plans for 2018.
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Since 1999, BDO has remained one of the largest accountancy firms on the Georgian market. BDO Georgia provides a range of client services, including audit and assurance, tax, outsourcing, business advisory, legal, technology advisory and business trainings. The firm looks for innovative ways to help its clients maximize their growth opportunities, improve business processes and avoid pitfalls. With a new vision and plans, BDO EMEA also has new CEO - Trond-Morten Lindberg - the former CEO and Managing Partner of BDO Norway. He was a member of the BDO EMEA Board from 2012 to 2017. During his time as a CEO and Managing Partner, BDO Norway has tripled in size in both revenue and headcount. At present the firm matches or outperforms its larger global competitors. As head of BDO EMEA Trond-Morten Lindberg leads an organization with a revenue close to $2.6 billion, approximately 26,000 employees and a presence in more than 90 countries.
BDO Georgia is now within your scope of supervision. At what stage of development is your firm in nowand what challenges does it face today?
Trond-Morten Lindberg: First of all, I would say that there are no problems in BDO Georgia. It’s really quite the opposite. That’s because overtime, BDO Georgia has shown anability to grow and an ability to compete with emerging players in our sector. Growth in our sector means either growing revenue or growing positions on the market. BDO Georgia has done both. Growth is important to develop the firm, our people and our clients. As a firm, BDO Georgia needs to develop new services and people skills, it also needs to build the best firm structure and culture possible. If you are not growing, you will start to focus too much on the bottom line, and when you start to focus on the bottom line, you will not implement all the initiatives that you should do in these rapid evolving times. So growth is the primary level of developing our type of firm, and I am very satisfied to see my colleagues here in Georgia agreeing to that.
What role does BDO Georgia play within the global network?
Georgia obviously has a perfect geographical location. I mean, it’s located on the crossroads where Europe and Asia meet. It’s interesting to see what’s happening these days, because you’re about to implement new audit regulations. These new laws are highly influenced by the European Union. This makes it easier to understand and over time invest from the West. In the last few years, Georgian firms have shown great progress with regard to their diversity and the qualifications of their services.They have also proven that they can overcome any challenge and be a role model for other member firms within the network.
Let’s talk about the plans you have with respect to the Georgian firm…
I think that the most important thing to do in Georgia is to actually keep the structure that allows one to act quickly. The time when we would make 5-10 years plans has passed, because the world is changing rapidly. Of course we need to set some long-term goals and ambitions, but at the same time, we need to act really quickly because if it’s right to go left today, maybe it will be right to go right next week. It’s very important to have such a culture within the entire network, one that allows us to act rapidly and make decisions quickly. BDO Georgia has a relatively short history due to the country’s development. If I compare this member firm to the firm in Norway, we have 100 years of heritage. You guys sit in one office in the capital, with only a 18-year history, with a young partnership leading the firm into the future. The staff is also young, and they have a very good ability to understand what our next steps should be. They should really keep that culture within the firm. To me they perform very well and I look forward to be working with them.
You mention growth. What will provide this growth in BDO Georgia?
First of all, ambitious, curious and motivated people will always be the most important factor. Secondly, BDO Georgia’s ability to invest will transform them to an even more competitive player. The third thing of course is technology. The ability to invest and apply the right technology is extremely important, where the main challenge is to develop digital mindsets both in the firm and our clients. From what I have heard these days, I think that BDO Georgia can do much more and be a role model for other network members. In my role, my ambition is to strengthen the Georgian firm, but also contribute to a common agenda for the region as a whole. The regional offices should have maximum involvement, and by this I don’t just mean Georgia. We really need to put forth a global agenda to ensure we develop in the same direction. Because there is a shortage of people and resources, we need to cluster more resources and do more things together. There are a lot of things that other colleagues should learn from the Georgian firm and there are also a lot of things that BDO Georgia can learn from other member firms. We need to put our people and resources together, invest together and build a strong global culture. This is the most important plan.
Does this growth mean that BDO Georgia will become more of a global firm?
I hope it will. I’ve discussed this with our partners and staff, and I really see their ambitions growing. I can see this globalization happening in a short time period. They [BDO Georgia] play the role of challenger on the market, and they definitely have the ambition to develop that market position further. I think they will play a leading role in defining what kind of services the businesses here require. You know, as your country is growing, business also has growing demands and desires, so we need to follow the pace and develop in terms of globalization.
How effective is the legislation in the sector where BDO is positioned in Georgia?
The legislation in general means that your market is regulated in some form and that is the foundation for what we do. It’s definitely important. To achieve a stable and mature market on a common understanding among those within our profession and among our clients, it is necessary to have solid legislation in place.
What are your plans in 2018 with respect to BDO Georgia?
Actually, I have been in my new role for one month, so I think the most important plan is to really get to know who the key players are in the region. I realize that I need to work on both the larger markets and the smaller firms, and most importantly identify role models to develop and contribute further to our global agenda. Better communication and connections are necessary with the member firms in the region, as this will widen the level of ambition, cooperation and hopefully success. There are few member firms that fight the competition; the Georgian firm is among them. It is good that it has the appropriate skills and potential.