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East Coast Mid-tier Market Update 2014

THE SECOND HALF of 2014 has seen increased optimism across the Mid-Tier accounting firms on the East Coast as firms look to bed in and execute growth strategies as well as many firms with relatively new Managing Partners. This has seen new Managing Partners wanting to put their stamp on the direction of the firm through new ideas and strategies to improve the firm’s profitability and ability to service clients.

The highest area of demand continues to be established Business Services Partners with transportable practices. This is a trend across the East Coast as firms look to play to their mid-market strengths and set up a continuing revenue stream. A number of firms are also experiencing succession planning issues in this area and don’t have existing talent within their firms to promote organic growth.

A geographical focus towards Greater Western Sydney has also been seen during 2014 in the Sydney market. The Big 4 has been prominent in this area with Deloitte Private recently acquiring Moore Stephens Parramatta and KPMG opening a larger office in Parramatta, with the office to be led by their Private Enterprise division after the acquisition of David Pring from Deloitte Private. Also William Buck acquired two Partner Parramatta firm Priestly Morris as well as Moore Stephens opening a new office in the area. As the number of SME and Private Client businesses continue to move or set up in the Greater Western Sydney area, we are hearing that penetrating and establishing a presence in the Greater Western Sydney market is on a number of mid-tier firm’s agenda.

We see the upcoming 12 months to be a period of change and transition within the mid-tier space as firms look at their strategy for growth and differentiation. It is becoming apparent that the mid-tier space is at a level approaching over population, particularly in Sydney as the Big 4 continues to invest in the Private Clients space and a number of strong boutique firms are building Private Client focused practices. Given this level of population and with firms fighting over the same clients as well as firms looking to grow, we envisage an upcoming period of consolidation within the market as firms will look to acquire businesses that align culturally and solidify existing service offerings.

Mid-Tier firms, while trying to expand into new service offerings have also realised that the Business Services practice needs to be the cornerstone of a firm. This is due to the ability to bring new clients to the firm, continuum of recurring income and that Business Services is the primary area of need for SME and Private Client businesses. By solidifying this area of a firm it then makes it that much more effective in on-selling value added specialist services to an existing and well serviced client base that have existing entrenched relationships within the firm.