View from the Top – Tom Roberts, Head of Consulting at BDO LLP

It has been two years since the merger between BDO and PKF. How did that experience feel and what has been gained by the coming together of the two businesses from a Consulting perspective?

The merger presented a huge opportunity. PKF had a very strong consulting practice which complemented BDO’s public sector consulting business.  In addition BDO is a member of the 5th largest accountancy network in the world which opens up new opportunities for the consulting team. There was a lot of synergy in sectors such as infrastructure, financial model assurance and government work.

We merged some of the teams and broke down any structural barriers. A lot of energy was invested in making sure there were opportunities for the whole consulting business to work together. Now we have a strong reputation for delivering exceptional quality and have built a lot of trust and goodwill with clients – our dedication to exceptional client service continues to pay off – for the third year running we have the highest overall satisfaction score among our peers, according to  independent research  carried out by Meridian West (Mid Market Monitor 2014).

How does consulting fit into the broader BDO offering?

Consulting sits as part of a wider advisory service of over 400 staff, which includes forensics, global outsourcing, financial services, business restructuring and corporate finance (transaction and M&A).  Consulting provides a new dimension and an added value proposition. We have access to a huge amount of skills in this wider community.

BDO is well known for its international projects work, and has previously won MCA Awards for these achievements. How did you manage to build this strength?

Our international projects business has been going for a number of years now. We have built a strong reputation in that market, working particularly in challenging post conflict environments and adding considerable value. We previously won the Best International Project at the 2012 MCA Awards with our work in Bosnia & Herzegovina and we are delighted to be shortlisted again this year for our work in Sierra Leone.  I think the strength in this area has come from a mix of having the right skills and expertise but also an ability to manage people on the ground and deliver successful outcomes.

How do you differentiate BDO in the consulting market place?

We find there is a real appetite among clients for additional choice, innovation and independence. In terms of where we sit in the market we offer a strong alternative to some of the larger traditional players. In terms of choice in the market we also offer a slightly different approach and culture.

We also encourage working in partnership with other firms. We can often strengthen our offering to clients by bringing in expertise and working in partnership with smaller specialist firms.

Are you recruiting now at a graduate level?

The graduate intake is new for us. After the merger we thought long and hard about the war on talent as we had only previously recruited people who were already highly skilled and trained with sector knowledge. We decided that we wanted to build up the business in a new way and train people with the expertise we had, and develop them within the consulting business.

We launched a specialist consulting recruitment programme aligned to the main BDO graduate recruitment in 2013 and attracted a phenomenal response. That first group of consultants have now come through and are doing incredibly well. They are all actively with clients as part of experienced teams doing valued work and are gaining very positive feedback. Based on their success we rolled out this approach again in 2014 and are about to hold an assessment centre for the next recruits.

What projects do BDO have to look forward to in 2015?

We are delighted that we have just been appointed to the new NHS England Lead Provider Framework, a stunning achievement in terms of what it represents.  We have joined together with Mouchel, Engine and Dr Foster and are looking at a huge opportunity. It will be exciting to see what comes out of it and we have invested and developed compelling offerings in this new area.