BDO Professional Services Events for Firm Leaders
At BDO, our sector-specific approach ensures our professional services clients and audited entities benefit from the specialist expertise and diverse skills of people who understand the professional services market and industry. As a large team of sector experts, we are committed to sharing the latest in innovation, technical updates and other issues of concern through digital communications, thought-leadership and hosting topical events.
Throughout the year, we host a series of online webinars and in person events to give industry leaders an opportunity to connect, share experiences and discuss topical market issues and challenges in the professional services sector.
Over the course of our recent events, we’ve discussed the ways law firms, recruitment businesses, property advisory firms and consultancies are reacting and adapting to the current business climate, and how the industry is continuously rethinking previous ways of working in order to create a sustainable industry for the future.
You can read highlights from our recent events and discussions below. If you are a firm leader, board member or senior finance/ tax professional of a professional services firm and you are interested in subscribing to our email updates or attending our exclusive events, please get in touch.
We host an annual programme of tax webinars to bring you the latest in tax developments relevant for professional services firms. Chaired by Anna Jarrold, Partner and member of the Tax Executive Board, each webinar focuses on a specific area of tax, and topics range from international tax issues such as Transfer Pricing and BEPS to employment tax updates and local tax compliance. We also provide tax updates from specific country territories where a number of professional services firms operate.
Professional Services Head of Tax Dinner
A brief update on professional services market themes and trends was covered at our dinner event, which was followed by an opportunity for industry peers to network together.
CFO Breakfast Roundtable with Richard Austin
At this event, Richard Austin (Partner at BDO) led a discussion on balancing the potentially conflicting demands of cash, profit share and investment in successful professional services firms.
Managing Partner Breakfast with Kevin Doolan, Strategy Four
We were joined by Kevin Doolan from Strategy Four who chaired a discussion on how leaders of the legal profession are approaching the strategic challenges that they face in the next few years. Discussions from the roundtable help to inform our Annual Law Firm Leadership Report.
Professional Services Head of Tax Event
A update on professional services market themes and trends was presented at this event, which was followed by a drinks reception to allow for industry peers to network.
We were joined by Peter Hemington (Head of M&A, BDO), who shared an update on M&A activity for Professional Services firms, including insights into the latest PE trends in the market. This was followed by a roundtable discussion.
ROUNDTABLE for Managing Partners – Governance in LLPs
A roundtable event with Matthew White, discussing governance in LLPs.
Recruitment Leaders ROUNDTABLE – M&A Landscape
In this session, James Fieldhouse gave an update on his view of the recruitment sector. This included: the UK recruitment market showed positive signs of recovery in 2021 and into Q1 2022, as the economy bounced back after its 2020 dip. However, more recently there has been a reduction in workers from overseas – from EU due to Brexit and also due to pandemic, and there has been a rise in the economically inactive. The key segments to focus on will be: Recruitment platform/software, IT, STEM, Multi sector or“ Generalist. James shared that 39% of UK recruitment deals involving a PE bidder, up from just 25% in 2021.
During discussions, people issues were focused on as recent train strikes have affected businesses, and upcoming May bank holidays are likely to further affect revenue. Guests agreed that recruitment firms are currently very busy and are hiring to match this, or else the opposite is occurring and there have been hiring freezes seen. Following the lockdown eras, guests thought a large proportion of mid-level managers will be required to upskill practise in BD. This is due to the significant amounts of time working from home. Firms will need to encourage staff to be proactively out in the marketplace to find candidates and clients.
ROUNDTABLE for CFOs and Finance Directors
A roundtable event with Stuart Collins, discussing the key items on a CFOs dashboard.
Recruitment Leaders ROUNDTABLE – M&A Landscape
A roundtable event with James Fieldhouse, discussing the M&A landscape for the recruitment sector.
WEBINAR: Rethinking Reward
Chair: Neil Williams
We discussed how firms can maximise the impact of their reward strategy and the whole employee proposition. Our expert panel of industry leaders talked through our framework based on scientific research conducted by the Behavioural Insights Team that outlines the impact of financial rewards alongside recognition, flexible working, wellbeing and ESG initiatives on employee outcomes.
ROUNDTABLE with recruitment finance leaders - Protecting your information in the War on Talent
Chair: Mark Cardiff
In partnership with Pinsent Masons, our discussions focused on mitigating the risk of intellectual property theft for recruitment firms. Our speakers covered what firms can protect, the practical steps to take when on-boarding employees and when employees leave, and what do to if you believe your intellectual property has been taken. The use of LinkedIn and contractual terms around whether contacts made during an employment belong to the employee or the firm sparked debate.
25 November 2021
WEBINAR: People & Property 3.0
The future of the workplace debate is fascinating and in real time we are all finding our way and learning along the way. Our expert panel of speakers unpicked some of the complexities surrounding the decisions professional services leaders are facing; decisions with high investments that will impact their people and thus their clients, revenue and profit.
The key theme from the discussions was choice and how employers can empower individuals to make the best choices to balance the needs of their own personal wellbeing, their teams, their clients and the organisation. We also know there are some vital components for human health and wellbeing including walking and fresh air, access to greenery and social interaction. So with the emphasis of choice being shifted onto the employee, how leaders can factor in these elements to create environments and policies to encourage their staff to make the best choices so they can thrive at work will be key.
WEBINAR: Rethinking the office, a fresh perspective of how the workspace continues to evolve.
In this virtual event we explored the potential opportunities for Professional Services firms who are thinking about the future of their office space post COVID-19.
Workplace strategies and the future of the office is clearly an evolving story. The key priority for firm leaders remains to find the right balance of investing in technology and decision making around re-configuring office space and future agile working policies that compliments your overall strategy and organisation culture. This is with recognition that there must be a cultural shift internally to accept the best of the old and new ways of working.
We were delighted to be joined by four speakers, who each shared their own perspectives on the topic:
WORKSHOP with law firm leaders – Rebuild or Reinvent Part 2?
With the health crisis and post-Brexit planning as a backdrop, now is an opportunity for firms to rethink business models whilst there is a greater willingness to accept change. At our first workshop held in June 2020, we posed the question ‘does the crisis present an opportunity to create a new, more flexible firm with lower pay and much less pressure?’. In this session we continued this discussion, to reflect on current and future changes as Law Firm Leaders make real world business decisions now that will impact how their firms perform over the next five years.
In the first half of the discussions we explored the pros and cons of remote working and the wide range of views about the future of agile working. In the second half we explored keeping up with the pace of change, innovation and the need to diversity career paths within the legal sector.
SEMINAR: A new beginning, opportunities for the future
In this virtual event we explored the potential opportunities for Professional Services firms who are prepared and capable of moving quickly and opportunistically post COVID-19. With a forward looking outlook on the current trading environment and arguably a seismic moment, we were joined by three industry speakers who each shared their own perspectives:
Our discussions covered key things to consider in preparing for M&A activity, in particular agreeing remuneration structures during a transaction and managing profitability during periods of rapid international growth. We also explored what the future shape of professional service businesses might look like, including whether there will continue to be a premium for London/ City based staff in the new remote working world.
ROUNDTABLE with recruitment finance leaders - Candidate mobility in a post-Brexit world
Chair: Mark Cardiff
Our discussions focused around candidate mobility following the UK’s new trade agreement with the EU and in partnership with The Ince Group, we presented both the tax and legal perspectives to candidate mobility. It was clear that this is a complex picture under the combination of Brexit and the health crisis, and the associated tax complications are broad. Sentiment from guests was that Brexit is hard to assess at the moment due to the circumstances of the pandemic.
ROUNDTABLE with consultancy leaders – Recent deals in the Consultancy industry
Chair: Neil Williams
There is a positive transaction story for the consultancy industry, with deal activity remaining buoyant over the course of 2020. Andrew Howson, Corporate Finance Partner and Sophie Kasiri, Corporate Finance Associate Director, at BDO led our discussions to outline recent deals in the industry and share diligence focus areas ahead of preparing for a capital event. We covered when to invest for growth, how to evidence the value of your brand and the importance of succession planning. It was also clear that building new relationships, training staff and embedding new joiners and monitoring the wellbeing of a firm’s people remains a high priority for consultancy leaders.
ROUNDTABLE with recruitment finance leaders – Rethinking your markets
Chair: Mark Cardiff
In this session we moved forward our thinking to how recruitment businesses could be re-thinking their markets, to ensure the strongest bounce back. In partnership with HSBC, we shared insight into the UK sectors and regions that are thinking of starting to invest in recruitment versus those that are continuing to pause, and we discussed the current challenges faced by the Government and the Recruitment sector. Overall, recruitment firms have shown an enormous level of resilience and an ability to change business models quickly, but there has been some very difficult decisions taken. There are jobs available but candidates are showing a reluctance to move from stable jobs and IR35 remain concern. The overall sentiment from our guests is that now is a time to be ‘cautiously optimistic’.
ROUNDTABLE with law firm finance leaders – Rethinking financing and investment models
Chair: Nick Carter-Pegg
We split this session into two halves, firstly focussing on issues to ‘keep the lights on’ followed by financial planning for the longer term. We also asked, how can we maintain the learnings from 2020 i.e. agile working, using offices differently and the importance of communication? Our guests reported a much more open minded view in their businesses than was felt previously around configuring real estate costs. In fact many predict a spend on technology will overtake property costs in the future. Recruitment, training & supervision and maintaining culture however remain a concern with mass home-working. There was mixed feelings about reviewing financing and investment models, with some Law Firm CFO’s open to new funding options, some reporting that COVID-19 hasn’t changed the long term plans of their firm and others suggesting the Professional Services industry may not have felt the full impact of the health crisis yet and are remaining cautious.
SEMINAR: The Economy – A new fiscal environment and way of working?
In this virtual event, we explored impact of the Economy on the Professional Services industry. Our guest speakers Chris Hare, Economist at HSBC Global Marking and Markets and Peter Hemington, Corporate Finance Partner & National Head of M&A at BDO, discussed the state of the UK and global economies and prospects post the health crisis.
The global economy is showing signs of recovery and some industries in overseas markets have returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, but there are still plenty of reasons to remain cautious. In the UK the recovery picture is mixed and there are large concerns about the labour market risks and on-going Brexit negotiations. Overall across the globe, lingering effects include consumer cautiousness, a lack of investment by businesses and lower revenue capacities in many industries due to social distancing.
There is however opportunity for this to be a different recession, with a focus on restructuring that brings forward existing trends and digitalisation that were already in play. For professional services firms, a focus on productivity improvements should be key. Investing in high quality technology and areas that improve productivity will help firms to future-proof their businesses against future global crisis. Now is an opportunity to rethink business models whilst there is a greater willingness to accept change. At times of change/crisis everyone needs advisers with appropriate skills and professional services firms are in a good place to provide the advice that other industries need.
SEMINAR: How will the recent lockdown affect future property requirements of Professional Services firms?
In this session, we focused on rethinking the office and the use of property. Our guest speakers, Michael Dubicki, Business Development Director at Flexioffices and Mat Oakley, Director of Commercial Research at Savills discussed two key questions;
The debate and issues raised certainly gave some food for thought. There were a couple of areas that stood out to us as key themes; habits versus behavioural change; to what extent will we see a seismic shift in the way we work; and with research showing in the longer term employees would prefer to work two days from home and three days in the office, is it actually possible to satisfy the best of both worlds as we return back to the office environment and the accompanying challenges that existed pre-COVID?
Overall our speakers felt now is not the time to make huge property decisions and firms should allow the next 9-12 months to play out, however it would be a lost opportunity if the last 100 days have not impacted the way we work in the future.
SEMINAR: Protecting your people & thriving in a post pandemic world
In this session we discussed two angles:
Our BDO guest speakers, Rob Worrall, Head of People and Zoe Bailey, Chief Strategy Officer, outlined how the professional services industry can look after its people in times of uncertainty and we shifted the focus to transformation, discussing how firms can embrace change and thrive in a post-pandemic world. We outlined BDO’s Rethink strategy – React, Resilience, Realise. This is a three stage process that can be used across an organisation to manage business priorities, address issues and leverage thinking. Each stage can be considered separately, or used as a part of a roadmap to help organisations manage throughout the COVID-19 impact. Read more about BDO’s Rethink model.
SEMINAR: Responding to COVID-19 & the future state of the industry post-pandemic
In our first online event, we focussed on strategy and we were joined by Zoe Bailey, Chief Strategy Officer at BDO, who shared the approach BDO initially took in responding to COVID-19, as well as how we are analysing the future state of professional services in a post COVID-19 world.