Gaining global reach – fast
Joining Praxity helped Shorts quickly establish connections with independent accounting firms worldwide to deliver added value to clients.
Praxity membership: Affiliate
Sector: Accountancy and Corporate Finance
Head office: Chesterfield
“If I compare the cost of Praxity membership to the fees generated by international referral work, we have probably had a return of 20 times, a lot of it coming out of the States.”
Shorts has grown from a local business into one of the UK’s leading regional firms. The award-winning practice is renowned for providing a seamless blend of expertise across all its services. Joining Praxity was a natural progression to extend this seamless delivery internationally by teaming up with specialist accounting professionals in other countries while retaining the personal touch that is so important to clients.
After a period of rapid growth in local markets in the UK, Partners at Shorts were beginning to speak to larger businesses with international operations, or aspirations of expanding overseas. The challenge was to convert this interest into business wins by providing a broader range of specialist expertise across different geographies. It was important to retain the close personal relationships that Shorts had built up with clients over the years by providing a single port of call for all services.
The Praxity solution
Praxity membership provided Shorts with the platform it needed to connect, and develop collaborations, with firms overseas. Critically, these firms share the same commitment to delivering high quality service. Managing Partner Andy Irvine says: “We talked to a few associations and Praxity were by far and away the best people. Everything they said rang true about the value of focusing on quality. We felt comfortable that they had an understanding of the business. When we applied, the question they asked was, ‘Are you at a level which justifies you being a member?’, which provided a sign of the quality of Praxity participant firms globally.”
The outcome: local growth, global referrals
Being part of Praxity has enabled Shorts to grow on two fronts – locally by serving clients with international operations, and internationally through referrals from other firms in the alliance. Many of these referrals are from the States, including BKD and Plante Moran, and from FALK in Germany, and mainly consist of tax deals and structuring, and audit and assurance. “We wanted to win work locally on the basis of having international reach, and while that has been the case, what we have been blown away with is the amount of international referrals which we have won coming into the UK,” Andy says.
He stresses the importance of networking and attending Praxity conferences to get more value out of membership, adding: “If you join an alliance like Praxity and you don’t get yourself out there and make connections, you might get some referrals but that’s it. If you go about it properly, sending people to the global conference, the international tax conference and the North American tax conference, for example, you will see a big difference.
“What’s become clear to me is the power of personal connections and relationship building. Praxity has allowed us the opportunity to connect on a personal level with colleagues around the world. If one of our clients wants to do business in Russia, for example, we can pass them on to someone who is brilliant in that country, and vice-versa. In the US, Praxity participant firms can employ thousands of people but this doesn’t preclude you from working together.”
Everyone has a seat at the table
Andy says he was “incredibly surprised” to find that despite being a relatively small firm with 120 staff, Shorts can have just as much influence on how Praxity operates as the largest member firms. He cites the example of a new online M&A hub developed by Praxity at the suggestion of Shorts Corporate Finance chief Andy Ryder. The hub provides a searchable listing of buyers and sellers across the globe, allowing accounting firms to help their clients do cross-border business more easily.
“When Andy went to the international board and said ‘why don’t we do this?’, they said ‘we can, why don’t you lead it?’. If you have got something valuable to say that can add to the alliance, it is taken on board. It’s not a closed association and we are delighted we joined. It’s been a positive experience for us.”