Sights set on FTSE 100 clients following merger

BDO’s pending merger with competitor Moore Stephens means the brand will soon overtake Grant Thornton in the list of the country’s largest professional services firms. The deal puts it in a strong position to take aim at larger listed clients in 2019 - where the Big Four currently dominate - allowing it increase staff and partner numbers by 25% and expand its capabilities in key areas.

We think the deal could result in a step-up in sponsorship investment, as BDO looks to build a trusted reputation and be included in future audit pitch processes. The brand now boasts 149 AIM-listed firms as clients - 23 more than KPMG - and has heavily relied on partnerships to cement its position as the foremost auditor of AIM-listed firms in the UK and the go-to for mid-sized UK companies. This has seen it sponsor the Sunday Times Track series, including the Fast Track 100, Tech Track 100 and Profit Track 100.

Keeping it 100: While it’s worth noting that BDO has said “we are not chasing the Big Four and don’t want to become a version of those businesses”, the firm’s current position is set to act as a platform for a marketing offensive on the FTSE, with its Managing Partner noting that “the FTSE 100 will be our next target”. This is anticipated to be a real challenge despite the merger – the Big Four have a market share of at least 97%, and the deal still only makes it approximately 30% of the size of its next-largest rival KPMG.

Educational partnerships: Partnerships providing a platform for educational content marketing will be relevant to be included in future audit pitch processes. It is expected to target high-growth segments, making audience segmentation an additional focus. Energy is seen as one key area – the company is a sponsor of Mining Capital, Oil Capital, Women in Mining and The Oil Council, all focused on generating thought leadership around the category.

CSR-led partnerships: Building trust will be crucial as it looks to convince that it can service FTSE needs and match the interdisciplinary scope of larger rivals. It will also look to differentiate via qualities that make it popular with smaller brands, such as transparency and flexibility. On a regional level, the brand works with a range of charities across the UK, with staff fundraising for Claire House, Winston’s Wish, Water Aid and many more. While these local partnerships are in line with its engagement of smaller businesses, we’re predicting a larger national partnership in the longer term.

Prospective partners should note that BDO also has ambitious plans to reduce its environmental impact, laid out in its 2017-18 Carbon Footprint Report. These include encouraging the use of Video Conferencing to reduce employee travel and demanding that suppliers and contractors also innovate and reduce their impact on the environment. Partnerships that can offer a platform for the brand to showcase these initiatives could also fall on sympathetic ears at BDO.

Media Spend Q1-3 2018: n/a

Partnerships: Sunday Times Track Series, Mining Capital, Winston’s Wish, Water Aid

Key decision-makers:

Head of External Communications Elliott Grady - connect

Director of Comms Nicola Lally - connect