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As the funds business changes and adapts to global pressures, managers are seeking a more bespoke and global service from their auditor, Alex Bodden and Greg O’Driscoll of global advisory firm RSM tell Cayman Funds.
As the world has become ever more interconnected, so has the funds industry, with many investors now taking a holistic approach to which funds they back and where they are based. Fund managers are often also multijurisdictional along with other service providers, as are the companies and investors behind private equity ventures and hedge funds.
While all these companies and structures will need auditors and other accountancy advice, very few advisory firms have the capacity to offer a truly joined-up, global service.
This dynamic, and the ability to offer a seamless service, are what sets RSM apart, claims Alex Bodden, managing partner of RSM Cayman.
With some 790 offices in 120 countries employing more than 42,000 staff, RSM is the sixth largest global accountancy firm, fifth in the US and has broken into the Big 4 in certain countries, including China. Yet its financial service industry offering is set in a very different way from that of many big players in this space.
“Our culture is to fully cooperate and integrate our services across offices and jurisdictions to ensure we find the best solution and outcome for the client based on expertise and capabilities, regardless of which office may have had that initial relationship,” Bodden says.
“We are a joined-up global financial services team which always tries to offer a seamless service to clients. Based on our growth, it seems that is something the market is recognising and really likes.”
He adds that being just outside the Big 4 also has its advantages.
“We have found that we are the first alternative choice. If a client is looking to make a change, we often get a chance to pitch for that business. We compete on price and service but it is the combination of those two things you have to get right, and I think we often do.”
Bodden notes that the firm focuses on leveraging experienced senior people in many of its offices, meaning clients are not dealing with layers of differing expertise and fee-earners.
"You don't have to be physically somewhere these days; it means we can pull in experts based on their knowledge or the jurisdiction they are based in." Greg O'Driscoll
“Timeframes are shrinking and pressures are building in business every day. We find more experienced people taking a focused global view are more likely to get the best outcomes for clients,” he says.
Greg O’Driscoll, director at RSM Cayman, joined the firm some 18 months ago after working in Dublin, London, New York and Cayman. He was attracted to the firm because of its global scale and also the fact that it is very well integrated, with senior people in other offices very accessible.
“We work at a high level of service and it is fantastic to be on a conference call with other people regularly dialling in from New York, London or Hong Kong for instance. From a service provider perspective, clients like that approach.
“You don’t have to be physically somewhere these days; it means we can pull in experts based on their knowledge or the jurisdiction they are based in,” says O’Driscoll.
RSM Cayman was formed some 14 years ago in the aftermath of the government passing new legislation which would ultimately encourage accounting firms to grow along with the funds and alternative investment industry on the Islands. Bodden, who previously worked for PwC, opened the office as he started to see momentum building in Cayman.
Since then, the growth has been steady and at the end of last year the firm finally outgrew its offices, moving into new offices in George Town at the start of 2017. RSM Cayman now has 16 staff, which has doubled in four years, and it has taken an option on taking more space in the coming years should its trajectory continue.
Bodden says that combined with proven service delivery the growth it has experienced has resulted from a mixture of being recommended more, as more firms seek an alternative advisor, and newer markets which are expanding and maturing such as Asia—China in particular—which is a growth market for Cayman. Clients want a partner they know from their local market where RSM has a big presence.
“The funds industry on Cayman has had a few challenges in recent years and, while it is pretty stable again now and is resilient in overcoming bumps in the road, our growth has been based on increasing market share rather than necessarily a growing market,” Bodden says.
“While most markets are doing OK, China is the 800-pound gorilla in the room and we anticipate more growth from that market in every sense. Emerging markets generally are looking more at the various fund structures available and Cayman is the jurisdiction of choice.
“We also do a lot in the insurance space, which is a strong market in Cayman, and we are seeing a lot more money going into the private equity space. That has really been growing here as an alternative to traditional hedge funds and it is an exciting space where we are also picking up clients.”
O’Driscoll reiterates that the real strength of the firm lies in its balance between size, scope and expertise while remaining agile enough to offer a superior service to clients.
“We are nimble and responsive but with the resources and infrastructure of a very big firm,” he says. “I am working with a client in China at the moment and working with several other offices globally to deliver the best possible service for the client. It doesn’t matter who is based where, the client comes first.”
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Alex Bodden is an assurance partner and the managing partner of RSM Cayman. He can be contacted at: email@example.com
Greg O’Driscoll is a director of RSM Cayman and leads the business development of RSM Cayman’s offshore funds practice. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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