What’s In A Name – Top 20 Firms Make The Change

Michael PlattWhat’s in a name? Two big announcements were made in September by Top 20 firms to help them take better advantage of future global opportunities. The 66-year-old Indiana native Crowe Chizek & Company has adopted a new name, Crowe Horwath, reflecting its strong relationship with Horwath International and the desire to become a global leader. The 77-year-old Midwest powerhouse, Virchow Krause & Company, will soon adopt the name Baker Tilly, becoming the only U.S.-branded entity in the Baker Tilly International network.

Reaction to the name changes from other CPA firms have ranged from “brilliant” to “crazy.” Why in the world would a well-established firm like Virchow Krause risk losing market awareness by adopting a whole new name? “It’s foolishness,” said one IPA Top 100 partner. But both VK and Crowe are taking steps to adapt to the fast-changing global marketplace. They are planting a flag in a brave new world of international accounting standards, multinational transactions and a shrinking global economy. It is a grand experiment, playing out on a combined 143 years of history and name recognition.

Will their gamble work? If it does, both Virchow and Crowe will have successfully re-invented themselves for the 21st century, and will possibly start a trend that will move the U.S. accounting profession closer to the seamless global player that it wishes to become. Regardless, their moves will set in motion a marketing juggernaut that will be closely watched by consultants, firms, clients and staff. Let the experiment begin – I, too, will be watching with great interest.