Weiser And Mazars To Come Together To Build A Global Brand

In a move that embodies the accelerated efforts of large regional firms looking to increase client service offerings by going global, New York City-based Weiser LLP (FY09 revenues of $128 million) has confirmed that they are in final discussions with global accounting giant Mazars (FY09 net revenue of $1.1 billion) to bring their practices together in the United States, adding a key player to expand the global brand of Mazars.

Mazars and Weiser have had a joint venture agreement for a decade; two years ago they began, in earnest, to bring it all together. In December 2009, they reached an agreement that now goes to the partners of each group. Final approval is expected in March.

If approved by the partner groups, Weiser will stay in existence, operating as Weiser Mazars, LLP, with partners and professionals remaining part of that group. “This is not a merger in the legal sense,” says Weiser MP Doug Phillips. WM LLP will enter into a cooperative agreement with Mazars SCRL, a Belgian not-for-profit association that will bind them together under the Mazars banner. The Weiser partners will remain partners in WM LLP, and will also become partners in Mazars SCRL.

“The business case is a strong one,” says Phillips. “If you look at increased globalization, a worldwide economy, the need for our clients to have access to emerging markets around the world, and the emerging importance of IFRS, we will get there quicker by combining with Mazars.”

In addition to increased client service capabilities, the move has created quite a buzz among the Weiser staff and recruits. “It has been overly positive,” Phillips says. “There is significant enthusiasm at the partner and staff level, and we have already seen positive effects on the recruiting side because of this move.”

Mazars has a strong global brand, with 12,000 professionals in 55 countries making up its integrated partnership. Mazars also has joint venture agreements in place with Springfield, Mo.-based BKD and Seattle-based Moss Adams, members of Praxity, an international alliance of independent accounting firms, along with Weiser and Mazars.

Admittedly, the Mazars brand is not well known in the U.S. today, Phillips recognizes. “Weiser has a 90-year old brand with a solid reputation in the metropolitan New York area. We would be foolish to get rid of that, which is why we will operate as Weiser Mazars.” Brand recognition and the evolution of service delivery to capitalize on all capabilities, will be the biggest obstacles in achieving the vision, says Phillips. “You can’t just slap a new name on and provide new services. You have to prove to clients that you have an increased capability.”

The Weiser–Mazars move follows similar efforts to expand the footprint of firms in a global economy: BDO Seidman announced it will operate as BDO to better align with the global brand; Crowe Chizek became Crowe Horwath to capitalize on the global Horwath name, and may ultimately be known as Crowe around the world; Virchow Krause recently became Baker Tilly Virchow Krause to expand its footprint both nationally and internationally. “There is absolutely no doubt that there is a very clear move for large regional firms to spread to a national and international platform,” Phillips says.