What consultant Allan Koltin calls one of the “fastest merger discussions ever” has resulted in the decision that West Des Moines, Iowa-based Kiesling Associates (FY15 net revenue of $13.4 million) will merge on Dec. 4 with Midwest powerhouse Springfield, Mo.-based BKD (FY16 net revenue of $537.6 million).
The first meeting between the firms was in mid-August, says Koltin, CEO of the Koltin Consulting Group, who advised both firms. “Although the accounting industry doesn’t keep statistics on the fastest merger discussions ever between two Top 200 firms, I have to assume this one now holds the record,” he said following the merger announcement this morning. BKD is ranked No. 12 on the 2016 IPA 100 list of largest firms in the country.
Kiesling, with personnel in Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Wisconsin, is well known nationally for its deep expertise in the telecommunications industry, but was interested in expanding into other areas.
“This is truly a win-win for both firms,” says BKD regional MP Barry Davis. “The combination strengthens BKD’s presence throughout the Midwest and provides Kiesling with additional resources for existing clients as well as enhanced growth opportunities beyond their current niche practice.” BKD CEO Ted Dickman says, “Kiesling’s commitment to client service and true expertise will help us achieve our goals as we move forward.”
Koltin says Kiesling is a high-performing firm with young partners, so succession was not an issue in the merger. Leaders were looking for a firm interested in their geography and that culture “trumped everything,” Koltin says. “It had to be an innovative firm with great leadership and a great place for their associates to work and grow professionally.”
Talks rapidly progressed. “The only disagreement I could recall was on a Saturday in late October and it was between the Kiesling partners about who would win the annual Wisconsin-Iowa football game,” Koltin says. “As the old saying goes, when it’s right, it’s right.”
With the addition of Kiesling, BKD will have 35 offices in 16 states and about 2,600 personnel, including more than 270 partners. It also serves clients around the world as the largest U.S. member of Praxity, AISBL, a global alliance of independent firms.