RSM International announced today that Baker Tilly, the UK accounting firm, and namesake of the Baker Tilly International (BTI) network, will terminate its relationship with Baker Tilly International and join RSM later this year. According to the announcement, “During this transition period, the firm will continue to trade as Baker Tilly, but will disclose prominently that it is an independent member of RSM International, after which the firm will then formally adopt the global network name and corporate identity.”
The Baker Tilly International network quickly issued a statement on their website announcing that they will be replacing their UK member firm. Geoff Barnes, Baker Tilly International CEO and President, said: “The Board of Baker Tilly International is disappointed that the UK firm has decided to leave the network. However, the network is stronger than any single firm; we have been considering this eventuality for some time and evaluating the options available to us in order to ensure continuous seamless service to our clients.”
Rights to the Baker Tilly brand will remain with the Baker Tilly International network. “It presents an outstanding opportunity for us to focus on the future,” Jim Castellano, MP of RubinBrown and Chairman of the International Board of Baker Tilly International, tells IPA. “The expression of support and solidarity among our member firms towards BTI has been quite heartening,”
Castellano adds that the membership has known that Baker Tilly UK was going to make an assessment of the value to their firm that being a member of BTI brought following BTUK’s acquisition of RSM Tenon in the UK last year. Castellano admits that he’s not entirely clear of what the motivation was for Baker Tilly in the UK to make the decision that it made, although he acknowledges that the recession that began in 2008 hit the UK especially hard, and BTUK has been exploring options to “right the ship” for a while. “The issue of what they [BTUK] intend to do with their brand in the marketplace remains unsettled,” Castellano says, adding that BTUK is not being acquired by McGladrey. “However,” he adds, “there will be significant brand confusion if Baker Tilly UK ultimately keeps the Baker Tilly name,” he adds.
Efforts have been made in recent years to strengthen the Baker Tilly name across the globe, with the U.S. flagship firm Baker Tilly Virchow Krause leading the effort in North America. ”We’re very committed to building the brand in the U.S.,” says David Pendery, Communications Director for Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, shrugging off any hint of a hiccup in the branding efforts. “It’s business as usual,” he tells IPA.