The firm puts its success down to a mix of investment in digital transformation, including robotic process automation, blockchain and bot technology, which has led to a more responsive and agile service to clients, and a strategy of growing the business with strategic mergers.
Last year the firm undertook 20 mergers, a number of them in the Caribbean where BDO merged with new firms in Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica and Grenada, replacement firms in St Vincent & the Grenadines and in Aruba. Puerto Rico completed the largest ever merger on the island, pushing BDO into the number 1 slot in the region.
Other mergers took place in Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, South Africa, Spain and the US, increasing BDO’s global spread to 162 countries and helping to grow the global headcount by 9.04% to 73,854.
Top performer throughout the year was the Americas region, which saw revenues grow by 9.62% to $4.29bn. Asia Pacific grew by 5.11% to $1.16bn and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) by 3.81% to $2.68bn.
Audit and accounting services now accounts for 57.43% of the combined turnover, up from 57.26% in 2016. Both tax and advisory have reduced slightly to 21.71% and 20.85% respectively.
BDO’s global chief executive, Keith Farlinger, who took up his role at the end of October, said he was proud that BDO had adapted successfully to such a competitive marketplace.
“Globally, BDO continues its ongoing consolidation journey with its expansion to acquiring business-critical players such as cybersecurity companies,” he said.
“Drawing on these global knowledge resources, our firms are now taking the next step to become efficiency-enablers and accelerating the digital transformation of our clients, as befits our leadership position in this most innovative market segment.
“In this age of acceleration, we will continue to invest in technology, working together with our business partners, to further help our clients. Without doubt, BDO is becoming a digital-first organisation and using data to create insight and value for our clients.”
He said he expected BDO’s services approach to change in the near future as the operating models for the primary service lines become more aligned and automated.
He added that he was “excited by the opportunity” that BDO had created for itself in the global marketplace.