Professional Services Monitor: Today


April 15, 2009

Institutional Investor Magazine Ranks Investor Relations Departments

Filed under: Branding — psmtoday @ 9:06 am

Institutional Investor Magazine has released a study ranking investor relations departments based on surveying buy-side and sell-side portfolio managers and analysts.  While the online article doesn’t provide the exact questionnaire used, it appears that they essentially asked these analysts which companies were forthcoming and helpful in their investor relations functions.

Winners are divided by category and sector. For example, in the Financial Institutions category, Large-Cap Banks sector, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America go 1-2-3 among buy-side analysts.

February 18, 2009

BDO and RSM McGladrey’s TV Advertising Campaigns

Filed under: Branding — psmtoday @ 9:02 am

Last week, BDO Seidman announced a new advertising campaign, “People Who Know, Know BDO,” the firm’s first national campaign.  

“In recent years, BDO Seidman has enjoyed a period of unprecedented growth. It is our intention to build on that success, even in a down economy, by using advertising to further differentiate our brand and proactively market our core services beyond our ongoing public relations and direct marketing initiatives,” said Jack Weisbaum, CEO of BDO Seidman. “Our research shows that CEOs, CFOs, tax directors and corporate boards that are familiar with our firm think very highly of us. This program will help introduce the firm to a larger segment of this target audience.”

The ad campaign will include not only business print media, but also cable news channels such as CNN, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC and Headline News. Examples of BDO’s TV, print and online ads can be found at Seiter & Miller Advertising’s website, the firm’s ad agency.

Over the weekend, while watching one of my favorite channels, The History Channel, I noticed an ad from RSM McGladrey for the first time.  I cannot find any information on RSM, but given the amount of time I spend watching History Channel programs, I feel confident that the ad is new.  This particular RSM ad showed two businessmen looking in upon a conference room full of important looking people.  One asks the other, “Who are those people?”  He answers, “They’re consultants, from RSM McGladrey.”  Businessman #1 replies, “Consultants?  In this economy?”  Businessman #2 answers, “Yes, that’s why they’re here.”

In thousands of CFO interviews we have conducted following auditor changes, part of our Quarterly Competitive Summary, only once has a CFO mentioned firm advertising as a decision-making factor in choosing a new audit firm.  Our research has shown that a firm’s presence in business publications does serve a role in brand reinforcement.  Do TV ads for a non-consumer product have the depth and focus to be an effective brand tool for a professional services firm?

April 2, 2008

Ernst & Young Refreshes Its Visual Brand

Filed under: Branding,Firms — psmtoday @ 5:06 pm

Ernst & Young this week took the digital wraps off a new look for its website.  The firm retains the “Quality in Everything We Do” tagline while modernizing its look.  

‘Ernst & Young has strengthened its brand, messaging and positioning, in order to present a more consistent and connected view of Ernst & Young in its interactions with its people, its clients and the wider communities it serves,’ the firm said in a statement.

Accountancy Age first reported the firm’s plans to re-brand in October last year, but this was hotly denied by Ernst &Young’s global press office at the time. has an example of E&Y’s former look from Dec. 2006, and the new look is much improved.  And then there is the first from 1996, complete with animated GIF.

February 20, 2008

The Rebranding of Grant Thornton

Filed under: Branding,Firms — psmtoday @ 10:06 am

Yesterday, Grant Thornton announced and unveiled its rebranding effort.

Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (Grant Thornton International), unveils its new brand identity today, February 19, 2008. Grant Thornton International member firms around the world will also use the new global brand identity and logo.

As the largest Grant Thornton International member firm, Grant Thornton LLP plans to roll out the new brand in two phases. Phase 1, which concludes with the international rollout today — Feb. 19 — includes the relaunch of the firm’s new Web site, re-branded and re-designed, and a new advertising program for print, radio and television. Phase 2, which will continue from Feb. 19 throughout the rest of 2008, includes the rebranding of the firm’s: thought leadership pieces and new marketing collateral, as they are released; event materials and signage; and existing marketing and other communications.

After a 15-minute tour through Phase One, the new, I am impressed with their redesign. Visually, it looks modern and hip, but quite professional, a Web 2.0 motif adapted for serious business. The design is reminiscent of the “-r” sites, such as or, or Navigation is intuitive and the site makes good use of an adaptive three-column layout. Top level links are consistently displayed across the top, sublinks on the left, content in the middle, and highlights and other extras down the right side. The style serves the substance of the site well, bringing some simplicity to the presentation of the voluminous articles, bulletins, and service descriptions that must fill a major firm’s website.

Moreover, I am impresses with the Grant Thornton’s comprehensive investment in its brand presentation. This is a big effort and requires commitment from firm leadership over the long-term.

November 21, 2006

Big Four Competition: Ernst & Young Maintains Advantage

Ames Research Group this week released the latest Big Four Quarterly Competitive Summary, covering competitive auditor change activity between the fourth quarter of 2005 and third quarter of 2006. 
 This report covered nearly 440 events involving Big Four firms.  ARGI research covers both public and privately-held companies.
Ernst & Young continues to perform well in winning new work and doing so efficiently.  E&Y won the most new clients during the 12 months covered, and the firm won almost 50% of the engagements on which it proposed. 
Deloitte’s engagement success rate, or “batting average” fell slightly.  However, Deloitte continues to narrow its net loss in clients over a 12-month period.  Since 2003, the Big Four have collectively lost clients, but Deloitte has moved back towards a net gain quicker than the other firms.
KPMG dropped slightly in its invitation and engagement rates, but also improved slightly on its net client loss.
PricewaterhouseCoopers trails the rest of the Big Four by a significant margin in both invitations and successful engagements, and continues to have a large net loss in market share.

Ames Research Group’s Big Four Quarterly Competitive Summary examines public company auditor changes, certain M&A events, and significant private company auditor changes on a rolling basis, covering the most recent previous four quarters. In addition to studying asking the basic question of who won and who lost, ARGI’s QCS asks why the winner won and the loser lost, and what other firms were invited to propose on an engagement. The result is a detailed strategic tool for evaluating a firm’s strengths and weaknesses in winning new business.

For more information on the Big Four Quarterly Competitive Summary, please contact ARGI at (425) 275-0369.

August 17, 2006

Big Four Competition: Ernst & Young Takes the Lead

Filed under: ARGI,Branding,Deloitte,Ernst & Young,Firms,KPMG,PricewaterhouseCoopers — psmtoday @ 10:57 am

Big Four HeavyweightsCollectively, the Big Four do dominate the global professional services market. But these heavyweights are fiercely competitive amongst each other. Earlier this week, Ames Research Group released the latest Big Four Quarterly Competitive Summary, covering this auditor change competitive activity between the third quarter of 2005 and second quarter of 2006.
Ernst & Young widened its lead in winning those engagements on which it proposed. In other words, E&Y has a league-leading batting average. Overall, E&Y was invited to over 60% of competitive opportunities during the past year, and won nearly 40% off those. Through the third quarter of 2002, E&Y had led the Big Five/Four in this key competitive metric by a large margin. Following the Andersen collapse and reshuffle of clients, E&Y had to deal with the six-month suspension in 2004. Though only enforced for six months, the suspension actually impacted the firm for at least 12 months. Ernst & Young has come back strong, however, boosting its engagement success rate steadily since the first quarter of 2005.
KPMG has dealt with its own legal and market setbacks. However, in the past six months, KPMG has been putting these distractions to rest, and we have noticed the firm reasserting itself. Notably, KPMG recently hired a seasoned PR executive to a newly created position of chief communications officer. In the market, KPMG has kept its invitation rate at nearly 60%, and the firm is beginning to convert these opportunities to wins while narrowing its net loss.
While Ernst & Young has edged Deloitte in engagement success rate, Deloitte remains the all-round steady performer among the Big Four. Although the Big Four need to address their continuing net losses in market share, Deloitte has lost the least amount of clients on a net basis since late 2003. And when looking at winning situations, Deloitte won the largest share since 2004, although E&Y is catching up.
PricewaterhouseCoopers situation remains a mystery. The firm is still the largest in terms of overall market share among public and private companies ARGI tracks; PwC leads E&Y by about a percentage point. As noted above, the Big Four continue to have net losses in clients. However, PwC’s net loss appears to be growing while the Other Three are shrinking their losses.

Related: ARGI Releases Big Four Quarterly Competitive Summary, KPMG Names Two to Leadership Roles

June 16, 2006

Ernst & Young Global Adds Mitchell & Titus as US Member Firm

Filed under: Branding,Ernst & Young,Firms — psmtoday @ 9:20 am

Ernst & Young and Mitchell & Titus LLP announced today that M&T will be joining Ernst & Young Global Ltd. as a member firm.

Ernst & Young Global Limited announced today that Mitchell & Titus, LLP, the nation’s largest minority-owned accounting firm, is expected to join as a member firm. The announcement was made at the National Association of Black Accountants annual convention, taking place this week in Hollywood, Fla.
The global Ernst & Young organization consists of separate member firms in 140 countries, including Ernst & Young LLP in the United States. Mitchell & Titus will maintain its brand name and continue to operate under its current ownership through its offices in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Rutherford, New Jersey and Washington, DC. Mitchell & Titus’s membership in the global Ernst & Young organization is expected to commence by October 2006, pending the resolution of professional independence related and other outstanding matters.

A quick refresher: The Big Four operate as global alliance of member firms. There are many other US and global associations, such as PKF International
, Horwath International, and Polaris International Network. The key difference between the non-Big Four and the Big Four networks is the exclusive regional divisions. In other words, Polaris may divide its membership by state–PwC divides by country. Until now, the Big Four member firms in the US have solely been Deloitte LLP, E&Y LLP, KPMG LLP, and PwC LLP. With the Mitchell & Titus association, E&Y Global has changed that by adding Mitchell as a US member firm to the existing E&Y LLP US member.
The really interesting part of the press release comes a few paragraphs down.

As the two client-serving members of the global Ernst & Young organization operating in the United States, Mitchell & Titus and Ernst & Young LLP expect to work on some client engagements jointly, in addition to providing business referrals, where appropriate. The arrangement enables Mitchell & Titus and Ernst & Young LLP to focus on their respective preferred client segments, with the result that together the firms will provide broad-based, consistent, seamless quality service throughout the market. As a member firm of the global Ernst & Young organization, Mitchell & Titus will follow the organization’s quality and risk management and independence procedures, as well as have access to leading technological resources and the collective knowledge base of the other member firms around the world. However, as a separate firm within the global Ernst & Young organization, Mitchell & Titus will maintain its own billing and fee structure.

What appears to be happening is a marketing and brand move by both firms. Clearly, E&Y and M&T are not direct competitors. Furthermore, while Mitchell is registered with the PCAOB, the firm does not current audit any SEC registrants, according ARGI research. Thus, the firm is more focused on smaller or private companies. This alliance seems to open numerous new brand opportunities for both firms. “Mitchell & Titus, an Ernst & Young Global Member Firm” ought to be a very powerful proposition. On E&Y’s side, E&Y gains access to a segment of the market to which its specific brand is not best suited. This arrangement will be interesting to watch in the next two years.

March 29, 2006

E&Y: “No Client Is More Important Than Our Professional Reputation.”

Filed under: Branding,Ernst & Young,Firms — psmtoday @ 9:20 am

Tim Griffy WebcastErnst & Young has posted a brief video of Tim Griffy, Americas Vice Chair of Quality & Risk Management, explaining what E&Y’s brand of “Quality in Everything We Do” means.

Quality in Everything We Do is more than our tagline. It’s a promise to deliver seamless, consistent, high-quality client service worldwide. Americas Quality & Risk Management Vice Chair Tim Griffy explains our commitment to quality and what that means for our culture, our people, and our clients.

Griffy explains the how quality connects with clients, financial markets, the profession and the firm’s employees. “Only by employing the highest quality people can we provide our clients with the best service.”
Such brand reinforcement is important for the Big Four. The nature of the profession means that some of the firms’ most important stakeholders are not directly involved with purchasing decisions. In our opinion, this makes establishing a strong brand as important as it is complicated. Firms ought to seek out all opportunities to proclaim what their brands mean.
Links: Ernst & Young’s Promise to Deliver Quality