National challenge awaits

TAKING a national accounting practise that is represented in more offices around Australia than any other, to the next stage is the challenge facing Kim Hutchinson.

Mr Hutchinson is the chairman of RSM Bird Cameron, a Perth-born practise with operations in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

Originally CP Bird Cameron, the firm joined with the international RSM group, which has affiliates through Europe and the US, last year.

He said the firm realised it was not going to grow if it just stayed in WA.

“We see one of our next phases of growth as going global,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“We’re getting more referral work coming out of Europe. We’re trying to maximise the benefit of RSM.

“I believe there is a gap behind the Big Five accounting firms in the corporate consulting market. It’s a part of the market that’s not well serviced.

“I see our accounting business as being in two areas – business advisory and corporate development.”

Mr Hutchinson said the firm had been going through a consolidation period.

“We got out of the property and finance areas. We’re concentrating on building our market both here and in the east,” he said.

“The other challenge is to pull together all of the firm’s members.

“We have to make the partner in Bunbury realise he’s in partnership with the bloke in Ballarat.

“We have the ability to work on the national scene but that comes with the question does the bloke in Sydney understand the needs of the guys in Merredin?”

Mr Hutchinson said the firm needed to make the most of technology to make its national operations work.

He said the firm’s regional operations were still important, even though the firm was sharpening its focus on the Perth market.

Traditionally, the firm’s chairman was responsible for developing both the national practice and the Perth practice.

Now the Perth office’s development has been put in the hands of Andrew Gilmour, leaving Mr Hutchinson free to keep his on the national ball.

The firm’s capital city offices will strengthen its business consulting areas, while the firm’s country operations will operate like medical general practitioners, referring special cases to the Perth office.

Besides the refocussing on the national scene, Mr Hutchinson believes the firm’s separately-owned financial planning business will be a “cash cow”.

“We’re working on developing our financial services and wealth creation and management businesses,” he said.

“It’s a fact of life that we have an ageing population.

“We will soon see the greatest transfer of wealth from one generation to the next.

“There are a lot of dollars tied up in superannuation.

“We’re in a privileged position. We’re as well placed as anyone to look after our clients in this area.”

Many of RSM Bird Cameron’s clients have been with the firm for more than 40 years, providing a strong potential market for financial services.

However, competition is growing stronger in this market, particularly in the US market.

Consolidators are coming into that market and buying up accounting practices, probably to gain access to their financial planning businesses.

Mr Hutchinson has been with RSM Bird Cameron throughout his entire accounting career.

He joined the firm in 1974 and spent the next 20 years serving in various capacities throughout WA and has been a member of the firm’s national executive since 1993.

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