Growing from strength to strength

Dec 01, 2017
RSM managing partner John Glennon speaks to Barry McCall about the firm’s continued growth and achievement in winning the RSM Member Firm of the Year Award.

RSM is Ireland’s eighth largest accounting firm in Ireland, with 12 partners and employing 150 people based across three offices in Dublin, Portlaoise, and Birr, Co Offaly, and providing audit, tax, management consulting and transaction advisory services to domestic and international mid-market companies.

But that only tells part of the story. RSM is also the only first-generation firm in Ireland’s top ten while also being one of the fastest growing, with an extensive global reach numbering more than 150 foreign firms as clients.

The beginning

This rapid growth story began in 1987 when Liam Ryan and John Glennon came together to form Ryan Glennon in Dun Laoghaire. “We believed two was better than one”, John Glennon, Managing Partner of RSM Ireland, recalls. “Over the next 20 years, we were joined by a number of key partners and staff and we opened our first midlands office in 2005.”

Meanwhile, Liam Twohig and George Maloney were sitting across town in their office in Merchants Quay in O’Hare Barry. The two firms came together in 2007. “Just in time for the recession!” John notes with not a little humour. “Since that time, we have admitted seven new partners and merged with Bardon Molumby in Portlaoise in 2014, and John Marks & Company in Dublin in 2016.

The RSM global network

The decision to join the RSM global network in 2016 was part of a natural evolution for the business. “In some ways, the journey of any business is a bit like the journey of a human being”, says John. “You start off small, you grow up, you evolve gradually and then along the way you arrive at a crossroads moment where you have to make a big decision about the next stage of your evolution. This has been pretty much how it has been for us and, indeed, most of our clients in the development of their own businesses.”

The firm joined the RSM network in May 2016. The move was seen as a statement of the firm’s ambition as the professional services environment in Ireland grows and evolves.

“Based on our first 18 months in the network, we are very happy with our decision to join. It has been very positive for our clients, our staff and the long-term well-being of the firm”, John adds.

The benefits of the decision for both clients and staff have been considerable. “Our clients are becoming increasingly sophisticated and globalisation is a focus for many ambitious, entrepreneurial, mid-market businesses and we needed to be able to respond to this to provide access to international markets for these clients”, he explains.

RSM Member Firm of the Year

In October 2017, the firm was named RSM Member Firm of the Year at the network’s World Conference in Berlin. “The award was actually a big surprise for us”, John says. “This is awarded by a sub-committee of the board using an agreed set of criteria including growth, integration within the network, participation in or leading global tendering opportunities, work referrals to other member firms, participation in global training initiatives and technical expertise, and capability.” 

The award recognises the firm’s hard work in leveraging the resources available within the network to enhance its overall management systems as well as its adoption of a number of the initiatives used in US and UK firms, including client feedback systems, staff engagement initiatives, learning and development tools, and international secondment programmes. RSM Ireland currently has two staff members on secondment in Boston and New York.

“We have also agreed bilateral relationships with RSM US and RSM UK, and have established dedicated international desks in both countries with resources focused on building work referrals between these locations”, John points out. “We are currently in the process of expanding our Asia desk in response to a growing appetite for services from these locations. “It is very unusual for a member firm to win the award having just joined the network, so we were very pleased with that. Of course, winning the award now places the bar that little bit higher for us! It is also very much an endorsement of the activities that we have been undertaking. It acts as a positive motivator for our partners and our staff, and raises our profile within the network as a firm who is ready and capable of taking on and servicing global client opportunities.”

In the context of the RSM global network, with 120 countries and 41,400 staff, RSM Ireland constitutes a very small part but, for its size and scale, it is certainly continuing to punch above its weight. “The award helps us to attract and retain the best people to service our clients”, he adds. “Our clients need advisors who can help them solve their problems and who will work with them to deal with business challenges as the arise. In essence, it means that the hard work of our entire team over the last 18 months has paid off.”

The future of RSM Ireland

Looking to the future, John says that clients, both existing and potential, can rely on RSM to bring the right mix of technical, commercial and operational experience to help realise business opportunities. “We are seeing an increase in the work undertaken by our management consulting and transaction advisory teams. Expertise in areas such as IT consulting, change management, forensic and investigations, and transaction services is really important to help our clients move onto the next stages of their evolution and we have invested heavily in these areas over the last few years.”

And the firm remains very much in growth mode. “The firm has grown significantly over the last 12 months and we are seeing a real increase in new business, both domestic and through investment into Ireland”, says John. “The key driver of our success is still the mid-market economy and we are very optimistic about this for the next 12 months. We currently have vacancies at a number of levels across service lines and we have plans to recruit a further 25 staff over the next six months. In addition, we will be looking to attract up to four new partners over the next year with expertise in the areas of tax, transaction advisory services and financial services.

“We recognise that what drives our business is talented people to service our clients and we are always looking to build on our current capabilities across all service lines and sectors. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent levels of service and on the quality of our relationships with our clients, many of who have been with us for years”, he concludes.