PROFESSIONAL SERVICES/LEGAL | Krisana Gallezo-Estaura, Singapore

Grant Thornton aims to grow staff to 200-300 people in Singapore

Here’s what it will do differently compared to the Big Four.

As Singapore continues to reaffirm its position as the leading financial hub in Asia, the city welcomes one of the largest accounting firms in the world – the Grant Thornton.

Grant Thornton Singapore was launched on July 23, offering audit, tax and advisory services to multinational inbound and outbound clients. According to the appointed CEO for the city, Peter Allen, the launch signals their commitment not just to clients in Singapore, but also their clients across the region.

“We felt the time was right to bring the full strength and experience of Grant Thornton to Singapore with our new member firm, and our successful global model of being business partners for our clients. We have a unique entrepreneurial approach to client interaction and problem solving, with a heavy emphasis on unlocking business growth that will resonate well with local customers,” said Allen in an interview with Singapore Business Review.

Grant Thornton has been in Singapore for many years through an affiliate partnership.

Grant Thornton Singapore currently has a total of 25 employees, four of which are senior partners. According to Allen, they are looking to rapidly grow the number of their employees and aiming to grow their staff strength to 50 by the end of the calendar year. In maturity, they expect this business to have 200-300 people.

Below is the full script of the interview with Allen which highlights their plans and strategies to be competitive in the market.

1. What makes you excited about the launching Grant Thornton Singapore?

Singapore is an exciting, growing and dynamic country. Being part of this community, particularly in the 50th anniversary year makes this even more special for Grant Thornton.

We are excited to challenge conventional business methods with our unique business model and approach by providing fresh insights and strategies for businesses to unlock growth opportunities and address the myriad of challenges facing them today.

2. What three goals are you focused on?

1. Delivering high quality, responsive and creative engagements for our clients
2. Creating and embedding a culture that will attract and retain high quality talent, who have the opportunity to flourish here in Singapore, and within our global network
3. Our regional footprint is excellent, and by virtue of Singapore being a hub, a lot of our business is triangular in nature. For example, a client of Grant Thornton Australia, who has entities or operations here, is looking to make an acquisition in Thailand. Regional collaboration is therefore key for us, and our clients

3. What will you do differently compared to the Big Four?

The Big Four may be larger in terms of sheer size, but we have been outperforming them globally in a number of criteria, providing a viable alternative to businesses.

1. Our unique business model that is focused on unlocking business growth for our clients and helping them navigate through business and industry regulations.Our employee setup and training is focused on developing an entrepreneurial mindset that inspires employees to provide creative solutions for their business needs.
2. Our ratio of partners to professional staff is distinctive (1:10 compared to 1:15 among the Big Four) so clients can be rest assured of having the dedicated attention and straight-talking intelligence from approachable partners with years of experience. This way, we avoid the hierarchy and shorten the decision-making process, which empowers our people to take command and resolve issues more quickly and efficiently.
3. Grant Thornton is one of the fastest growing large global accounting organisation over the last three years. This is testament to our unique approach and business model, that has led to clients adding us on all pitch shortlists and tenders.
4. We have won key awards for management excellence and leadership development:
a. Best Programme for Leadership Development 2015 winner, Managing Partners’ Forum Awards for Management Excellence
b. Best managed international form 2014 winner at the Managing Partners’ Forum Awards for Management Excellence
c. 2015 Management Consultancies Association Awards winner for Project of the Year for a UK Kodak pension scheme project executed across 33 countries
We believe our people are our assets; investing in them pays dividends with our clients, and with the retention of our best talent.

4. What are your growth strategies?

Firstly, growth of employees for the Singapore office is definitely a key focus area for us and we’re optimistic that we will attract the right talent. We believe in the importance of work/life balance and actively encourage this in our workplace.Investing in training programmes for our staff is a key differentiator for us, and is something we take very seriously. We will give them the most comprehensive mentorship and learning experience they can achieve in an accountancy or advisory firm in Singapore, and globally.

Secondly, our focus is on multi-national inbound and outbound companies, in additional to the large amount of referral work we receive from the Grant Thornton network. We currently have over 100 clients, and are on track to doubling that number by the end of this calendar year.

We are also strengthening our relationship with key Government entities. For example, we have hired a cyber risk partner from one of our competitors who has experience in advising Government departments; this issue is high on the Economic Development Board’s agenda.

Finally, we want to help unlock business growth for our clients and help them to navigate through business and financial trends and changing industry regulations. We want to be the preferred partner of choice and invited to all pitch shortlists.

5. Is there anything you would like to add?

Grant Thornton was recently named “Employer of the Year” by the International Accounting Bulletin at the most recent award in 2014, and was also was named in a Universumsurvey of more than 240,000 business and engineering students as one of the 50 'World’s most attractive global employers.'

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