3rd November 2014
MGI member firm FCN shared a number of key insights about the French market with the International Accounting Bulletin (IAB), as the alliance posted strong growth in the country last year. Fee income rose by an impressive ten per cent in 2013 to make MGI the sixth biggest alliance by revenue in France.
Ranking alliances and networks in terms of payroll and fee income, MGI was among the top groups in this year’s annual country survey carried out by IAB. With more than 500 staff, MGIwas the fifth-largest alliance in France last year, according to the study. Fee income rose ten per cent to €47.8 million in 2013, placing it sixth overall.
Challenges and opportunities in France
For the report, FCN, which has offices across France and is one of MGI’s longest standing members of around 40 years, offered a number of important ideas about some of the main challenges and opportunities in the country for accounting firms - insights that are relevant to MGI members in many other markets.
Advisory support is one area where clients are reluctant to spend, explained Stéphane Loubières from the firm. “It can be difficult to convince clients that despite their problems they should come to us for guidance,” he said. It’s really important to show clients how the work can add value, he adds, ensuring that they don’t simply pick the cheapest accountant.
Stéphane told the IAB: “The other problem is getting paid. Our clients first pay their employees (because they have no choice), their materials suppliers (otherwise they have nothing to sell) and social contributions and tax (they don’t want to have problem with the state). Then they think that we can wait and they will only pay us when they have spare cash. It’s not acceptable when you consider that 75 per cent of our own expenses are salary and social contributions.”
How member firm FCN stay competitive
The firm has began by offering new services while developing a niche strategy. Stéphane said: “We have to be considered as a specialist in our sector and not as a generalist firm, but we still have to be able to provide a wide spectrum of services. So we help our employees specialise and train them to obtain expertise in their fields while investing significantly in advanced IT systems to obtain productivity gains.”
The importance of regulatory changes in Europe
Regulatory changes - as in many other countries, especially in Europe - is an important aspect for FCN. In particular the firm is waiting to see how the European Directive will be turned into French law. Stéphane adds: “There are various options, but the key point is the future of the cohabitation of two disciplines (chartered accountant and statutory auditor) exercised by the same professionals. The stakes are high in France, just as they are in Germany. For the joint audit question, that’s not a problem for us because we’re used to this in France, as it’s been compulsory for groups with consolidated statements for quite a long time.”
To speak to Stéphane or anyone else at the FCN team, head to their MGI World member profile page.