27 May 2024

Chris Borneman speaks to IAB about firm engagement, harnessing the next generation, and the impact of tech

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In a recent edition of the IAB, MGI Worldwide CEO, Chris Borneman, shared his thoughts about his strategy for firm engagement, harnessing the power of the next generation, and the impact of technology disruption.

IAB:  What is your strategy for 2024 in terms of acquiring new member firms? Are you targeting any particular geographies or service lines?

CB: Our focus is on both retaining current members and recruiting new ones. While we have geographical areas we aim to fill, our primary focus is on cultural fit. We seek firms willing to invest time and actively participate in the MGI Worldwide family. Ideal candidates are independent firms that are big enough to matter but small enough to care, valuing collaboration and a strong regional focus. 

IAB: How are you planning to deepen and broaden your engagement with member firms to add greater value to clients?

CB: We have been working on enhancing engagement with member firms to add greater value to clients. Here's our multi-step approach:

  • Improved Access: Upgraded IT systems and a comprehensive member portal now allow everyone in a firm to have their own user account, facilitating access to MGI Worldwide resources.
  • Broader Engagement Opportunities: Beyond traditional conferences, we've introduced initiatives like the Talent Meeting in Europe, the Shadow International Committee for younger generations, and the Women Who Lead programme. We're using these models to engage diverse groups, including the next generation.
  • Increased Meeting Frequency: We have increased the frequency of our group meetings to cater to all time zones, ensuring broader participation.
  • Membership Engagement Programme: This program aims to reach all levels of a firm. For instance, a visit to a UK firm involved a session with everyone from new employees to senior partners, explaining MGI Worldwide's benefits and encouraging engagement. This approach has led to broader participation from that firm.
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ZM: What are you doing to understand the future career aspirations of the next generation of accountants and to harness their potential?

CB: To understand and harness the potential of the next generation of accountants, we are focusing on key initiatives:

  • Shadow International Committee: This committee will explore future career aspirations through discussions and events, such as last year’s Talent Meeting with a Gen Z speaker.
  • Tomorrow’s Leaders Group: This group aims to develop young accountants' leadership skills and gather their insights to prepare MGI Worldwide for the future.These efforts enhance engagement and retention by making young professionals feel valued and heard.
ZM: How is MGI Worldwide exploring the opportunities available through digital collaboration?

CB: MGI Worldwide aims to balance digital and face-to-face interactions. While in-person conferences remain vital for building trust and relationships, we've expanded our online programs, including webinars, workshops, and forums, to reduce our environmental footprint and reach more members. We also seek strong technical partners to provide essential capabilities to our firms, leveraging collective buying power to make these solutions more affordable.

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ZM: In what ways are you sharing MGI Worldwide thinking and strategy around disruptive technology?

CB: MGI Worldwide emphasises thought leadership and member collaboration to address disruptive technology. This collective approach unifies our membership, providing a common focus. The theme of this year’s annual global meeting is Artificial Intelligence, exploring how to adapt to and integrate it into our profession. While AI advances rapidly, we aim to shape its application while maintaining the essential human element in our profession.

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MGI Worldwide is a top 20 ranked global accounting network and association with over 8,000 professionals, accountants and tax experts in some 400 locations in almost 100 countries around the world.