September 17, 2019

Mazars Is Going Full ‘Survivor’ with New U.S. Alliance Firms

I hate to admit this but I have a weakness for bad reality television. That used to be a shameful thing but I guess it’s kind of like trypophobia, generalized anxiety disorder, and mild alcoholism, none are all too shameful thanks to meme culture and the magic of the internet that unites us all through relatable tweets.

Anyway, one of the things I loved to watch back in the day was I Love Money (it’s actually on Amazon Prime Video right now if you want to relive Frank the Entertainer’s cringy-ass rage moments), especially the first season before those weirdos from the failed Real and Chance shows invaded.

If you’ve watched any sort of elimination reality show, you know how it goes. Alliances are formed early on and sometimes adjusted for one’s own self-interest because fuck all those other people when you’ve got to win, right? When the following bit about Mazars new “North American Alliance” was shared with me yesterday, I couldn’t help but think about episode 11 of I Love Money 2 when that two-timing bitch Myammee went back on her alliance’s deal with 20 Pack to save him from elimination if he ended up in the box and sent his ass packing. SPOILER ALERT: she ended up winning the show a few episodes later.

Let’s just get this out of the way, shall we?

Mazars North America Alliance substantially enhances Mazars’ on the ground coverage in North America, giving international clients access to an additional 16,000 professionals from five major accounting and consulting firms in the U.S. and Canada.

“This Alliance agreement is a game-changer for Mazars. We are already present in the U.S. and Canada and the Alliance significantly strengthens our capability across North America, enabling us to better serve our international clients in the region.” says Hervé Hélias, CEO & Chairman of Mazars Group.

Mazars North America Alliance is an alliance agreement between Mazars and five leading firms in the United States and Canada – BKD, Dixon Hughes Goodman, Moss Adams, Plante Moran (U.S. firms) and MNP (Canadian firm). Geographically, these five Alliance firms will complement Mazars USA and Mazars Canada, enabling Mazars to achieve full national coverage in North America.

With this Alliance, Mazars now has 40,000 professionals serving clients around the globe: 24,000 professionals across 89 countries and territories in Mazars’ unique integrated partnership, and 16,000 professionals in the U.S. and Canada via Mazars North America Alliance. With this scale and breadth of talent, Mazars offers tailored, consistent and high-quality services to its clients wherever they are in the world.

“The Alliance increases our ability to serve our international clients around the world. In a highly concentrated audit and advisory sector, this Alliance provides an alternative. We have a long history of working with these five firms and share the same values of quality, ethics and professionalism. All five firms are registered with the PCAOB (the body overseeing the audits of public companies in the U.S.) and through the Mazars North America Alliance they will contribute to the quality and expertise that our large clients expect throughout North America.” says Hélias.

As if that last bit wasn’t clear enough, it’s a not-so-subtle jab at the Big 4 oligarchy, which we all know dominates the living shit out of audit. Just in case you totally missed it despite its clear jabiness, Mazars CEO Herve Helias went ahead and spelled it out in no uncertain terms to Reuters.

“Our ambition is to become a European champion with an international scope,” Mazars’s CEO Herve Helias told Reuters on Thursday. “When they call me the fifth big, I like it.”

OK so first of all this is an alliance not a merger. Call me when you merge with BDO if you want to talk actually putting a dent in the Big 4 G.I. Joe kung-fu grip on audit services.

Second, Mazars thinking they can out-Big 4 the Big 4 by forming an alliance with a few firms no one really cares that much about is like Entertainer thinking he could successfully schmooze Tailor Made into not voiding his check in episode 8 by promising to join his alliance knowing Tailor Made had it out for him all along and never needed his basement-dwelling ass.

Curious sort that I am, I looked up Mazars revenue and didn’t even need to go to the handy-dandy Google calculator to determine they’re a long way off from competing on the Big 4 level. Look, Google even includes just how far right there for me, so convenient.

I guess we should do some math here. As always, I caution that I’m no mathlete and encourage you to do your own number crunching should you feel so inclined. I should also caution you that I went with the easiest figures to find and that these figures aren’t always easy for reasons that should be obvious.

BKD $475 million (2014)
Dixon Hughes Goodman $338 million (2015)
Moss Adams $690 million (2019)
Plante Moran $626 million (2016)
MNP $700 million (estimated)

OK so that’s … nearly $3 billion ($2,829,000,000 to be exact, but who’s counting?). Certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it would take an act of God and/or the PCAOB to really compete what with Deloitte alone coming in at an insane $43 billion last year.

Look, it’s good to have dreams. And the thought of Mazars’ French clients having to decipher Midwestern accents while some crew from Plante Moran walks them through the complexities of U.S. lease accounting fills my heart with all kinds of joy, but let’s not kid ourselves, the only way anyone is ever going to compete with the Big 4 is if one of them goes under.

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