BDO USA LLP has merged Argy, Wiltse & Robinson, P.C. into the firm. The combination will go into effect on Nov. 1.
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Argy primarily serves government contractors throughout the U.S., a component that BDO wanted to expand on, according to BDO CEO-elect Wayne Berson. “Argy has the leading edge reputation in government contracting and we plan on leveraging them as a center of excellence in their sector,” he said in an interview with Accounting Today
Argy is bringing 225 professionals and staff, 26 of whom are partners, to the combined firm. The Argy staff also has experience in the nonprofit and technology sectors and private client services.
“I feel great about it,” said Argy president and CEO Paul Argy. He made up his mind to merge with BDO after feeling that the firm was at a disadvantage. “Our larger clients were being cherry picked by the big companies because we weren’t a national firm," he said. "The message kept getting repeated like a broken record.”
Argy thought it would have been a good idea to grow the firm through acquisitions. “The reality of it is that it takes time and we still wouldn’t have an international platform.”
The tables turned in December when Koltin Consulting Group CEO Allen Koltin asked Argy if he had ever considered an upstream merger. “No, why?” Argy asked. Koltin convinced Argy that consolidators are looking to enter the D.C. market because it’s a hotbed for opportunities and that Argy is considered to be a premier firm. “We have the government contracting and high net worth niches, which are very attractive,” Argy said, explaining that he took Koltin up on his ideas and went through the process. In the end, Argy decided to go with BDO.
"For BDO this is the first of what I think will be many mergers this year,” Koltrin said in an email. “They definitely have the right culture, resources and leadership, and will probably bring in a significant number of Top 200 firms over the next couple of years.”
Berson, who was elected to succeed Jack Weisbaum, will officially take over as CEO on Nov. 1. He said he always intended to grow the firm through acquisitions. The CEO-elect said he looks for deals that will provide one or more of his three priorities. His must-haves include expanding the firm’s geographic coverage in new strategic markets, gaining critical mass in major existing markets, and adding resources in existing industries or services.
“In Argy, I believe we found a firm that has all three of those traits," said Berson. "New markets would be McLean, Va., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Critical mass, in terms of expanding our existing footprint in the greater Washington, D.C. and Southern Florida markets. And thirdly, the new industry practice, government contracting. They have a fantastic national reputation in government contracting.” Berson noted that the combined practice will have close to 400 people in the Washington, D.C., area. “That will put us in the No. 7 position in the D.C. market. We were No. 15. From a Washington perspective, this is really something good.”
BDO has offices in Philadelphia, Pa.; Wilmington, Del.; Bethesda, Md.; Richmond, Va.; and Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. The addition of Argy, which is headquartered in McLean, Va., gives BDO a larger footprint along the East Coast, given that it already has offices in Bethesda and Fort Lauderdale. Berson intends to continue to build BDO’s presence throughout the Atlantic region. “If you look at the Washington area and head north toward Philadelphia, New York and Boston, these are all major markets where there are many firms and potential opportunities for BDO to grow through M&A,” he said.
Berson sees his strategic growth plan for BDO as an ongoing process, and he continues to have discussions with numerous firms around the county. “There’s a lot of interest in joining BDO,” said Berson. “I would be surprised if we didn’t have more turnouts in the near future.” The executive didn’t feel comfortable putting a timetable on the next deal, but he hopes to seal another one by the end of the year.