Chicago (Feb. 23, 2004) -- Just months after a shakeup that resulted in major changes to its board and the replacement of its chairman and chief executive, top-ranked accounting and consulting firm BDO Seidman confirmed that it had laid off approximately 10 percent of its partners.

BDO spokesman Jerry Walsh said that the firm, which reported 281 partners and revenues of $350 million for its fiscal year ended in June 2003, did trim its partnership by about 10 percent, but he disputed a Chicago Tribune report that cited regulatory changes as dampening demand for tax consulting. Revenue at the Chicago-based firm fell slightly from $353 million for fiscal 2002.

"The reduction didn't impact one business line more than others," Walsh told WebCPA. "The partners affected were from all business lines."

A statement issued by the firm noted that more than half of the partners that left the firm in 2003 left as part of normal attrition, including retirements.

Back in October, BDO Seidman announced that chairman and chief executive Denis Field -- who in January of 2000 became the youngest partner to be elected chairman and chief executive of the firm at age 41 -- had taken an indefinite leave of absence. At that time, the firm restructured its board and appointed five new board members, including Jack Weisbaum, who was named interim chairman of the board and CEO, and continues to serve in those roles. Weisbaum previously served as vice chairman and special assistant to the chairman.

At that time, Walsh said the shake-up was spurred by the sweeping changes in the accounting profession. He told WebCPA in October that, "The focus of the accounting industry has shifted. There's much more focus on the core assurance and SEC practices. These changes position the firm to succeed in that environment."

Reflecting that, the firm's fee split for 2003 shifted from 41 percent accounting and audit in 2002 to 46 percent accounting and audit. Tax services fell from 41 percent to 37 percent of revenues, while fees from management advisory services were about the same, at 17 percent in 2003, down from 18 percent in 2002.

-- Melissa Klein

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