Global CPA and business advisory firm Grant Thornton has kicked off a sweeping growth initiative that seeks to balloon its annual revenues to $2 billion by 2015.

Titled "Unleashing Our Potential," the roadmap, which officially launched August 1, includes an aggressive push into selected markets, attracting top-level talent, and implementing a strategy of mergers and acquisitions.

"Our vision is to become the leading firm serving dynamic organizations," said chief executive Stephen Chipman in an exclusive interview with Accounting Today. "Our goal is not necessarily to become the fifth- or sixth-largest firm, but rather to be the leading firm serving dynamic organizations in our chosen markets. We don't believe there is any firm out there that can match our integrated level of service and expertise."

Chipman included among the "dynamic organizations" that interest the firm certain high-growth start-ups, companies that are exploring overseas expansion or are involved in emerging markets, and companies that are merging and acquiring other companies.

He said that Grant Thornton, which generated $1.15 billion in revenues in 2009, has identified more than 10,000 potential clients in the dynamic organization space, encompassing midsized public companies, complex privately held businesses, and companies in private equity portfolios.

"We're going to increase our focus in such industries as consumer and industrial products, technology, especially clean technology, and nonprofits. The Big Four firms have the global and industry expertise, which we have as well, but they can't match our partner-led service model. That's where we can capture market share from them," Chipman explained.

Over the past year, Grant had closed a series of offices, divested a number of service lines and reduced its partner headcount. "We made some tough calls, no doubt," said Chipman. "But we feel that allowed us to place a more significant focus on what we need to do to achieve our growth objectives."

At presstime, Chipman also revealed that the firm's first M&A deal - with an unnamed advisory firm - under the new initiative was scheduled to close at the end of September. He said that Grant had not been active in mergers since the shuttering of Arthur Andersen, but that wasn't what he termed "traditional M&A."

"We won't do M&A just for M&A's sake," he said. "Our merger partners truly have to believe that they will be more successful as part of our organization, than they would be on their own."

For videos and podcasts of our interview with Chipman, visit

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