Delano’s sister publication Paperjam spoke to the two managing partners--the outgoing and the incoming MD--about the handover, the company and its future.
After years spent auditing companies, “we know how all the coffee machines work,” laughs Marc Meyers, taking a sip of the coffee he has just been served. The 48-year-old founded Flux Audit (in addition to Flux Advisors) in 2013. At the time, Gaétan François was working as a senior manager in asset management at EY.
Ten years later, Meyers is handing over the top spot in his company, which has since become Baker Tilly Audit & Assurance, to the 44-year-old François. Since leaving EY in 2017, François has also worked for HRT Group and BDO.
Paperjam: What prompted you to step down?
Marc Meyers: I founded the company and for ten years we grew, all the way to 30 people. At a certain point, I felt it was important to give things a fresh look. Gaétan brings that fresh look. He’s always been involved in investment funds, something I haven’t really developed since it isn’t my primary sector.
How would you sum up these ten years?
MM: Our main achievement is marrying a relatively strict profession with real humanism.
And what about the figures?
MM: We’ve grown by an average of 20-25% a year. Mostly internal, through the Luxembourg partners.
Gaétan François: I joined the company in 2018 as a partner. Turnover has tripled over the last five years. We’re around €3m.
What is the size of your audit division compared with the rest of Baker Tilly Luxembourg?
MM: Baker Tilly employs 140 people. We make up a quarter of that.
What have you gained from joining Baker Tilly’s global network (42,000 employees in 145 countries) in 2019?
MM: The strength of the network is that we are present everywhere. If tomorrow a customer wants to do something in Taiwan or Texas, we can tell them that we have someone there.
GF: We have won mandates in terms of consolidation, audits of groups whose holding company is in Luxembourg. Within the network, we use the same standards and speak the same language.
Baker Tilly has been present in Luxembourg for 50 years. Didn’t it do audits before you joined the network?
MM: They had an audit department, but there were misalignments. That’s why they needed a dynamic and serious audit capability, and they found us. We had a good reputation and a client base of Luxembourg SMEs that worked well.
Gaétan, how do you intend to develop the company as its new managing partner?
GF: Auditing is a highly regulated profession. You have to maintain quality. Staff retention is a key objective. Nor should you neglect efficiency. These are the key points on which I want to focus. And to continue to serve our customers, by going to their sites more--after the covid period, which closed down that type of relationship.
We want our working hours to permit a balance between private and professional life.
How do you improve efficiency?
GF: We analyse certain files and look at how certain audits could be done differently to improve efficiency. Training courses are then put in place.
You also want to develop your investment fund client base, right?
GF: The aim is to double our share of the investment fund market without neglecting our current SME customers. Today, 33% of our sales come from investment funds, 33% from consolidations, around 20% from SMEs and the rest from associations/foundations and other audit services. The aim is to increase the proportion of funds, without putting all our eggs in one basket. To achieve this, we are mainly trying to train internally.
What are the next challenges?
GF: Quality, regulatory and legislative monitoring and the implementation of ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria. In a few years’ time, we expect to see a change in accounting law. Various thresholds (between small, medium and large companies) will be reviewed. We’ll be helping our customers through this change.
And in terms of growth, are you still aiming for 20-25% a year?
GF: If we can achieve double-digit growth every year, we’d love to. Growth is important so that everyone can progress within the company. The most important thing is to be able to deliver quality to customers and to see how the staffing situation is progressing.
We want our working hours to permit a balance between private and professional life. We regularly respond to staff requests at internal meetings and organise a lot of events, sporting activities, etc.
2023 is a year of change, with the move to your new premises.
MM: We’ve gone from 100 to 500 square metres. We now have a kitchen, a meeting room, phone boxes, eating areas with sofas, etc.
We’ve also appointed two new partners, Laurent Lessuise and Xavier Galloro, who have experience with commercial companies and consolidation.
What are you planning for Baker Tilly Audit & Assurance's 10th anniversary?
MM: A party on the rooftop of the Mama Shelter, on 21 September, to thank our team, clients and friends who have helped us grow.
What are you going to do next, Marc?
MM: We’ve begun a period of transition that will last until the end of the year. After that, there are some things that I will continue to do for Baker Tilly Audit & Assurance and others that I will do on my own behalf on the transfer of businesses. There are projects that are close to my heart, such as those linked to CSR criteria, particularly in education and the craft sector. And I’m going to hold a number of independent directorships.
This article was originally published in Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.