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By Deana Driver
Published April, 2007
Publication: The Bottom Line
When asked what the future looks like for Western Canada’s accounting giant Meyers Norris Penny LLP, CEO Daryl Ritchie has only one word: “Great.”
It’s no wonder Ritchie exudes such enthusiasm about the firm he has worked at since 1978. From the day the firm moved its head office to Calgary in 2001, MNP has written its own success story of steady, measured growth.
“If you look at our volume, we broke the $100 million mark in 2003,” said Ritchie in an interview with The Bottom Line.
“In 2006, we’re up 22 per cent over last year but we’re up nearly 70 per cent from 2003, and we expect we’ll be over $200 million this fiscal year, so it’s not just a one year growth.”
Meyers Norris Penny is once again the only top 10 national chartered accounting and advisory firm based in Western Canada. The firm is holding strong in seventh place and is not too likely to move much higher, as the national firms handily sew up those spots. Still, this firm from the west is making gains in its market and is planning more strategic growth in the future.
In 2006, MNP added an office in Estevan, Sask., and on January 1, 2007, opened two offices in Surrey and Duncan, B.C. The company expanded existing offices in Edmonton and Kenora with firms that already had a strong practice in the Aboriginal market niche.
“We also did a merge during the year in Red Deer but we already had a location there and that was adding an insolvency practice,” said Ritchie.
“We have a strategy to branch out across British Columbia in a controlled systematic way,” he added. “You do a few, and then you do a few more. We look for firms that share our vision, that share our culture, that are quality firms.”
Ritchie explained that British Columbia is a market that MNP entered four or five years ago “and that is one of our focuses, to continue to grow our number of locations in British Columbia . . . . On Vancouver Island, we went to Nanaimo, then to Courtney, then to Campbell River and now we’ve gone to Duncan, and we’ll be looking to add Victoria.”
Meyers Norris Penny plans to continue merging with likeminded accounting firms that can benefit from an expanded offering of services available through the larger company.
“The services they have are pretty consistent with what we have and we usually broaden their service offerings,” said Ritchie of the merge partners.
“Nothing’s changed as far as direction. We’re simply carrying on the course we set a number of years ago,” he said about MNP’s immediate future. “We continue to have strong growth numbers and it’s coming across the board in all areas – geographic, service line, niche line. Organic growth (growth from within) is far in excess of merger growth. Our public company practice is growing at quite a fast rate.”
Although everyone knows that Alberta’s economy is strong, Ritchie said the same can be said for all the western provinces.
“We’re practising in a very strong economy. Our brand is growing. In the last couple of years, we’ve become a full-service firm. You’d find that, whether you looked at Winnipeg, Manitoba or Calgary, Alberta. We’re seeing good growth numbers across the board.”
One of the few areas that isn’t growing as fast organically is insolvency, said Ritchie, which makes sense given the strong economy. “But we are increasing our coverage in insolvency. We are expanding our insolvency practice at this time and moving it into more locations.”
Meyers Norris Penny is also experiencing growth in its international affiliation business.
“We’re seeing a lot more work coming across the borders from the different countries as well now . . . . In our particular case, the majority is in Alberta and British Columbia. You do see them in all the western provinces. This is part of what we’ve been trying to do . . . build the network stronger, and we’re seeing the benefits of that.”
So, in the next 12 months, expect to hear about a few more mergers and expansions of MNP into British Columbia. Look for MNP to expand further in types of services offered and don’t be surprised if the firm hits the $200 million mark sooner than expected.
“We will continue to grow,” said Ritchie with confidence. “We’re certainly going to be growing our public company niche. We’ll be growing all of our service offerings. You won’t see a lot of new locations in the prairie provinces.
“You will see new locations in British Columbia, and we expect to see strong growth numbers for the coming years.”
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