ALFONSO OSORIO

Spain 2021 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Alfonso Osorio, President of BDO in Spain, about the company's history, the effects of the pandemic, and priorities for 2021.

BDO was founded in 1963 through a merger of four firms from the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and the US. What has the company's trajectory in Spain been like?

The BDO story is an amazing one. We celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of our global organization in 2013. Today, as an organization, BDO is powerful and well-structured. Our global organization has grown to include more than 90,000 people working in 167 countries and territories from 1,685 offices around the world. At the same time, it is one of the main international professional services networks. Thanks to the process of digital transformation that BDO initiated a long time ago, our company has improved significantly. Today, we are leaders in exceptional client service; we have a top level audit process tool and Client Portal and in 2018 we became the IAB's Network of the Year for the second time in three years. We have taken definitive steps on our path to becoming a truly digitally-focused global firm that tackles the challenges presented by the fast-paced professional services environment head on. This means all audit services carried out worldwide are implemented with the same IT application and methodology, on the same platform, through the same management systems, backed up on an exclusive BDO cloud, and run with the same control of all digital audit procedures. Our cloud-based platform that ensures a highly secure and centralized digital client experience. These tools are gaining ground right across BDO and ensure that our clients enjoy a fully connected experience from day one of the audit engagement. We have further invested in strengthening our IT infrastructure, particularly in the areas of information security, cloud services, and digitalization.

The pandemic had an impact on many companies around the world. How was BDO able to increase its business value by 7.8%. What is your view on this?

Our continued and accelerating growth rate is born of a clear strategic aim to be leader in our markets, supported by relevant business-critical acquisitions as well as hiring experienced professionals and teams in each field. We've been the fastest growing organization in our profession for the last 10 years. Centers of Excellence were established within all our business lines: audit and assurance, advisory, risk advisory, tax & legal, and outsourcing. As business post pandemic- and the modern business owner - become more global, we'll work together internationally to provide client-focused solutions, taking market-leading examples from each firm to deliver a best in class global solution.

Can you elaborate on your new model called Rethink?

Rethink was launched by BDO as a response to the problems brought about by the pandemic. Businesses are operating in a new reality. Supply chains, the workforce, sales, and financial health could have been impacted by it. So it is crucial to check that governance, risk management, and regulatory controls are still fit for purpose. Businesses may want to rethink every aspect of their business, from the business model and strategy, down. Rethink has to do with the firm's attitude towards the market, turning our services around in order to help clients, based on the stage they are at, in dealing with the pandemic: reaction, resilience, or implementation. Rethink is BDO's global framework encouraging a broad reassessment around original business models and commercial assumptions, that can be used to manage business priorities, address issues, and leverage innovative thinking. Depending on the stage each BDO client is at, we can help to review and rebuild resilience and achieve any growth opportunities they encounter.

In terms of assistance and companies support, Spain is to receive recovery funds to help companies. However, many businesses are uncertain as to how to receive this help. Has BDO put into consideration any programs to help companies get involved?

Recovery funds have a specific purpose and application, such as improving health systems, research, and innovation, modernization of traditional industries, digitalization, sustainability and climate change, etc., as projects to boost the recovery, but also a long-term perspective with the aim to prepare Europe for globalization and the changes taking place. Our approach is end-to-end. This means that we not only help companies prepare and submit their recovery projects through the appropriate application process, we also help them develop the strategies that underpin these projects, substantiate the validity of their request for funding, and assist at every stage of the dialog with both the public and private entities involved in this complex process. For this purpose, we have created two experienced teams lead by our advisory partners which focus on helping companies access these funds through a multidisciplinary approach. Like that, once the final details regarding the measures and agreements are announced, we can best assist our clients to be first in line with their projects.

What are BDO's objectives for 2021 in Spain?

We are constantly investing in service quality enhancement and the tools and methodologies which are required and expected to meet regulatory requirements and to service our growth-oriented clients. Regulatory and public policy matters have thus become a key strategic consideration for BDO globally and they are becoming increasingly important for our clients as well. Market expectations are often even higher around some of our services and public debate on a series of issues such as non-financial information reporting, sustainability, climate change, corporate governance, cybercrime, data protection, privacy, anti-fraud, anti-bribery, and anti-money laundering is increasingly visible and relevant. At the same time, we find it necessary to update people's expectations of what an audit is and how we contribute through our work to prevent any type of fraud and other situations in which auditors are limited by the established procedures and tools. BDO has sought to lead and give example through our transparency reporting locally and globally, which heightens trust in what we do and how we do it, as well as helping shape the environment in which both we and our clients operate. We are also keeping an eye on the market, our sector in Spain for potential corporate transaction opportunities aligned with our core values and objectives. Our performance is testament to the bold decisions and investments, together with the global infrastructure and digital solutions that deliver long-term value for our clients. We hope to continue along this path in Spain in 2021 and beyond.