We are evervwhere
AUDIT FIRMS establish branch offices to stay closer to the clients and thus serve them better. Branch offices (BO) facilitate manpower logistics by deputing staff at BO to serve the local clients.
Local clients prefer branch offices. After all, there is the comfort of buying from a local vendor! From an audit firm’s perspective, the number of locations is a prestige factor and is a first indicator of perceived size. Over the years, the importance of local presence has dwindled. There are two reasons for this:
One, better travel and accem- modation facilities. In case of large assignments, travel and accommodation is an integral part of the assignment. Staff put up near the client office in hotels or guest houses can lend better time to work than those residing far away. Cities are crowded and commuting can be a painful experi- ence. In fact, it is common today to see instances where even the audit staff residing in the same city are put up in a hotel near the client office to save time in daily commute. For this reason, large assignments may not be disadvantaged by the absence of a local office.
Two, better connectivity and cloud computing: Paper work is fast becoming a 201h-century phenomenon. Today, most things are done online. Teleconferencing and videoconferencing have cut both time and distance. This has greatly reduced the need for physical presence. Reviews can take place online. Hence, a local office is a relatively more significant factor for smaller clients than for larger clients. Yet from a perception level, locations matter.
In case of group firms, it is normal to have the same premises registered as head office or branch offices for two or more firms belonging to that group. While aggregating the number of locations for that group, common locations were counted only once. For example, Dalal & Shah (FRN 102021 W), Price Waterhouse (FRN 301l12E) and Lovelock & Lewes LLP (FRN 116150W/Wl00032) share the same address in Mumbai. This is counted as one office. However, where an audit firm or an audit group has more than one office location within the same city these were counted separately. We divided the audit firms into four categories. Here’s a snapshot.