- Revenues up by 7.7% to €180.7 million
- Accounting firms benefit from RFPs
- Legal, customs, compliance and IT audit departments strengthened
Ebner Stolz: Key Figures at a Glance
Consulting from a single source is in demand
The demand for seamlessly integrated advice in the fields of accounting, audit, tax consulting, legal consulting and business consulting remained strong at Mittelstand companies in 2016.
For example, Ebner Stolz is advising ADAC in connection with its legal reorganization. The challenge is to bundle the interests of the 18 regional clubs and to create the best acquisition structure possible. In addition, a team from all four disciplines at Ebner Stolz assisted Spain-based Telefónica with the carve-out of broadcasting towers, implementing an internal control system, data migration, accounting issues and international accounting.
Audit: new Mittelstand clients
Ebner Stolz was successful in winning new audit clients in the past fiscal year. These include ConCardis, EJOT, the Festool Group, Glas Trösch, Himolla, Kamax and the SAMAG-Gruppe. The firm also won back the audit engagement for the listed company Bastei-Lübbe AG from a big-four accounting firm.
In the field of banking and financial services, Ebner Stolz was awarded the audit engagement for Trumpf Financial Services GmbH and Bürgschaftsbank Nordrhein-Westfalen GmbH after having assisted them with several one-off consulting projects.
"We are pleased that we are included in more RFPs, where we are often able to beat the competition and are awarded the engagement," says Wolfgang Russ, a partner in the Stuttgart office. However, gaining new clients has become much more complicated and time-consuming. Because of the reform of auditing legislation, the award of an audit engagement is now preceded by a more intensive selection process. "Supervisory boards must be more involved in the award of audit engagements than they were before, and they take this responsibility seriously," Russ explains.
A major issue for Mittelstand companies is IT security, as well as compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation. To meet the increased demand, Ebner Stolz has added a 10-person team of specialists to its IT audit department.
Tax consulting dominated by BEPS requirements and inheritance tax reform
At 40%, tax consulting again accounted for the largest portion of the firm's revenues in 2016. The BEPS initiative by the OECD creates a particular need for advice among Mittelstand companies doing business internationally. In particular, it has resulted in increased documentation requirements for these companies. These requirements relate primarily to transfer pricing. As a result, worldwide access to tax data in a group of companies plays a considerable role. Ebner Stolz uses a software solution for its clients that is able to handle the increased requirements.
Due to the recent reform of inheritance tax law, many family-owned companies have required assistance with succession planning. "This issue is of great concern to our core clientele, the classic family-owned business," says Russ. Along with the Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie (BDI), Ebner Stolz was the first on the market to publish a practical guide to business succession after the inheritance tax reform.
Customs legislation increasingly important
With the developments in the US and the UK, customs legislation and foreign trade law have become more important. Ebner Stolz has strengthened its expertise in this area with the addition of a new partner and her team in our Hamburg office.
Expansion of legal consulting, primarily for transactions
We have made significant additions to our legal department. "Our strategy of being a one-stop-shop for all our clients' consulting needs is blossoming, with legal issues becoming increasingly important. We have expanded our capacities in connection with transaction consulting, labor law and IT law," Russ explains.
Large projects included the sale of the bookstore chain Thalia, advising Continuum Capital in its acquisition of Esprit and assisting ProSiebenSat1 Media SE and General Atlantic with the acquisition of KäuferPortal.
Restructuring and digitalization as drivers of growth in business consulting
The main issues handled by our business consulting department in 2016 were the restructurings of larger Mittelstand companies, transactions and the establishment of strategic alliances. The demand for digital solutions is increasing significantly: mass data analyses to manage product portfolio and distribution and structuring the customer journey are the most important issues. Projects to improve the agility of organizations and optimize business models are enjoying a revival.
We successfully enhanced the restructuring department at our fast-growing Munich office by adding a new partner. Ebner Stolz will also continue to expand its business consulting practice through external growth.
Compliance is important for Mittelstand companies
There is strong demand for protection from potential business risks among Mittelstand companies. "Compliance violations by well-known companies have made our clients uneasy," Russ explains. "Compliance violations can occur anywhere in companies and result in considerable damage to their reputations. To avoid this, we address all aspects of compliance."
Employees in our new "Compliance and Investigations" department identify risks at our client companies, uncover any compliance violations and implement compliance management systems.
Mittelstand companies are doing business far beyond the borders of Germany. "And that's why international consulting is increasingly important for us. As a result, we are particularly active in the Nexia International network," Russ explains. "Business ties to the USA, the UK, China and the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) are especially significant for us." With Hamburg-based Ebner Stolz partner Markus Emmrich taking over the chairmanship of Nexia in the past year, Ebner Stolz has enhanced its position in the network with over 560 offices in more than 115 countries.
Dr. Ulrike Höreth
Tel. +49 711 2049-1371
Dr. Wolfgang Russ
Tel. +49 711 2049-1131