Ted Verkade: 'At Baker Tilly, we push boundaries together'

20 May 2019 Consultancy.eu 4 min. read
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The CEO of Baker Tilly International, Ted Verkade, has been with the global professional services firm for nearly four decades. Verkade reflects on how Baker Tilly International is innovating to help its clients grow in the future.

A native Dutchman, Ted Verkade formally commenced his career in professional services in 1982, joining the Dutch network member of Baker Tilly as an Assistant Accountant. Having won promotion to the rank of Partner by 1996, Verkade has since scaled the firm’s leadership ranks, currently serving as Chairman of the Regional Advisory Council for the EMEA region, while holding the rank of Chief Executive Officer for Baker Tilly International since 2016.

“Pushing boundaries together,” Verkade enthused, “that is what excites me. Whatever is happening, Baker Tilly International is always focusing on delivering top quality in accountancy, tax and consultancy services. This is important, both to help our clients with growth and innovation, and for us to remain relevant, while keeping an eye on our public role in society.”

Ted Verkade - BakerTilly

With over 35,000 professionals, working from 746 offices in 145 countries, Baker Tilly International is one of the globe’s largest networks of professional services firms – currently consisting of 126 member firms. Despite the differences of doing business in such a variety of locales, Verkade explained that he remains enthusiastic about the cultural connection within the network, something which gives clients an experience of “consistent quality.” This is something the firm plans to further build upon in the future.

Verkade stated; “In 2017, we introduced a state-of-the-art control methodology and a supporting software platform. This is now being used in 70 countries and we are very proud of that. A recent milestone was the launch of ‘Billy’, our enterprise social media platform. This connects the partners and employees with each other and makes the exchange of knowledge and expertise very easy. These are just a few developments that contribute to an effective and collaborative co-operation. Our joint goal is to allow international customers worldwide to experience short lines of communication and seamless services.”

Baker Tilly International is also working to consolidate its reputation as a unified business. To that end, December 3rd 2018 was a historic day for Baker Tilly International, ushering in a new global brand, complete with an updated logo and visual identity.

“Together, the member firms are a global brand, and one which is growing quickly,” Verkade elaborated. “We use a tagline that underlines the positioning of our network: Now, for tomorrow. It means that we look ahead and do the things that make us, our people and our customers successful. We also want to contribute to the future of the accounting profession and of society as a whole. That is what we stand for.”

Leverage technological developments

With the ongoing boom in digital technology meaning demand for consultants to oversee transformation projects is still on the rise, many firms have looked to rapidly boost their technological offering. To that end, recent years have seen Baker Tilly International invest in software platforms, knowledge sharing applications and a broad application of data analysis, among other things.

Verkade said, “With smart tools we can improve our audit work on financial statements and innovate our services in other areas… We have recently set up an Innovation & Technology department. The aim of this unit is to bundle the development of new technology in the network in order to proactively unlock its potential for our customers. ”

However, positioning the firm for the era of digital business goes well beyond simply installing the right technology. According to Verkade, it also means embracing change and business leaders regularly leaving their comfort zone to do the ‘right thing’.

“Accountants hold a position of trust in society,” he concluded. “With regard to issues such as fraud, corruption and money laundering, society expects a role for accountants that goes beyond what we see as our task. A large part of our future relevance lies in what we now call the expectation gap. To close that, accountants will need to connect and take responsibility for quality development and innovation. By doing this, Baker Tilly International has ensured it will grow in the future, because quality is dynamic, and requires continuous innovation.”