Peter Van Laer new chief executive officer of BDO in Belgium

29 July 2019 Consultancy.eu

Accounting and consulting firm BDO has announced a change of leadership in Belgium. Outgoing chief executive officer Hans Wilmots has served the maximum of three terms in the office, and will on the 1st of October 2019 pass on the baton to Peter Van Laer. 

In Belgium, BDO has around 750 professionals, generating revenues of €91 million. One of the main tasks of new chief executive officer Van Laer will be to guide the firm’s through the barrier of €100 million in the coming one to two years. 

He has big shoes to fill however – his predecessor Hans Wilmots was re-elected for the top role twice, and led the firm through a period of strong growth. In 2014 the number five player in Belgium’s accounting landscape (behind the well-known Big Four) booked revenues of €67 million, around €25 million less than the current turnover.

Alongside organic growth amid a good economy, mergers & acquisitions have been instrumental in BDO’s growth in Belgium. In April 2018 BDO acquired consulting firm Ideas at Work, four months after it bolted-on Crossroad, a digital transformation consultancy from Mechelen. Van Laer was founder and managing director of Crossroad, and joined BDO as part of the integration. Prior to establishing the consultancy, he worked for Belgian bank KBC and telecom provider Proximus. 

Hans Wilmots en Peter Van Laer, BDO

In a press statement, Van Laer said that it is his ambition to further broaden the firm’s multi-disciplinary service offering from its traditional business lines of Audit and Accounting to Advisory and Tax & Legal, as well as developing and bringing to market a number of new innovative niche offerings. He also intends to make more leverage of BDO’s global organisation and expertise “to further expand in the market”. Globally, BDO has over 80,000 employees in more than 160 countries. 

Technology will play a driving role in his strategy going forward. “Technology will become an even greater lever for growth across all our divisions,” he stated. However, “I want to keep cultivating the spirit of innovation in our firm so that it becomes an integral part of our culture – one where both people and technology are key. True connections are not made by algorithms, they require personal involvement.” 

According to Belgian newspaper De Tijd, the 55-year-old Van Laer faced fierce competition for the top role, and on the outset was not one of the favourites to land the job. Yet, his background and track record in technology consulting gave him an edge – the professional services industry is being disrupted by technology, and like any other peer, BDO needs to embrace digitisation to safeguard a sustainable future.

In the capacity of CEO, Van Laer will work closely with Johan Vandenbroeck, who per October 2019 has been appointed Chairman of BDO Belgium. 

“Peter is a seasoned technology expert who breathes digitalisation and innovation. He is in my view the perfect choice to strengthen the cross-fertilisation between all our areas of expertise and to continue the firm’s evolution into a modern and innovative organisation,” concluded outgoing chief executive Wilmots.


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