Building an Accounting Business in Foreign Countries

Doing business in today’s global economy requires business advisors who are well versed in the challenges and opportunities associated with international business. The opportunities for connecting international to key business faces are endless. You have look at the market and strategically decide where to focus your efforts. Which of your existing relationships can you build on? Which countries made the most sense to target? Where can you have the most impact for your effort? Where are the new local partnership opportunities?

The overall conversation must be where time and dollars are best spent if there are many events and organizations in your city concentrated on international commercial activities. Establishing an international niche, or even building onto your existing activities requires a multi-faceted approach – addressing opportunities internally, within your networks and alliances and in your marketplace, all while managing the budget and bandwidth, working with all of the divisions of your firm to decide where to allocate each. 

Networks and Alliances

Networks and alliances are a wealth of resources and connections. At PKF Texas, we leverage our positions of leadership and involvement within PKF International, PKF North America (PKF NA) and the Leading Edge Alliance (LEA). Getting involved with committees, providing content for publications and interacting on network specific forums are all key to establishing relationships with other firms in the network or alliance. Serving as chair of the International SIG and leading quarterly conference calls for LEA and leading the International Tax Community of Practice for PKF NA, has provided numerous benefits for our firm. By participating in this way, we are an integral part of the discussion of business opportunities and technical issues in the field of international taxation.

We’ve established strong referral relationships with many of our PKF and LEA partner firms and through these relationships, the firm has developed a niche practice of serving member firms located in North America with international tax consulting matters, such as entity structuring and transfer pricing.

Thought Leadership to Demonstrate Expertise

We live in a world where content is king, whether it’s through speaking opportunities, articles or creating videos, there are many avenues to display your thought leadership. Clients rely on us to be their trusted business advisor. This means showcasing our technical knowledge beyond their specific engagement.

We’ve partnered with bankers and attorneys with similar client profiles to host joint seminars, educating our clients about topics they need to know about from an international perspective. Examples of successful seminars include: the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the tax implications of foreign transactions and structuring overseas entities.

We also make presentations to external groups as well as sit on conference panels. Most recently, I spoke as a part of the Aberdeen-Houston Gateway transatlantic simulcast. It was an event designed to increase the energy connections between Aberdeen and Houston.

Relationship Building through Sponsorships and Memberships

PKF Texas has always been an advocate for doing business by building and leveraging relationships. We partner with influential organizations both business and community/culturally oriented. Our relationship with the Houston Mayor’s office, first under Bill White and currently Annise Parker’s leadership, has proven exceptionally valuable. We began interacting with the Mayor’s International Trade and Development Councils several years ago. Our team members sit on the Canada, Europe and Americas councils. Through our positioning here, the Mayor’s office has sought us out to host trade delegations, receptions and conduct educational presentations for various international groups and companies visiting the City of Houston.

Meeting with international chambers and organizations to investigate ways to partner may uncover opportunities you didn’t think were possible. For example, PKF Texas met with the World Affairs Council of Houston (WAC) to discuss their Global Houston program and how to fully leverage this relationship. The Executive Director got us involved with Global Houston, the online business hub for all things international in Houston. For a minimal investment, we are positioned as the accounting firm for international companies. We have provided videos, intellectual capital and other resources to Global Houston.

In addition to hosting seminars, consider sponsoring internationally focused education events. PKF Texas developed a Coffee with the Consuls speaker series hosted at the Greater Houston Partnership. This is held five times per year, focusing on a specific country, decided by economic trade data for countries doing business in Houston and the U.S. Featured countries have included: China, Brazil, Canada and the United Kingdom. The Consul General of the country is featured on a panel with the economic development/trade department and a company from the country. The panel is moderated by Russ Capper of the BusinessMakers Show (BMS). This series showcases Russ to a new audience, while it positions PKF Texas as the firm who can assist companies doing business in the country. It also develops our relationships with the consulates and economic development centers. PKF Texas – The Entrepreneur’s Playbook® thought leader production videos discuss topics of interest to inbound and outbound companies. We use these videos not only to disseminate information to entrepreneurs, but as a follow-up to the events where we participate in order to continue to stay in front of our key targets.

As a member of the Houston District Export Council we support and participate in the Export University program. A non-profit, volunteer arm of the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, each District Export Council produces Export University which helps American companies begin or enhance an export initiative and gain or improve on skills and innovation in expanding their international sales. Eddie Goldsberry has been on the leadership team of this group, and has represented PKF Texas for many years.

To build connections, attending major international conferences and events in your market can prove beneficial. In Houston, these include events such as the annual Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), the world’s foremost event for the development of offshore resources in the fields of drilling, exploration, production, and environmental protection; North America Prospect Expo, the world’s largest E&P (upstream) expo; and the World Trade Soiree.

The World Trade Soiree, through the GHP, is one of PKF Texas’ premier sponsorships each year. The Soiree showcases the Houston region as an epicenter of international business and influence. Drawing more than 600 of the area’s global commerce, government and economic development leaders, this salute to international trade also hosts Houston Consular Corps. Our team has played an integral role in expanding the soiree, chairing in 2009 and 2010, as well as developing the young professional (YP) after party for the international YPs of Houston to make connections.

You Can’t Forget the Face to Face

PKF Texas maintains our relationships domestically, but also our team members frequently travel abroad. We are invited as thoughtfully selected guests on trade missions, conferences and to visit/connect with alliance partners. Our team, just over the past year has travelled to Brazil, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.