What it does: Fifth-largest accountancy network in the world
Staff stats: Globally, over 60,000 people in 154 countries. In Australia, 1192 staff, 155 of whom are partners
The good bits: Supportive and friendly working culture
The not so good bits: Long hours, stress, lots of business travel
The BDO story
Like many businesses of its type, BDO is the result of numerous mergers. In 1963, several accountancy firms from Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US came together to create a multinational that was originally known as Binder Seidman International. A decade later, it became known as BDO, an abbreviation of Binder, Dijker and Otte & Co (three of the core firms that merged to create the business). Some member firms continued to trade under their traditional business names until 2009. At that point, all the BDO member firms, which were then operating in 110 nations, changed their names to BDO.
BDO was established as an association of firms in Australia in 1975. Today, it’s one of Australia’s largest associations of independently owned accounting practices with offices in all Australia’s major cities. BDO Australia’s clients include entrepreneurs, private businesses and large corporations. BDO is a full-service audit, tax and advisory firm and BDO Australia staff do all of the following: auditing, business recovery and insolvency, corporate finance, forensic services, indirect tax, risk advisory, tax, consulting, wealth management and servicing private clients.
Each BDO member is an independent legal entity in its own country. Historically, the US arm of the network has had the biggest headcount but it appears likely to be overtaken by China in the next few years. Globally, the network had revenues of $US7.6 billion in 2016.
Though not one of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy multinationals, BDO is a serious challenger. It both competes furiously with the Big Four for business and prides itself on having a “successfully different” corporate culture to the 800-pound gorillas of the accountancy industry. While conceding all professional services firms can seem similar, BDO argues it is different because “relationship-driven culture, global and local resources and responsiveness underpin BDO. Relationships, resources and responsiveness are the bedrock of our brand promise.” BDO staff can expect “a collaborative culture where you’re a name not a number”.
BDO Australia embraces Corporate Social Responsibility. It seeks to make a social contribution both by bankrolling worthy causes and allowing staff to donate their time and expertise to organisations that are seeking to make the world a better place. Globally, BDO is “committed to making a real difference in the following areas: community, charity and care”.
The recruitment process
Graduates with accounting, commerce or business (accounting major) degrees are encouraged to apply. Being able to demonstrate good communication skills, drive, proven academic achievement and strong team focus will all count in your favour
Individuals have entered the grad program in various ways, with some doing little more than submitting a CV then sitting a couple of interviews. The one constant seems to be dealing with BDO Australia’s People and Culture department. The chances are you’ll go through the conventional process of submitting your CV and academic transcript online, doing a phone or Skype interview with someone in HR, then taking part in a group interview, as well as being interviewed one-on-one by a manager and a partner. There may also be online tests and accounting assessments.
Salaries are around the industry average but there is no bonus scheme. You can expect some free meals and social events and discounts on everything from football tickets to health insurance. You’ll do the Chartered Accountants (CA) Program. As well as having all your education costs covered you’ll also get paid study leave.
After you’ve completed the grad program you’ll have access to ongoing training. This will develop your technical abilities and build your consulting, leadership and management skills. There are lots of opportunities to work in other parts of BDO’s international network.
From your earliest days in the grad program you’ll have the opportunity to be doing real client work and building your network. You can expect a performance and remuneration review in the middle of every year. If you’ve done well, you can expect a promotion shortly after this annual assessment. As with any business, it becomes more difficult to ascend as you advance and the leap from accountant to manager can be tricky.
The vibe of the place
While not better or worse, BDO does have a workplace culture that’s different to that of its Big Four competitors. It’s a company that devotes a lot of attention to nurturing good relationships including with its staff. That being the case, you can expect to feel valued and to be given the tools needed to reach your full potential.
Star Rating: 4.1
From the Employer:
"There are many world-class accounting firms, and BDO is one of them, however few offer a culture as rich in professional opportunity, personal fulfilment and long-term growth. At BDO, exceptional client service underpins our belief system and all aspects of service delivery to our clients.
BDO is a global full-service audit, tax and advisory firm in the world. We have almost 65,000 people working out of 1,400 offices in 154 territories. At its core, our business is about more than numbers or spreadsheets, dollars or cents: we are about people working with, for, and in service of others. Because relationships matter to us, we have a high regard for our people.
From your first day, you will have the chance to get involved in real client work, receiving support from your Partners and team at every step.
Our national portfolio of clients includes many well-known Australian and international brands across multiple sectors, giving you the opportunity to work with exciting and diverse clients and with different Partners.
BDO is focussed on the development of your career through meaningful career conversations and performance discussions. We offer technical and non-technical training for staff at all levels to help support your professional advancement.
At BDO, flexibility is about how we work together in a way that meets both your needs and those of our clients. We understand that while work is important, so are other aspects of your life. We welcome the opportunity to work with you to create a balance that meets your needs, while ensuring we can deliver exceptional client service.
BDO offers graduate opportunities across our offices in Australia, as well as vacation or cadet opportunities in some offices.
- BDO in Australia is part of BDO International
- We are the fifth largest accountancy network in the world
- Globally we were founded in 1963
- The acronym BDO comes from the three founding member firms’ original names Binder Hamlyn (UK), Dijker & Co (Holland) and Otte & Co (Germany)
- We have more than 60,000 people working out of 1,328 offices in more than 152 territories.
- The Australian network began in 1984 and today is one of Australia’s largest associations of independently owned accounting practices
- We have offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney
- We employ over 1,200 people nationally (including 160 partners and directors)
- Clients range from large corporate organisations to private businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals across a wide range of industry sectors."