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There Might Be a Big Merger in the Works For FORVIS (UPDATE)

Woman lips with hand whispering in mans ear with speech bubble. Pop Art style, comic book illustration.

Update: It’s Mazars. Full update below. The word “rumor” has been removed from the headline.

Fresh off the rumor mill via the tip box:

Forvis, in its laughable quest for global domination (WE DONT WANT TO BE THE BIG 4), is going to announce another merger/acquisition this week, presumably to leapfrog GT and BDO in the Americas or establish significant footing overseas.

FORV/S (ugh why’d I type that) currently sits at #8 on the IPA Top 100 with $1.7 billion in revenue. BDO and GT are at #6 and #7 with $2.8 billion and $2.3 billion in revenue, respectively. Going by the IPA numbers that means a $1.1  billion difference between FORVIS and BDO, merging with any of the top 9-15 firms would get them there by next year. Those firms are:

IPA Rank Firm Revenue
9 CliftonLarsonAllen $1.7 billion
10 Baker Tilly $1.6 billion
11 Crowe $1.3 billion
12 CBIZ + MHM $1.2 billion
13 Marcum $1.2 billion
14 Moss Adams $1.1 billion
15 Plante Moran $1 billion

Well we can immediately disqualify CLA — our tipster did — for a few reasons (and not our tipster’s reason of FORVIS having no respect for them): After identifying a few cases of CLA declining reappointment as auditor for some clients, we confirmed CLA is 100% pulling out of the public company audit game along with a few other mid-tiers. FORVIS picked a few of these clients up (that we know of, probably more) so it makes no sense that they’d end up back where they were. CLA CEO Jen Leary also said this in a recent Bloomberg Tax interview:

With no new acquisitions on the horizon, Leary said she is focused on improving the value of the enterprise for the next generation of CLA owners. Partnering with private equity, as other firms have done, isn’t in the cards. “We don’t need outside capital,” she said.

Our tipster seems to think the merger will be an international one. This June 2023 Charlotte Business Journal profile on post-merger DHG and BKD plans seems to back that up:

The first name that comes to mind when one thinks about international firms is Mazars but that “would be shocking,” said our tipster. Mazars USA (IPA 100 #31, $258 million in revenue) and Le Mazars are both fellow members of the Praxity alliance Forvis is in, as are Moss Adams and Plante Moran. The bulk of Praxity firms are overseas (to us) excepting Toronto’s MNP which requires no sea travel to get to from Springfield, Missouri.

If you remember, we’ve been through this before with FORVIS (before there was a FORVIS). In February 2022 a tipster told us two big Praxity firms were about to announce a merger. At that time, we had these to choose from:

  • Aronson
  • BKD
  • Dixon Hughes Goodman
  • Kaufman Rossin
  • Mazars USA
  • Moss Adams
  • Plante Moran

We of course know now that it was BKD and DHG that combined forces to become the horribly named FORVIS. BKD and DHG were in the 14th and 17th spots (respectively) on the IPA 100 in 2021, the FORVIS merger bumped them up together to #8 in 2022.

Our tipster suggests that if it is a US firm, that firm will be Moss Adams though it seems unlikely. We’re told there should be an internal announcement this week, hopefully we haven’t totally ruined it with this post.

Speculate away and let’s get the jump on offering GOOD possible post-merger name ideas to prevent another FORVIS ok?

Update (11.14): First off, you people in the comments are wild. Thanks for that. Can you all please pick a commenter name though? All the Anonymice are confusing.

As some suspected, the FORVIS merger is a union with Mazars. Here’s the kicker — we’re told FORVIS will be “absorbing” Mazars USA (IPA Top 100 #31, $258 million in revenue) and merging but not merging with the real Mazars (revenue €2.45 billion, approximately $2.7 billion USD). Once things are official on June 1, 2014 the firms will operate as FORVIS Mazars (wasn’t it hard enough to explain what “FORVIS” means to Americans??) and eventually drop the Mazars after 18 months.

The official announcement should be dropped tomorrow, November 15 in an 8am webcast. [Ed. note: *to employees. Someone in the comments seemed to think this was to be a public one]

One other thing of note, it’s our understanding that this play has been in the works at least since the DHG/BKD merger and that the creation of FORVIS was just one step in a three-year plan. It sounds like FORVIS will be setting its sights on new markets as soon as the ink is dry on the Mazars deal. Finally, we understand what they meant by FORWARD VISION. More on that later.

Update (11.15): Financial Times published a story this morning.

70 thoughts on “There Might Be a Big Merger in the Works For FORVIS (UPDATE)

  1. lol how bad are these firms’ balance sheets to need to keep panic buying/merging? I’ve worked for both Moss Adams and CLA, and their profitability and owner comp would shock even Big 4 partners. So it’s definitely not them and doubt it’s anyone in top 15.

  2. Forvis not having respect for CLA or anyone else in the top 10-15 is rich considering DH and BKD’s history. Two mid-tier firms combining didn’t suddenly make them top, as their name and marketing team prove.

  3. The announcement is at 8am on Wednesday, with a replay later in the day, that rules out Moss Adams or really any US based firm.

  4. Armanino is my guess. Operates in FORVIS’s missing footprint, just dissolved their SEC practice so are probably prime for acquisition, etc.

  5. Wouldn’t surprise me if it was Moss Adams. 6-7 years ago, as a MA partner, I was involved on the periphery of heavy BKD & MA merger talks, and I really thought it was going to happen then, but the MA Chairman at the time nixed it. Now it even makes more sense, as MA’s current Chairman has more of a M & A background. MA wants to continue to expand eastward, and Forvis the same westward, into MA’s stronghold. There’s a strong culture fit between the 2 firms, and Plante Moran as well, so it could involve all 3 firms.

    1. Mazars is my guess too. I suspected it before writing the post due to some additional info I didn’t publish but especially so if these comments are accurate (shitposting is always a possibility).

  6. Mazars has a global meeting at 8am eastern on Wednesday so either they are the merger counterparty or it is just a crazy coincidence.

  7. Mazars is quite a bit larger globally so at first glance it seems like that wouldn’t be it. But looking at the revenue split if they were to merge, it’d be a near 50% split US/International fees. Might make sense for each of the firms to increase their market share in markets they don’t have any significance in.

  8. As a FORVIS employee, I will throw my ragged corpse off the top of a skyscraper if this is true. The current merger has NOT been a good time.

  9. As another current FORVIS employee, the recent merger has been as fine as a merger can be. I think this would be welcomed news.

    1. My guess is US day-to-day client service operations wouldn’t change much for established FORVIS offices and we would continue on the path we are on. It would just generate a new international component and Mazars USA would merge into FORVIS methodology.

  10. As a FORVIS employee, I am seriously sad that the constant flirting between L/BKD and Moss Adam has not resulted in a merger

  11. Potential name options:
    1. MERGE (because why not?)
    2. To stop the forvis name backlash they adopt BKDDHG (pronounced B K double D H G) and don’t even think twice about incorporating any other firm initials because this is perfect.
    3. With the merger of , Forvis becomes Furvis (Further Vision).
    4. In 2026, when they merge in the combined Armanino and Aprio (otherwise known as AA) Furvis will transform into Farvis (Farther Vision).

    1. Wow… just perfect. I wish they would have hired you instead of the atrocious marketing buffoon they went with.
      The onlything better would be FORCHAN (Forward change)

  12. If it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, you can call it an eagle all you want, but it’s still a duck.

  13. It’s Mazars first… they are both making the announcement at the same time tomorrow. once done, they will make it happen with Moss Adams and Plant Moran right after (probably a few months to a year). they will become after the full combination a ~$5b business in the US and able to compete with big 4 on larger audits

    1. It’s my understanding that they don’t want to compete with Big 4 but dominate the middle market space and serve the clients deemed not huge enough for Big 4 but still large. So like Big 4.5 but their own thing.

      There will absolutely be more mergers to come but I bet they’ll be as surprising as this one. I highly doubt Plante but Moss Adams definitely.

  14. What is funny to me is how snarky this chain began (including the original comments by the author) and now has become an engaging conversation about a smart and forward thinking approach to creating an international network focused on the middle market and beating competitors to the punch. Too many people on this site think they know it all and if you are not a Big 4 “folk” you don’t matter, but the reality is the Big 4 are complacent and too big to truly be relevant/competitive to the middle market. If you think being a Big 4 auditor is the pinnacle of success… you need to get out more!

    1. Have you met FORVIS partners though? I’ve never met a less qualified, dim-witted, country bumpkin group of “professionals” in my life.

      1. lol.

        The name bashing is fun, but who really cares what they are called? Bashing country bumpkins can be fun, but not really. lol

        at the end of the day, organizations will pay their fees and they will grow and absorb 🙂 all the other $250M-$500M firms and you will still be here calling them dim-witted and less qualified. oh snap!

      2. Tell me you have 2 years or less in public accounting without telling me… in all honesty, you talk like an intern with an offer letter from a big 4, as opposed to an actual, professional accountant.

  15. Just some thoughts from over the pond. Mazars is a real brand name in Europe and in particular France. No one has ever heard of Forvis. I just can’t see them dropping the Mazars brand completely even after 18 months. And second, at the law firm I moved to ten years ago we had a similar dismissive ‘country bumpkins’ attitude to an up and coming firm called Dentons. Through a ruthless approach to M&A and growth they expanded to become the largest law firm in the world if not by revenue then by growth.

    And as a former reporter I am also disappointed they are already an hour late with their announcement. Stick to your deadlines.

    1. The 8 AM announcement was an internal announcment. They were right schedule. There wasn’t supposed to be an 8 AM public announcement…other individuals mixed them up.

  16. Can any current Forvis employees confirm if they do discretionary employee bonuses on top of annual comp adjustment? Or speak to their comp more generally?
    I recall hearing at least one of the pre-merger Forvis firms was considered pretty cheap on employee compensation. Wondering if that has changed post-merger.

    1. Current FORVIS employee here. I have never thought of that and especially the last two rounds of comp adjustments which have been pretty significant. FORVIS has a lot of smaller office in markets such as Bowling Green where there may not be the same salary as paid in NYC, but I think the firm takes care of these people as well. Just my guess. There also is discretionary bonuses.

    2. They do a performance based bonus after busy season. These bonuses are nothing substantial, as I was ranked as a top performer and mine was pretty underwhelming.
      FORVIS starting salary is definitely below market.

    3. The cheap firm was BKD. They had no performance based bonuses before the merger. DHG had one and Forvis does as well. I was pleasantly surprised with my bonus at the manager level. I know some staff and seniors weren’t too happy with their bonus but most were happy with their raises the last two years.

  17. Dear Valued Client,
    We are excited to announce that FORVIS and Mazars have agreed to form a unique global network, effective June 1, 2024. This move is not a merger. It is two firms creating a new top 10 global network in the industry and operating under a single global brand—Forvis Mazars.
    As the world becomes more connected, we are evolving to meet your changing needs. Mazars, with offices in more than 100 countries, has realized amazing success over the last 40 years, rising in prominence and working with some of the most recognizable brands in the world. FORVIS was built on a 100-year legacy of providing an Unmatched Client Experience®, becoming a top 10 firm in the U.S. while looking toward an expanded global platform. Together, we are creating a new global network that will be unique—a network of only two members—that will have the scale, capacity, and coverage to support our clients’ needs worldwide.
    Today and always, we remain committed to delivering an Unmatched Client Experience® that is responsive, personal, and feels right for each of you. Forvis Mazars is structured to be nimble, act fast, and together with lean, aligned leadership, deliver more consistent and agile services worldwide. Our geographic footprints and respective experience complement each other and through Forvis Mazars, you will be able to seamlessly access full-scale international coverage, as well as a truly national U.S. presence, with superior local intelligence.
    Why are we forming a global network? To better serve our clients with international needs and be ready to grow with our clients as their global needs evolve one day. In addition, this ensures that our firm remains strong for the long run. It’s a unique and dynamic time in our profession, with an unprecedented amount of change in our competitive landscape. We continue to see the consolidation of audit, tax, and advisory firms coupled with unique entrants into our profession’s ownership structure. By forming this unique network, we have made sure that our strategic position is such that we will continue to provide the best level of service to our international clients, attract top talent to our firm, and enable our firm to serve your needs far into the future.
    In the U.S., Mazars USA will join FORVIS, and we will then become a $2 billion firm, strengthening our position as a top 10 U.S. firm. We will expand our presence in the U.S., to approximately 7,000 team members and over 625 partners and principals active in more than 70 markets.
    We are excited about our future and look forward to continuing our commitment to you and our team members as we come together as a global network. We hope you will join us in celebrating this positive development, and we look forward to discussing how it can benefit you. We will share more information in the coming months to keep you well informed of this exciting expansion. Should you have questions, please contact your client service leader.

    Tom Watson, CEO

  18. On behalf of Mazars, I am excited to announce that Mazars and FORVIS will form a new global network, effective 1 June 2024.

    This evolution significantly advances our U.S. strategy, further building on the Mazars North America Alliance formed in 2019, of which FORVIS is a member. The new network will operate under a single global brand, ‘Forvis Mazars’ and apply global standards for quality and service delivery. This means Mazars retains its international integrated partnership and DNA, continuing to serve you in the same way, other than in the U.S. where we will now partner with FORVIS, a top 10 U.S. firm.

    We believe this new network will have the scale, capacity and coverage to support our client’s needs worldwide, while maintaining our existing focus. We see it as a positive development for our clients for several reasons:
    • Client service excellence: We remain committed to delivering an unmatched client experience that is responsive, personal and right for you. Both firms have excellent people, meaning you will have access to a broader, deeper pool of top talent with the skills, industry experience and international knowledge to best serve you.
    • A deep understanding of your business: Mazars and FORVIS are both sector-led and have excellent knowledge of our clients’ businesses and their industries. Together, we can provide greater insight and specialism. Our community of experienced and proactive professionals understand your business challenges and opportunities and are well-equipped to serve you today and in the future.
    • Global reach: Our geographic footprints complement each other well and with the new network, you will be able to seamlessly access full-scale international coverage, as well as a truly national U.S. presence.
    • Agility at scale: Forvis Mazars is uniquely structured to be nimble and to deliver consistent, high-quality, comprehensive services worldwide, flexible to your specific needs.
    We are excited about this development and look forward to continuing our commitment to you and our team members as we create this global network with FORVIS.

    I welcome any questions you may have and look forward to discussing more in the coming weeks and months as we prepare for the network effective date, 1 June 2024.


    Anoop Ninan
    Country Managing Partner
    Mazars in South Africa

  19. Forvis have a small London office already down street from Mazars own. Suspect that will be shut and staff there fired and rehired as Maxars UK employees.

  20. Announced on all team webinar at Mazars today that name change is subejct to all-partner votes in Forvis and Mazars under terms of agreement. Managing Partner of UK said he thought would “never” remove Mazars from name; was quite categoric.

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