Richard J Ebling
KPMG European Executive Partner
KPMG employs around 2,100 people in Central and Eastern Europe working in over 19 countries across the region and this number has grown tremendously over the last four years. One of the key factors in this development has been KPMG's strategy in doing business in Central and Eastern Europe.
The first key element has been the investment in Human Resources. Over the past two years KPMG has developed a range of training courses especially for the practices in Central and Eastern Europe. Over 2,000 people will visit these courses this year. In addition, in 1996 KPMG initiated a special MBA programme with two of Europe's top business schools exclusively for the clients and staff of Central and Eastern European offices. These and other efforts led to KPMG being ranked third as 'The Ideal Employer' behind Coca Cola and Procter & Gamble in a recent survey of graduates in the region.
A second element has been to treat each country where we have established an office separately. KPMG has not fallen into the trap of trying to make each of our offices fit into a regional scheme for Central and Eastern Europe thereby recognising the historical cultural differences and different pace of development in individual countries.
The final element of the strategy relates to KPMG's policy of building strong national practices to serve both the local and international community within a business framework that is owned and run by local nationals. KPMG's objective for newly opened practices is to provide the support for the establishment and initial years of growth before handing over to the resident national partners.
The financial services sector, for example, is one in which KPMG has achieved leadership in Central and Eastern Europe. This in fact mirrors our market share in the more developed financial centres of Western Europe and provides a strong networking base to facilitate assistance to investors in establishing their businesses.
The emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe still represent an area of tremendous potential growth for KPMG. Percy Barnevik of ABB once referred to this region as the Asia on Europe's doorstep. Inward investment is still flowing strongly and promoting solid growth in most countries as the market economies become firmly established. Wherever we do business, we offer our clients start up-assistance, change management and customised advisory services based on our familiarity with people, countries and economic conditions of that region. Consideration of national characteristics is key to successful business ventures.
Our commitment to Central and Eastern Europe is a manifestation of our confidence in the potential of that region and its people as well as in our partners and personnel and their clients.