March 26, 2012 / 6:51 PM / 6 years ago

New CEO at accounting firm BDO USA aims for growth

March 26 (Reuters) - The 270 partners of accounting firm BDO USA selected Wayne Berson, 50, as their leader for the next four years, it was announced on Monday.

BDO USA, with $572 million in U.S. fee income last year , is the seventh-largest accounting firm in the country, according to International Accounting Bulletin.

There is room for U.S. expansion, Berson told Reuters.

“We have to get bigger. The world is more and more global,” said South Africa-born Berson, a U.S. resident since 1987.

He replaces Jack Weisbaum, 72, who is retiring after his second term as chief executive.

BDO’s worldwide network had 2011 fee income of $5.7 billion, compared with the smallest Big Four firm, KPMG’s $22.7 billion, reported International Accounting Bulletin.

Large U.S. cities are Berson’s initial growth targets, among them New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and his home of Washington, D.C. He expects acquisitions to play a key role.

Berson does not believe that mandatory auditor rotation, currently being considered by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, is the way to improve audit quality.

The PCAOB regulates the auditing industry. The idea it is considering would require corporations to switch auditors every few years to make them more impartial.

BDO was the largest beneficiary of 2002’s post-Enron Sarbanes-Oxley auditing reforms. The firm picked up more public U.S. clients in the reforms’ aftermath than any other firm.

BDO has faced criticism by the PCAOB in annual auditor inspection reports, as have the other large firms.

“No doubt it’s a headache,” Berson said of the reviews. “It’s almost like a necessary evil,” he said.

Berson is the first audit partner to lead BDO since the 1990s, and has been through PCAOB reviews himself.

“We don’t file it away for next year,” Berson says of the PCAOB’s feedback. “We absorb it into our process now.”

Berson joined the firm Sept. 11, 2001, after BDO acquired his prior firm, Lang Group. (Reporting By Nanette Byrnes; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh)

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