New faces at the top

Praxity welcomes Bindi Palmer and Steffen Ahrens to the Board

Bindi Palmer and Steffen Ahrens have been appointed to Praxity’s Management Board as part of several changes at the top.

The new appointments coincide with the arrival of new CEO Samantha Louis, who takes over from Graeme Gordon at the end of the year to become the first woman to lead the Alliance. In a shift towards a more inclusive culture within the global association, Bindi also makes history as the first female member of the Board, soon to be joined by Samantha, while a further change sees Steffen join Praxity’s Governing Council.

Strong experience

Both Bindi and Steffen bring strong audit and international experience to the team, with focus on the needs of smaller and mid-tier firms and their clients. Audit specialist Bindi is Head of Audit and Assurance and lead Partner for due diligence on acquisitions at Rouse Partners in the UK. She is experienced in group reporting, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), US GAAP, FRS 102 and Sarbanes Oxley requirements.

Her client portfolio ranges from growing owner-managed businesses to international groups and large corporates. She is chair of Praxity UK Audit Working Party, a forum of audit professionals within Praxity, and in 2016 was awarded for services to accounting in the British Indian Awards. Commenting on her new appointment, she says: “I am delighted to be joining the Praxity Management Board at this very exciting time in the profession, where quality global solutions and support are needed more than ever by our member firms and their clients. “I particularly look forward to working with my fellow board members on the continued focus towards quality standards, joined up approaches and collaboration throughout the Alliance, as well as embracing diversity and inclusion. “Praxity is a great example of how likeminded firms can come together to support our teams and clients globally. We hope to continue driving forward the value offered to our member firms in this ever-changing environment.”

Voice of smaller firms

German born Steffen, a Partner at FALK for 22 years, is a highly experienced international audit and tax specialist and strong advocate of Praxity’s collaborative approach, especially among smaller firms within the Alliance. He says: “I embrace the idea of Praxity and I embrace the responsiveness and good working relationships that we have. In my role on the Governing Council and Management Board, I am giving a view from the perspective of medium-sized firms. There is an expectation among these firms and I will be speaking up for their interests. I think we can spice it up and give it another angle of thought.” Steffen has a particularly strong knowledge of US tax, having registered as a CPA in the United States and completed a secondment at Price Waterhouse, New York.

He is already a prominent figure within the Alliance as Regional Chair for Europe, Vice-Chairman of the Praxity Assurance Committee (PAC), and Chair of the Global Audit and Assurance Working Group. Working with PAC colleagues, he has put forward several new initiatives, including databases for thought leadership and IT support, and a directory of ‘go to’ people for audit, tax and consultancy. Steffen says he is keen to continue this PAC role to bring about positive change, adding: “I will carry on as long as there is a need for it. We all think that as long as the committee can provide value, we will regroup and give it our best effort. If the recommendations we have put forward and effected can change collaborations for the better, we will continue.”

Win-win situation

He is also eager to demonstrate how being an active member of the Alliance is a win-win situation. “Coming from a firm which is medium in size, with 400 people, there is an unspoken expectation from within FALK that by helping Praxity thrive we are helping ourselves,” he explains. “At some point in time almost all of our clients have a global interest in anything from taxation and accounting to restructuring, due diligence, M&As and cross-border audit. Being well connected within the PRAXITY family makes all the difference in the world and ensures better service for our clients. “Notwithstanding the necessity for different service lines and the various specialists leading them, we have embraced the concept of a concierge desk, limiting the number of ‘go-to’ people in our firm, both for insourcing as well as outsourcing engagements. We have also developed our mentoring and networking capabilities. Under Praxity, we bring all this together to work on cross-border assignments for our clients, and the clients of other Praxity participant firms.”

Steffen and Bindi were appointed to the Board on 23 April 2021 while Steffen joined the Governing Council on 1 January 2021 following the resignation of Kurt Schweighart, formerly of LeitnerLeitner. The role of the Board is to manage the Alliance’s corporate activities, including admitting new participant firms from around the world. The nine-strong team consists of leading figures in accountancy, each with a wealth of expertise in global collaboration. The Governing Council comprises of a 13-strong team whose purpose is to refine and focus Praxity’s strategic direction.