updated 10:42 PM CEST, Jul 30, 2020

Andersen Global enters Caribbean market via collab agreement with Puerto Rican BDO tax firm

Andersen Global, the San Francisco-based organization of legally-separate tax and legal services firms that evolved out of a part of the now-defunct Arthur Andersen accountancy firm, has unveiled what it calls a "collaboration agreement" with a San Juan, Puerto Rico-based tax firm that it says will mark its entry into the Caribbean marketplace.

The full-service tax firm, BDO Tax LLC, is headed up by managing partner Gabriel "Gaby" Hernández, and it employs more than 140 tax specialists and other employees, who currently look after more than 3,000 clients, according to Andersen Global. 

Like many current Andersen Global employees – including its chairman and co-founder, Mark Vorsatz – Hernandez had worked for Arthur Andersen in the days before its demise in 2002, when it was brought down by the collapse of Enron, a Houston-based energy firm.

BDO Tax LLC was first established in February, 2000 as Scherrer Hernández & Co., after its founding partners, Hernández and Fernando Scherrer.  It changed its name to BDO after it became a part of the BDO International Network in 2012. 

An Andersen Global spokesperson said that while Puerto Rico was the company's first outpost in the Caribbean, there would be "more to come". 

'Appreciation of the importance
of working with like-minded individuals'

In a statement accompanying the announcement of Andersen Global's new collaboration deal with BDO Tax, Hernández said his backround as a "former Arthur Andersen professional" meant that he is able to "appreciate the importance and impact of working with like-minded individuals who share similar values and commitment to their clients".

Among the services BDO Tax currently provides its clients with are a range of tax and business advisory services, "including transfer pricing, private client services, transaction advisory, government contracting, accounting services and tax compliance, with a specific focus on international tax and inbound tax advisory," Andersen Global said.

Vorsatz and around 23 other ex-Arthur Andersen employees have been building Andersen Global into a global entity almost ever since Arthur Andersen collapsed in 2002, working initially from a small part of the business that survived.

That unit started out as a subsidiary of HSBC USA Inc. (known as Wealth & Tax Advisory Services), but over time it became a stand-alone firm, which adopted the Andersen name in 2014.

The company now known as Andersen Global has been built without investment from outside businesses, including private equity firms.

This had been his strategy from the beginning, Vorsatz told The American Expat Financial News Journal last year, along with his goal of trying to re-create what he called the Arthur Andersen culture.

Andersen Global differs from Arthur Andersen in that it doesn't do auditing work, which proved problematic for the original Arthur Andersen (and has also recently proved a headache for some of the biggest players that remain in that market). Also, many of Andersen Global's offices handle international legal matters, reflecting a global trend – apart from certain countries, including the U.S. and UK, where it is not, for the moment at least, legal – to combine the two operations as part of a single corporate entity.

As for the signing up of "collaborating" firms, such as BDO, as mentioned above, this is normally part of a process that precedes the incorporating of such firms into the Andersen corporate entity as "member" firms, typically after 12 to 24 months, although the evolution from collaborating firm to member firm doesn't always happen.

Vorsatz and other Andersen executives have likened the process of signing up firms as collaborators to “dating”, ahead of the corporate equivalent of “marriage”.

Following the signing up of BDO Tax in Puerto Rico, Andersen Global now has outposts in more than 177 locations around the world, through member and collaborating firms specializing in tax matters, legal matters or both.

Last month, Andersen Global announced it had added signed "collaboration agreements" with two additional firms in Africa: BICON Inc., in Monrovia, Liberia, and Fajara Chambers, in Fajara, Gambia. Vorsatz has said that expanding Andersen Global's presence across Africa is a "key priority" for his company.