• Marvin Rust

Leading Change

Alvarez & Marsal has some of the most ambitious growth plans in Professional Services. In 2019 we spoke with Martin Rust, the European Tax Lead to learn more about the firm's growth, two years on the firm are surpassing their goals. We caught up with Marvin to talk about their success, challenges and plans to dominate the market in Europe.

Marvin Rust: When we last spoke 2 years ago we had 71 heads, with a new tax office having just opened in Glasgow on 4th February 2020. Now, we are 151 heads, and we've opened in Manchester during lock down in June 2020. We opened a tax office in Amsterdam in August 2021 and expect to have 9 heads there by the end of our current financial year. We continue to see that our distinctive value proposition to clients, unique culture and philosophy of leadership, action, results, has allowed us to gain a compelling position in the market vs our competition. This is driven by many factors including strength of our senior team members, the team's ability to collaborate with Big A&M (other business service units) and the strength of our Tax and network of firms in over 50 countries.


Over the last 2 years, 41% of our hires were female and as of 31 January 2022, 36% of our Tax professionals are female up from our base line 2 years previously of 31%.

SUCCESS, CHALLENGES AND THE FUTURE


Q. What has been your biggest achievement in the last 2 years?


I think the biggest achievement in the last 2 years is a wide spread acceptance by the market of A&M tax is leading provider of tax services. This is evidenced by our continued exceptional growth rates which exceeded 70% in each of the last 2 years. Moreover, we continue to be a magnet to attracting the best talent in the market and we've continuously worked hard to retain the talent that has joined the firm.


Q. What were your biggest challenges in the last 2 years?


Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge has been managing the team largely remotely over the last 2 years as a result of the pandemic. In particular, this created some significant challenges as we have more than doubled the headcount over this period and hence we have been challenged to integrate significant numbers of new joiners in to our team during this period. The feedback we've received from our people is that we have maintained the connectivity and successfully created a working environment that has allowed our team to use our office spaces when safe to do so.


Q. Has your culture changed?


A&M has a strong culture which Tony and Brian (the co-founders) established back in 1983 with the 5 values being integrity, quality, objectivity, personal reward and last but not lead fun. We recently added inclusive diversity but essentially the culture has been consistent throughout the growth of A&M. Within the tax business we have however added a number of pillars to these culture values. There are 10 in total but just to highlight a few they include 'learn' - create a learning environment where leaders are teachers, 'character' - sweep the sheds, never be too big to do the small things that need to be done and 'responsibility' - pass the ball, leaders create leaders.


Q. Where do you see the team growing in the next 12 months?


As you know from our discussion 2 years ago, my mission was to grow the team from 23 to 200 heads in a 7 year period. We are well ahead of that plan and expect to hit the 200 mark in the next 12 months, 2 years earlier than originally thought. That growth is across all of our lines of business although we have seen and continue to expect to see that the fastest growth will be in the private equality related businesses.


Q. Where do you see the tax team in 5 years?


In 5 years' time we have to be expecting to be approaching 500 tax heads in the UK, probably having added 2 more office locations. In all likelihood, under any measure of scale, we will be number 5 in the UK at that time and will have real depth of expertise in all of our practice areas. Outside the UK, Big A&M continues to expand so I am sure that there will be more exciting developments to come.


Q. Why should a tax professional consider joining A&M?


You should consider joining A&M if you are attracted to working in a fast paced growing team with an emphasis on learning and collaboration. The opportunities to develop your career here I believe are truly exceptional as that rapid pace in the growth of our business allows us to develop and promote all of out people without any business restriction. As I noted shortly after joining to the original team of 23 to achieve the objective of building a 200 person business in 7 years meant that I needed to either hire or promote 19 partners in order to fulfill that aim. Of course we will actually meet this objective with a mixture of home grown and acquired talent professionals. The more we can attract like minded individuals to join our team the faster our growth will be. The many that have already joined will attest to the fact that the culture and environment is as the team that they met on their way in said to would be.


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