By Lorraine Briscoe
Staffing problem – finding enough people to do the job – motivated local professional services firm Duke CPA Inc. to look for a partner. The partners approached national firm MNP in the fall of 2021 about a potential merger to be ready for February 1, 2022, early enough to not disrupt the busy tax season. “Within days of the merger, the added resources were paying off for a client that was undergoing an international tax audit,” says Bill Duke, one of three partners in the former Duke CPA. The two parties are pleased with how the merger is working out.
MNP, a mid-market focused firm with 125 offices across Canada, expanded its presence in Quebec in the last few years. Duke’s clientele, primarily south of Highway 10, offered MNP a complimentary territory. MNP also saw the value in Duke CPA’s bilingual team and the rigorous quality control standards that partner, Anita Fowsar, had implemented for Duke CPA to qualify as a training ground for Chartered Professional Accountants.
About the Duke CPA team’s reaction to the news of the merger, Bill says, “There was a lot of emotion the day we announced the news to the team, even some tears.” The team of 12 was reassured that nobody would be worse off with the merger. The two firms’ cultures are aligned, and staff will be able to maintain their flexible work schedules. Bill Duke’s many interests, including playing in a band, photography, hiking, skiing, writing and his volunteer work with the Butters Foundation, are testament to his belief in the importance of work-life balance. As for the reactions from Duke CPA’s clients, they have been positive, although a few have asked what this means for their fees.
It was Bill Duke’s late father who founded the firm in Cowansville in 1959. When asked how he feels about Duke disappearing from the firm’s name, Bill replied, “It is bittersweet. I think my father would be proud that his legacy has merged with a national firm.” Bill’s sons want to keep for themselves the sign on the building that bears the Duke name. A new MNP sign is in the works.