KPMG acquires Kanata accounting firm in bid to boost SME customer base

Chris Finlay
Chris Finlay is joining KPMG's Ottawa office as a partner. Photo courtesy KPMG

KPMG has acquired a Kanata accounting practice that caters to small and medium-sized businesses, the latest M&A transaction in Ottawa’s professional services industry as firms jockey for position in a competitive marketplace.

The accounting giant said this week it’s finalized an agreement to buy Vanguard Professional Corp., a six-person firm that provides tax planning and preparation, accounting and other advisory services. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Vanguard founder Chris Finlay, who now becomes a partner in KPMG’s Ottawa office, had a brief stint with the multinational firm’s local operation earlier in his career. 

That connection as well as his focus on serving owner-managed businesses in the retail, professional services and manufacturing sectors helped seal the deal, said KPMG enterprise partner and Ottawa practice leader Charles-Antoine Rozon.

“We’re looking for that practitioner that knows how to work with entrepreneurs … which is very different than a very corporate-based environment where you’re dealing with a board of directors or a very high-level CFO,” he told OBJ on Tuesday. 

'A different mentality'

“It’s a different mentality, and that’s what we were really looking for. That’s what Chris brings to the table.”

One of the “Big Four” global accounting giants along with Deloitte, Ernst & Young and PwC, KPMG has a major presence in the National Capital Region. It employs about 250 people at its Ottawa and Kanata offices, making it one of the city’s largest professional services firms.

The Netherlands-based organization isn’t the only major accounting firm that’s made a recent move to raise its profile in the Ottawa region. 

Earlier this month, Alberta-based MNP said it was adding about 80 former Deloitte employees and five partners to its operations in the capital in a deal between two of the country’s largest professional services companies.

Andrew Newman, KPMG’s office managing partner in Ottawa and Kanata, said the firm will continue to seek out other M&A partners in an effort to grow its share of the local market.

“Small business is big business for us, so we’re very much interested in other acquisitions,” he said. “I’m hopeful there’s more to come.”