RSM names Stephen Darley as leader of Asia Pacific division

05 September 2023 3 min. read
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Looking to continue a period of exceptional growth, accounting and consulting firm RSM has hired former BDO Asia Pacific leader Stephen Darley as its new regional head.

After a six-month break, former BDO Asia Pacific CEO and long-time expat Stephen Darley has reemerged as the regional leader of RSM’s Asia Pacific practice based out of Bangkok.

A business accounting graduate of the Queensland University of Technology, Darley kicked off his 35 year career in 1989 with KPMG in Brisbane, before transferring with the Big Four firm to Taiwan less than ten years on.

RSM names Stephen Darley as leader of Asia Pacific division

Since then, Darley has spent time in senior leadership positions across the region, first as a director with KPMG in Indonesia and then at Standard Chartered, PKF, and most recently BDO, the latter where he served for a decade as Asia Pacific CEO and chairman until earlier this year. On departing KPMG, Darley also spent three years as an executive director with RSM in Hong Kong, his latest appointment marking a return to the firm.

“In a new and transformative business age, RSM’s rapid growth in the region makes it an extremely exciting time to join our network,” commented global CEO Jean Stephens. “Aligned to our long-standing relationships, Stephen’s wealth of experience and proven track record of effective leadership in the Asia Pacific will be of great value to RSM as we continue to develop new innovations which power our next phase of growth.”

On the back of 18.5 percent growth, RSM last year cracked the $1 billion revenue mark in the Asia Pacific, accounting for one eighth of the firm’s $8 billion global tally as the world’s sixth-largest entity of its kind. The fifth-largest meanwhile, BDO, now generates in excess of $1.5 billion worth of revenues in the region (or roughly 12% of the firm’s combined global take), having grown considerably under Darley’s decade-long watch.

On departing BDO in March, Darley noted the rise of the accounting and consulting firm’s India practice as one of the highlights of his time at the helm, its headcount having grown from 300 a decade ago to more than 5,000 today, including 150 partners and directors. Darley also referenced growth in Indonesia and Thailand, the latter which effectively started from scratch just two years ago after the entire local team was poached by mid-tier rival HBL.

“Asia Pacific is a dynamic economic powerhouse,” Darley stated upon his latest appointment. “The changing social and economic landscape, through increased domestic demands in China and the emergence of ASEAN and developing markets, brings great opportunities for growth. I am excited and privileged to be leading this region for RSM, as together we help businesses to realise their opportunities to prosper and grow.”

Replacing RSM Hong Kong’s Jason Yau after a three-year stint, Darley is one of a growing number of Australians now leading the big accounting and consulting networks in the Asia Pacific, including recently-appointed RSM APAC chairman James Komninos – with Darley having been originally recruited to BDO from a regional leadership role at PKF by now Australia chief executive partner Tony Schiffmann during his time on the APAC board.