23 Feb 2024

Winners announced at DFK 3-day event in Amsterdam

DFK announces its 2024 EMEA Firm of the Year and its Emerging Leader of the Year at their conference held in Amsterdam.

DFK International, one of the world’s leading associations of independent accounting and advisory firms, has announced its 2024 EMEA Firm of the Year and its Emerging Leader of the Year at this year’s combined conferences for DFK firms’ partners and their emerging leaders held in the city of Amsterdam.

Esche Schümann Commichau, a firm of audit, tax and legal specialists based in Hamburg, Germany, was announced as EMEA Firm of the Year during the first day of the conference at the Mövenpick Hotel in Amsterdam City Centre. Marco Vermin, Vice President of the EMEA region and member of the Board of Directors of this year’s host firm, Alfa Accountants and Advisors, presented the firm’s representatives with their award. He thanked them on behalf of everyone at DFK International for all they continue to do for the association and highlighted their honourable commitment to building and strengthening connections throughout the DFK organisation. From a range of outstanding firms operating across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Eche Schümann Commichau’s overall excellence earned them recognition from across the globe.

Wolfgang Sälzer is International Tax Partner at the firm and said: “It is a great honour to be announced as DFK EMEA’s Firm of the Year 2024. We have been a member of DFK International for more than 25 years and we greatly appreciate the excellent personal cooperation across borders and the reliability of our DFK partners.

“I, myself have been a member of the International Tax Committee for many years and I chair the full-day tax seminar at the annual EMEA conferences. My colleague, Beatrix Arlitt, is involved in the International Assurance Committee and takes part in the regular virtual meetings and contributes to the newsletter.

“Moreover, we are particularly pleased that DFK International has launched the ‘Melanie Weist Award’ as part of the DFK Emerging Leaders talent programme. In this way, a project close to the heart of our deceased partner is continued and lives on.

“We are extremely proud that our joint commitment to DFK International has been recognised in such a positive and visible way. Congratulations to the entire team at Esche Schümann Commichau on this great achievement!“

This year’s conference saw the creation of a new award for the association, Emerging Leader of the Year, in memory of DFK’s much loved colleague, Melanie Weist. The Emerging Leaders initiative provides firms with the opportunity to select members from their organisation who they believe are the next generation of aspiring leaders, and enrol them on an immersive programme focussed on skill enhancement and development. It aims to cultivate the potential of particularly committed young professionals.

James Dillard from Wilson Wright, UK, was crowned as this year’s winner.

Adam Cramer, Wilson Wright CEO, said: “We are delighted that James Dillard, one of our exceptional Audit & Accounts Managers, has won the prestigious accolade of Emerging Leader of the Year 2024.

“The award was an affirmation of all that James stands for and all that he delivers on a daily basis for the benefit of clients and colleagues alike. James joined Wilson Wright in October 2022 and has quickly become a key and well respected member of our audit and accounts team.

“We are incredibly proud of James’s achievements and the award recognises his commitment to excellence in all he does; it is a further example highlighting the exceptional work delivered across the entire firm.”

James Dillard, added: “I feel very humbled by this award especially as it was voted on by my peers – I am very proud to be the recipient”.

During the conference, it was announced that as of 1 April 2024, Marco Vermin would be stepping down as Vice President of DFK EMEA. Mr Vermin has been responsible for representing the region at the executive board level and for leading the EMEA Executive Committee. He has served in various board and council roles since 2015.

President of DFK International, Stephen Bushell, commented: “Since Marco joined the DFK International Board, his tireless energy and acumen has been amazing and valuable. His passion, care for and contribution towards our Association and the EMEA region is greatly appreciated. I know he isn’t retiring, just ‘stepping down’, and his time with his beautiful family is well deserved and the DFK team wish him all the best with his future roles.”

This year’s conference was held in the city of Amsterdam and brought together over 140 delegates from around the world. Attendees were able to share in a unique, collaborative experience – exchanging knowledge, strengthening existing connections with like-minded professionals, and developing new, valuable relationships.

The conference opened with an insightful and interactive presentation by the Dutch Secretary of State for Tax Affairs and the Tax Administration, Marnix van Rij.

Sponsor sessions from Intelligent Automation Platform, DataSnipper, and UK-based accountancy IT specialists, T-Tech, exposed members to new technologies and software solutions designed to increase efficiency and maximise profitability. Lefebvre Sarrut and Gest On Line were also sponsors of the event.  

Insightful panel discussions between member firms were followed by passionate presentations from the DFK International Women in Leadership Committee. Captivating and emotive talks from keynote speakers were complemented by engaging breakout sessions focussed specifically on topical issues facing firms around the world. The agenda successfully shone a light on the unique opportunity with which delegates are provided through attending DFK’s conferences: to share knowledge and resources, build global connections and embrace collaborative innovation.

The impressive social programme featured a custom-made treasure hunt and iPad city game, enabling delegates to embark on an interactive adventure through the Golden Age of Amsterdam.

A Gala Ball held on the final night at the National Maritime Museum was a notable highlight for many. Situated in a spectacular venue, the evening brought together delegates from across the globe to share in the spirit of DFK International.

The team are now looking ahead to the next EMEA conference which will be held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2025, hosted by member firm, DFK & Associados.


About DFK International:

DFK International is one of the world’s leading associations of independent accounting, tax, and business advisory firms. With over 200 members spread across 90 countries, the association brings together like-minded firms that have a similar ethos and commitment to meeting the needs of international clients. DFK is dedicated to empowering member firms to support their clients as they seek to achieve their financial goals locally, regionally and globally. Through an extensive international network of experts, the association facilitates a collaborative environment to support the advancement of members’ practice management, technical expertise and leadership development. 

DFK’s ambition is to expand its global reach by continuing to build alliances with expert firms who embody the values and share in the mission of the association. If you would like to learn more about membership, contact Caroline Cassidy, Global Executive Officer: [email protected].