Firstly, MRI’s conferences and training events provided the latest information on global trends in the field; and secondly, membership opened the door to Rimess’ imminent expansion into Latvia and Lithuania.
Although Mati Nõmmiste and Eva Veinberg were guided by the ‘small is beautiful’ mindset in the early years of building up Rimess, the idea of looking for expansion opportunities in neighbouring markets soon came up. MRI also wanted to have a presence in all of the Baltic States, so work began in this direction.
Nõmmiste and Jérôme Adam, Head of MRI Europe, visited Latvia and Lithuania for the first time in December 1995. Their goal was to find suitable candidates among audit firms in Estonia’s southern neighbours who were interested in becoming members of MRI. Such companies were found, but there were setbacks in the years that followed: there was swift turnover in Latvian and Lithuanian MRI member companies, with one or another leaving and new ones replacing them.
Nõmmiste explains: “In the second half of the nineties, a number of our clients also had business operations in Latvia or Lithuania and we were able to serve them in cooperation with the accounting and audit firms that were part of MRI. However, this work was disrupted somewhat by the constant turnover of MRI members: pretty much as soon as we were working smoothly with one of them, they left MRI. We had to start from scratch with the next company and explain to our clients why we were changing partners yet again. We wanted to expand Rimess’s activities anyway, so we decided that we should buy up some of the audit firms in Latvia and Lithuania and set up a joint venture to serve clients in the Baltic States.”
The Estonians didn’t simply intend to try their luck with their neighbours in the south. Their vision was very specific: to become the best audit, financial and business advisory firm in the Baltics. The goal was also to be among the top five audit and advisory firms in the Baltic States as a whole. In Estonia, this goal had long been achieved; work in Latvia and Lithuania now lay ahead.