James Mathew

A quick overview into the business landscape reveals critical issues that need to be addressed - streamlined B2B payment ecosystem, equipping businesses with better cash flow management, focusing on channels to expand revenue, and understanding the significance of managing the interest rate increase.

“With more than 94 per cent companies in the UAE classifying as small and medium enterprises and an estimated 60 per cent invoices being settled late in the UAE, delayed payments is a critical challenge facing businesses across the UAE,” says James Mathew, CEO and Managing Partner, UHY James. Lack of a well-oiled payment ecosystem leads to a cash flow crisis, which in turn impacts revenue cycles and credit scores that weaken the business at its core, says Mathew.

“In the last few months businesses have been witness to interest rate hikes, which could disrupt the cash flow of the business due to surge in costs,” says Mathew, adding, “as an entrepreneur who has been working closely with businesses from diverse sectors for 30+ years, I strongly recommend stakeholders realise the importance of managing “cost related surprises” so that the financial equilibrium of the entity is maintained effectively.”

In an exclusive interview, Mathew highlights sectoral challenges and opportunities.

Please share a brief on your company and product portfolio.

UHY James is a trusted and reliable partner in the UAE audit, advisory and consulting space for more than 30 years, and has been instrumental in strengthening enterprises of varying capacities by offering pragmatic and competitive solutions that catalyse the growth story of the business.

We are headquartered in Dubai, with a flourishing presence in other emirates. UHY James has successfully built and sustained the trust of regulators and clients alike. After rigorous on-boarding procedures the firm earned its place among the select 17 registered auditors who were approved by Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) in DIFC and Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) in ADGM.

Our service portfolio is designed to support every business in any stage of its life cycle.

● Audit & Assurance

● Tax Advisory

● RERA Audits

● Internal Audit & Risk Consulting

● Corporate Finance

● Accounting & Bookkeeping

● Strategy & Transformation

● Technology & Cybersecurity

● Company Incorporation

● Trademark

● ESG Reporting & Advisory Services

● Business Continuity Management Services

● AML Services

What are the challenges you foresee for your sector in 2023 and how is your brand planning to overcome them?

I don’t see challenges for the professional services sector, however there is momentum that is expected as corporate tax is coming into effect from June 2023. The compliance regime for businesses will have to be strengthened at varying levels, be it from an AML standpoint, transfer pricing standpoint or from an audited financials perspective.

As a team of six partners carrying 200+ years of experience and expertise, four directors navigating the needs of various businesses and 120 finance professionals, we are well poised to handhold businesses in the UAE in their growth journey. Our team has subject matter experts and specialists who carry global experience that will prove instrumental in strengthening the business’ stronghold in the post pandemic era where cash flow management, risk assessment and robust compliance is non-negotiable.

With Dubai hosting COP28 this year, how is your company hoping to contribute to the nation’s climate sustainability and carbon footprint goals?

Sustainability is taking centre stage across the globe and by hosting COP 28 in November 2023, Dubai reiterates its commitment in meeting sustainable initiatives and carbon footprint goals. We at UHY James are well poised with our ESG reporting and advisory services that are integral in helping businesses meet their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) priorities and standards. Our in-house ESG experts backed by solid technical knowledge and relevant industry exposure can help businesses bring down costs, accelerate efficiency and improve the ability to benefit from sustainability megatrends.

Satisfied staff equals satisfied customers. Would you believe in this phrase and if yes, how do you plan to carry this narrative forward through your teams?

We are a service-based industry and our employees are our brand ambassadors. There is no denying the fact that happy employees result in happy clients. At UHY James we have endorsed and embraced this philosophy and have had the privilege of working with most of our clients year after year. As our tagline highlights, we stand committed to our client’s growth story and our team collectively endeavours to live out this philosophy through each of our service deliverables.

What are your company’s expansion plans over the next 5-year term?

Our growth and expansion has been mirrored by the unprecedented growth of the UAE. As the country establishes ambitious goals and strategies for diverse industries, we are positive that from an audit, advisory, risk and taxation perspective there will be immense opportunities to explore and develop. As one among the select 17 auditors registered with DFSA, DIFC and FSRA, ADGM we aim to strengthen our position in the two financial free zones in the UAE — DIFC & ADGM. A robust compliance framework builds the foundation of an organisation and we are in the business of strengthening the compliance journey of UAE entities and those across the region. Plans are underway to expand our footprint in Oman under the brand UHY James over the next few months.

As a corporate CEO, what is the mantra you follow while leading your teams through failure and success?

As a CEO running a business in an economic climate where nothing is predictable I strongly believe in showing up for yourself and your clients and focusing on the next step forward. In all practicality it is impossible to predict where the world is headed in the next one year hence, I believe it is essential to have a crystal-clear long-term vision and reach the goal by taking effective and relevant steps that will yield results in the short term.