James Mathew

Please share a small profile on your field of business and how you came into your current role.

Chartered accountancy is a profession that is fundamental for a dynamic, evolving economy. As the global economy grapples with unforeseen risks and uncertainties, the chartered accountancy profession, and its contribution to overall economic well-being cannot be stressed enough. The audit, advisory and consulting services realm is not just limited to number crunching alone but also helps in strengthening a business intrinsically.

Today, with more regulations coming into force, businesses venturing into new markets and underlying risks posing constant threat to enterprises, the importance of leveraging the experience and expertise of auditors and business advisors is integral to being future ready.

I found my way towards the chartered accountancy (CA) profession while completing my degree in college. It was my professor who identified my acumen in Mathematics and guided me towards pursuing and completing CA successfully. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, I headed towards the Middle East in the early 90s and joined Mahendra Asher & Co as a Senior Auditor.

As a professional auditor I was guided by my mentor, Mahendra Asher to network with clients, assess and identify their organisational challenges and help them mitigate business related risks. The networking opportunities led me towards unleashing my entrepreneurial skills and finding my purpose in helping businesses thrive through their challenges.

As a next-generation CEO or team lead, what are the lessons that you wish to carry forward from your mentors?

One of my earliest lessons in entrepreneurship that I carry forward from my mentors is the significance of nurturing professional relationships. Professional relationships are an investment that entrepreneurs must make dedicatedly to drive growth. It is not necessary that every professional relationship will pay off monetarily, however there will be an immense learning curve with every interaction and collaboration.

Another important business lesson I have picked up in my professional journey is focusing on adding value to existing and potential clients. Value add is the real differentiator and entrepreneurs must constantly explore the best way to add value through their professional interactions.

What are the challenges you perceive in your field of business and how are you planning to meet them?

As a professional services firm in the audit, advisory and consulting space the challenges we face arise from the circumstances that businesses are in. Interestingly every business is unique, and each challenge is specific to the nature of the business. We address every challenging circumstance in our client’s business backed by technical expertise, professional knowledge, and diversified industry insight.

State three things that you could offer to help incentivise your team in their quest for excellence.

A team that grows consistently is bound to deliver effective results. In committing to our client’s growth story, we also bring into play our team’s growth story. Few ways in which we incentivise the team to aim for excellence are:

● Assessing core competencies of each team member and delegating key responsibilities to gauge their capabilities in delivering excellence. This often results in employees realising their untapped potential and streamlining their career aligned to their expertise.

● We are a business that caters to at least 1,500-plus clients and the trust I place within my team ensures they become brand ambassadors of the UHY James practice. One way of looking at it is the trust I place in our team pays off when we see the huge number of returning clients leveraging the team’s expertise to grow their businesses.

● There is no better incentive than growth – be it personal or professional. At UHY James we put considerable efforts towards enhancing the growth experience for our team. Driving the team’s growth is embedded within our culture and few ways in which we achieve that is by conducting knowledge-intensive workshops, training sessions to empower them on dynamic subjects within the business. The employees’ professional contributions are closely monitored to enable better decision making when it comes to rewards, recognitions and promotions.

In your view as a new-age CEO, how primed is the UAE as a hub for business and entrepreneurship?

The UAE is a country that always attracted people from across the globe. The country was also globally applauded for the diverse milestones achieved after the outbreak of the pandemic.

The UAE continually takes top spot as one of the safest cities to live in with the lowest crime rate. Powered by its strategic geographical location and widespread connectivity offered by the world’s largest airline – Emirates – the UAE showcased a rare quality of fearlessness when it opened its door to international tourists on July 7, 2020 amidst the first wave of Covid. The country reinforced its capability of welcoming tourists by the millions while maintaining the highest levels of public health protocol.

The UAE is a country that champions the culture of entrepreneurship. The country has continually ranked high on the Ease of Doing Business Index and secured the top spot in the Global Entrepreneurship Index. Being strategically located between Asia, Africa and Europe makes the UAE a preferred destination of choice for business set-up. The fDi Market report ranked Dubai 11th globally and first in MENA in terms of venture capital investments in 2020.

The UAE accounted for 46 per cent of the total venture capital received in the Middle East and Africa in 2021, and over 26 per cent of the number of transactions. The UAE government’s policies and legislative reforms nurture entrepreneurship as start-ups gain easier access to accelerator programmes, venture capitalists and global high net worth investors from around the world.

How do you see your organisation contributing towards the growth of the UAE under your leadership?

I genuinely believe the UHY James team has an integral part to play in contributing to the growth of the UAE economy. Our team of almost 100 finance experts and professionals support approximately more than 1,500 clients in total. Through our audit, advisory, tech and company set-up services we work very closely in shaping the financial well-being of entities from diverse industries.

Our efforts are directed towards strengthening businesses at a micro level and the economy at a macro level.

It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that every day when I assess businesses from an entrepreneurial auditing lens, I get to play the part of a doctor checking the financial well-being of the business entity. Auditing is not just limited to reporting accurate numbers in financial statements but also recommending the pragmatic way forward for businesses while navigating challenges. Our leadership team brings forth 150+ years of solid technical expertise and industry experience.

Through years of engaging with stakeholders, reviewing the shifts within industries, levelling up to meet compliance frameworks and assessing the growth trends of the business entity, my team and I can gauge how businesses are positioned from a financial well-being perspective.

What is the growth trajectory you have charted for your organisation over the next five years?

Our growth trajectory will be aligned to the UAE’s growth trajectory over the next five years. With approximately 600,000+ companies operating in the UAE and given the UAE’s rapidly evolving regulatory environment we believe the opportunities across Corporate Tax, AML, Cybersecurity and RERA Audit services will gain momentum.

Over the years SMEs in the UAE are also required to match pace with the dynamic regulatory compliances in the UAE, which translates to more SMEs turning the spotlight on audited financial statements and business restructuring to gain favourable impact once taxes come into play. Strengthening the financial ecosystem intrinsically will benefit small and medium enterprises in gaining better access to finance, which will further business growth and expansion.

As the economy evolves from a technical and digital standpoint, our services will level up to match pace with the needs of the business. We are positioning ourselves as a one-stop destination to help businesses meet their future-forward goals. We are clear about accelerating our compliance support offerings as the UAE is strengthening its compliance framework.

From an audit perspective we aim to strengthen the financial foundation of our client’s businesses and provide key advisory support in areas that will catapult businesses towards a secure and sustainable future.