Interview: New accounting firm targets multinational companies

This week, our group deputy business editor, Tatira Zwinoira (TZ), sat down with Forvis managing partner in Zimbabwe, Lovemore Kamuzangaza.

After announcing its entry into the Zimbabwean market two weeks ago, professional services firm, Forvis Mazars says it plans to offer local firms “forward looking” auditing and accounting services to help them expand. The firm has a long history. It was established out of a merger between the United States-based Forvis Mazars LLP, and Forvis Mazars Group SC. The deal built an international partnership outfit which now has a footprint in over 100 countries. This week, our group deputy business editor, Tatira Zwinoira (TZ), sat down with Forvis managing partner in Zimbabwe, Lovemore Kamuzangaza. Here is how their discussion panned out:

TZ: Please tell us about Forvis. What services do you offer?

LK: If you look at what global entities want, they want one service provider in all countries. In Zimbabwe, besides whatever has been happening in this country, we still have multinational entities. Total Energy is still here, which is a French company where Mazars also comes from.

We have companies like CFAO, and Toyota. These are all French companies that are still operating in the country. They still need a service provider. As Forvis Mazars, we are coming to provide a service to those companies.

We still believe business is global, and it will continue to be global. If you look at the number of investors coming into the country, they are global. As such, being a global firm, we need to service our clients globally and offer one service across the world.

TZ: You have arrived during a period when Deloitte is leaving. PriceWaterCoopers is planning to leave. There are already established players. How are you reading the Zimbabwean market?

LK: We are coming here to compete in the market. We believe that we have a service offering that can compete. That is why we are bringing it here. It does not matter how many businesses are providing the same service in the country.

In any way, if you want to do business, you are going to do business to a product or service that is being offered already. We are coming here to compete and provide a service.

TZ: What gives you the confidence?

LK: We are unique because of our structure. We are going to provide the same service with enthusiasm. We are going to provide the same service with agility and nimbleness in the market. We are probably going to be at the top and that is where we want to be and that is what we are working towards.

TZ: So, you want to be the top in all three segments, not just focused on one?

LK: We want to be at the top of all three segments. We want to be a complete firm.

TZ: We have 40 listed companies on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, and 13 on Victoria Falls Stock Exchange. What is your pitch to them?

LK: What we are offering here is that we have invested a lot in technology. And what we are going to pitch to them is the way we do audits. We want to be partners in the business.

We are not just auditors because we are not only going there to look at their books. But we are looking to them as partners. What we are also offering to them is that besides auditing financial statements, we are going to be forward-looking.

We are going to be looking at their businesses going forward and helping them to grow. It is not only looking at historical financial statements because auditing is traditionally historical. We want to be forward-thinking. We want to provide that agility.

There have been challenges in the market over the last few years where financial statements are being delayed, publishing is being delayed. We want to bring that kind of agility to be able to support them going forward.

TZ: The Zimbabwean market acknowledges some of these shortcomings

LK: So, basically, we want to anticipate them. We want to invest time in understanding the client’s businesses. We want to understand their vision, their mission, and where they want to take the business.

We are offering this solution to grow with them and this solution to be able to lead them going forward. I have said we have invested in technology, we are looking at where technology is going and then we need to be able to service our clients by giving them greater insight into the future of their businesses.

We are always looking at artificial intelligence and robotics. That is the way to go. Artificial intelligence and robotics make organisations more efficient because if you look at it now, most organisations are probably in loss-making positions. We want to look at how to streamline operations, and how we make them better for the future.

TZ: But are you not going to find it tough? There are currently issues about reporting in the hyperinflationary environment

LK: The hyperinflationary environment, in reporting, is not going to go anywhere. But it needs somebody who is very responsive and who can act quickly. That is key.

You need to be responsive and act quickly because the environment is dynamic. So, if you do not act quickly, and if you are not agile, then you are not going to serve.

TZ: Will you be leveraging off your global network to bring investments into Zimbabwe? And if so, can you explain how?

LK: Mazars worldwide is always looking at their clients and how they are investing across the world. We also have partner meetings every year where we discuss investment opportunities in our country, and then we share with our partners. They then share with their clients. The idea of going global right now is to make sure businesses in Europe, and the US, grow.

TZ: Now, in terms of that level of investment, how much do you think you could bring to Zimbabwe?

LK: We cannot talk about figures. In investments, it is a matter of who is going to invest and what they are investing in. It also deals with how they are going to deal with the regulatory environment in the country.

TZ: Which sectors are global businesses interested in investing in?

LK: I cannot pinpoint a straightforward answer to say they are looking to invest in this or that. Like I said, it depends on the investor.

However, investors are always looking for where they can get a return.

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