Focusing on Continuing to be a Trusted and Trustworthy Firm – Reyaz Mihular, the Managing Partner, and Yohan Perera, the Audit Partner / Chief Operating Officer of KPMG

Possessing a well cultivated successful history of 125 years in Sri Lanka, Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG) has been an outstanding professional services firm and is a member firm of the KPMG global network. Firstly, established as an audit firm, KPMG has been growing strong since 1897, further diversifying their span of services from auditing to advisory solutions. Sharing a glimpse of their elaborative collaboration, Mr. Reyaz Mihular, the Managing Partner of KPMG, and Mr. Yohan Perera, the Audit Partner and the Chief Operating Officer at KPMG enlighten us on their values and fundamentals of the Firm. 

Burgeoning a longer history with KPMG, Reyaz Mihular, the current Managing Partner, shares with pride his long journey with the Firm. Initiating his first role as an Assurance Partner, Reyaz is now in his 44th year of employment, serving under different posts and positions at his time at KPMG both locally and regionally. . “I have the world shortest CV” he laughs, “All my life in one school and then in one firm. After 5-6 years in audit function, he decides to take a giant leap and start a new division called the Financial Advisory Services t. “I had to give up the entire audit portfolio and of course the first few years were tough. But now it’s a well performing division in the firm”, he says when explaining the different roles, he performed during his time at KPMG. “In October 2004, I was invited to be the KPMG’s Chief Operation Officer for the Middle East and the South Asian region, for a period of 27 months. By 2012, I was appointed as the Managing Partner and by October 2016, I took over the role as the Board Chairman for the Middle East and South Asian region. I completed this regional role in October 2021. ”. Reyaz further mentions his position as a member of the KPMG EMA Board (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and KPMG Global Council. 

Although challenges have been an apparent factor in most multinational companies, these challenges leave stories of success and hard work to ponder on! Carrying a dense history of 125 years, KPMG functions as the auditor for many large corporates across varies industries in the country. During the initiation of their Financial Advisory Services Division, a lot of scepticism was thrown at us. Audit is a perennial business but in advisory, you don’t have regular clients. Every job is a new client.” Though the audit services encompass general financial advisory services, KPMG observed an elevation in the client’s demands towards it with emerging trends in the market. Hence, in order to satisfy the market demand for different types of advisory services, Reyaz was able to develop a blooming branch within the firm. That was the riskiest decision I ever made. I had to start over with completely new clientele. I’m glad I was able to convince the partners and believe that advisory is the new demand within the organization. Audit and advisory go hand in hand. I’m very sure that the younger generation will never be able to ignore the correlation that exist between these two” 

Pondering on the possible changes in the future at KPMG, Reyaz states that “in a dynamic business environment, especially in emerging markets, Clients have new challenges, and they need solutions. With the wide range of our current services in auditing, property valuations, real estate, financial advisory, risk advisory, IT advisory, HR advisory and Forensic services, we believe we can serve our client even better”. The technology investments made by KPMG on ERP, Oracle implementation, Java product development etc. are great boosts to  cater  to  future advancements. He further commentsWe cannot neglect technology. For example, instead of time-consuming pay rolls, we now have an app called ‘My Pay’. Clients do not need generalists. They need specialists!” he claims soundly, while stating that during the next 125 years, the firm will continue to grow as KPMG opts for solution driven and market driven resolutions. 

According to Reyaz, empathy is a strongly underrated quality and must be utilized by individuals in the exercise of their profession. This is also called emotional intelligence. Especially during times like Covid, no amount of empathy is enough. Managers and Heads of Divisions must be able to imagine what it would be to be at the receiving end, feeling what the employees feel. To me that is the greatest quality any management must possess, because if you don’t have empathy, people will leave you. Research have proven that people leave their bosses not because of money but because of lack of empathy between the boss and the employee”, Reyaz emphasises on the need to strengthen an empathetic work environment within companies.

Building a sole career at KPMG, Yohan Perera completes his 32 years, progressing through a wide-ranging portfolio of roles, currently performing as an Audit Partner/COO. Primarily joining as an Assurance Partner, he took over roles as Head of PPC (People, Performance and Culture) given the utmost importance given to ‘People’. Other areas under his supervision were Risk management, ensuring that the Firm complies with all policies and procedures of the network to safeguard the brand name.  As the COO of the firm, he also over looks back-end operations of the firm. 

Further describing the risks and challenges at KPMG, Yohan describes, initially, we were just an audit firm. But now, we have expanded our services via an advisory function, because we were able to identify the demand existing with our clients. He further adds,Our services were not hindered even during the pandemic since we were able to maintain a stable transformation thanks to the investment we had made on technology with the support of our global network. As the market continues to evolve, we too will continue to cater to our client requirements via  quality services”.

During his prolonged period at KPMG, Yohan noticed a victorious shift in various business sectors, especially the financial sector. According to him, banks have transformed into a one-stop-shop, with a wide spectrum of products to serve people with compliance under a strict regulatory framework. He comments on the current market trend , “digitalization is now even more pronounced due to the pandemic. However, I believe the penetration is not quite enough and we can expand a lot more”.  

Yohan continues to reciprocate his views on the vision and the mission of the company. He explains “I believe in high standards of values which include integrity, the courage to say the right things and excellence in what we do .” He concluded by saying, At KPMG, we have a code of conduct based on our Global framework If the tone at the top is right, it flows down in terms of clear vision, strong culture and focussed strategies to provide high quality services with integrity to our clientele”. 

Instead of constantly burdening employees with what to do, Reyaz believes it’s important to make them understand the significance of their tasks. We call this the higher purpose. Explaining the ‘why’ in a task, will trigger passion in them, making them want to complete their job with their new-found clarity, whilst maintaining high quality”, he adds while mentioning the importance of the goal congruence within management and employees. Reyaz believes in this parallel alignment and encourages management to expand their horizons wisely! 

Concluding his discussion on the experiences and expertise acquired over his 44 years, Reyaz states that it’s quite typical for competing companies to follow your footsteps. He believes that regardless of the competition, regardless of the achievements, one must go forward. “That’s why leaders exist within every trade. We lead and they follow us! Our achievements must never prevent us from moving forward. We have them to remind us what we have achieved and what more we have to do. So, never rest on your laurels. And I believe our team will do exactly that and continue to position KPMG as the Clear Choice to our clientele!”

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