On Thursday (September 01), France-headquartered tax and advisory firm, Mazars, announced two new leadership appointments at its Singapore base as the firm looks to accelerate its corporate growth strategy across the region in the new financial year. The appointments were made with immediate effect.
Lok Yung Hui (left), who joined the firm in May 2017, has been promoted to partner to spearhead the firm’s digital transformation and to ensure its future efficiency and sustainability. Managing partner and head of Audit and Assurance for the firm in APAC, Rick Chan, detailed in the release Lok’s instrumental contributions to the development of Mazars’ IT audit initiatives, which have also seen him lead a successful initial public offering (IPO) listing on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Meanwhile, Gavyn Ng (right) joins the team as a director within the firm’s financial advisory services team, with a specialism focussed on M&A and valuations. Chan underscored this area’s potential to offer the firm “significant scope for future growth”.
With their combined experience in the audit and corporate advisory fields amassing nearly three decades, Lok and Ng both offered FinanceAsia their perspectives on the Asian risk landscape.
Transformation at pace
“We have witnessed an increasing pace of digitalisation, adoption of various automation (such as robotic process automation, RPA) and blockchain technologies by companies of varying sizes in recent years. As these trends impact all companies, the skillsets required from employees are also expected to evolve to meet the growing demand,” Lok told FA.
With the accelerated pace of technology adoption and digitalisation, he underlined the need for robust corporate cybersecurity protocols: “Cybersecurity remains one of the most pertinent risks that organisations need to focus on. It is crucial for organisations to implement the appropriate controls so as to safeguard their operations against any unauthorised access to sensitive data.”
“Companies have to perform regular risk assessment and develop plans with proper monitoring to identify and mitigate the risks involved in these technologies,” he added.
In terms of regulation that he is most closely monitoring and could impact his clients, he pointed to the upcoming International Standard on Quality Management (ISQM) 1, which will take effect in December 2022, as well as additional regulations that pertain to emerging technologies.
A chartered accountant, Lok commenced his audit career in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, before moving across to Singapore where since, he has proactively explored new and innovative initiatives and has worked closely with the wider Mazars team to oversee their delivery.
Based in heart of Asia Pacific’s fintech industry, Lok shared his thoughts on the city-state’s prominence on the global stage.
“While fintech adoption has grown globally, Singapore continues to lead the pack. Singapore remains one of the countries which continually attracts investment as it provides fintech and financial institutions with a business-friendly climate and first-rate infrastructure with global connectivity.”
“These elements will assist the market in continuing to foster an environment that encourages innovation as well as investments among businesses,” he said.
In the corporate transactions space, the release noted Gavyn Ng’s extensive experience in over 100 M&A assignments across the Asian region, which to date has encompassed a variety of industries from gaming and trading to real estate. The note highlighted his specialism across M&A work pertaining to corporate finance advisory services such as due diligence, business and intangibles valuations investment appraisals and others.
Ng joins Mazars from a boutique advisory firm, which his LinkedIn profile details as Perun Consultants. He was previously based at a Big 4 firm, where he assisted energy and resources sector clients on their local and cross-border M&A needs.
"M&A - increasingly important for corporate strategy"
Conservatively bullish about the M&A landscape of the months ahead given the significant dry powder in the market, Ng told FA, “Aside from geopolitical tensions and financial headwinds, M&A activities are picking up strength and becoming an increasingly important role in corporate strategies – in order for organisations to access to new markets, generate better returns, and identify disruptive technologies for long-term transformation.”
“I am seeing a decrease in megadeal trends as investors remain vigilant due to increasing regulatory scrutiny, coupled with market headwinds on overall inflation and interest rate hikes. Yet, it is unclear if these phenomena are short-lived adjustments pre- or post-Covid-19 uncertainty.”
He added that lenders have increased their scrutiny of borrower risk exposure, but there remain large pools of capital to be deployed. “I don’t see this being relaxed anytime soon. While leveraged markets are still buoyant as traditional lending sources tend to limit their exposure, credit funds will fill the gap due to their greater flexibility on financing structure and appetite for risk – it all boils down to credit quality which will ultimately determine the overall package (such as costs and terms),” he explained.
Ng said that in the current climate, corporates should assess typical risk areas including financial, legal and regulatory risks as these have not dramatically changed, but that additional key considerations might include investigating business transformation opportunities to keep up with a fast-paced, evolving market; investment in technology and ESG matters; and selecting the right service partner with whom to navigate a deal.
Offering insights on where he sees opportunity, Ng said, “Pay attention to Vietnam and Indonesia as these emerging countries will poised to lead, followed by Thailand and frontier markets at the backdrop of immense population and increasing domestic consumption and opportunities.”
In terms of sectors, he shared “Traditional manufacturing consumer/retail sectors remain attractive. Increasingly, logistics/supply chain, financial services, infrastructure, tech-enabled businesses are often the hot targets that gather the most interest as businesses pivot away from traditional brick-and-mortar structures to boost their digital capabilities and improve the agility of a company to weather challenging times.”