News & insight

How Kreston SVP grew by 33% in 18 months

October 8, 2020

Liza RobbinsBy Liza Robbins.

What’s the value of a Kreston membership?

Sheji Valiyakath, the Managing Partner at Kreston SVP Chartered Accountants in Qatar, is clear.

In the 18 months since his firm joined our network, “we’ve grown by at least a third,” he says – “and it is because of the Kreston brand”

The truth is that the entire story of this young, ambitious firm is, one of rapid growth. Not only is there much other firms can learn from, but there are many opportunities for cooperation as well.

Today, the firm has three partners, a senior director and 27 other staff members – but Sheji established Kreston SVP just six years ago.

“I was the Finance Director of a large listed group of companies, but I always had a passion to start an audit firm,” he told me. “You have to chase your dream!”

Even though he was starting from scratch, he did have one enormous advantage: He is a prolific networker.

He was already the past chairman of the local branch of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India – the youngest ever, at 33 – and he could leverage many of those relationships into new business.

For the same reason, he chose to join an association of accountancy firms, but he soon found that he outgrew it.

“The projects we were bidding on were always comparing us to the Big 4. They wanted to work with international firms, and we realised we needed to be part of a network, not an association.”

He joined Kreston in 2018 after diligent research showed him that Kreston “has a good future.”

As well as allowing SVP to approach bigger clients, the Kreston membership opened up whole new markets. SVP was able to join the Qatar Financial Centre, giving them access to 700 international firms listed there.

Around the same time, Qatar Petroleum started a new programme, awarding suppliers in Qatar’s giant energy industry In Country Value certificates that give them an advantage in winning contracts.

The Kreston membership allowed SVP to become one of just 12 auditors qualified to award these ICV certificates along with Big4.

And Sheji made the most of this opportunity.

“Everyone else waited for projects to be finalised, but we started approaching potential clients first. We started training and marketing and advising companies what’s coming, being very proactive. We’re now the leading ICV certifier in the country.”

And of course, the Kreston membership has also allowed them to do business with other Kreston firms – particularly in the Gulf. Sheji would welcome more cooperation with Kreston firms around the world.

“We can help you bring clients to Qatar. There is a really exciting business atmosphere in Qatar, even in the Coronavirus environment,” says Sheji. His team are now all back working from the office.

Qatar is a leading exporter of natural gas – and Sheji says that the government is working hard on growing the country’s energy sector. This is, of course, key for SVP – which also has niches in trading, hospitality, education, and construction. 

Qatar is going to be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which has led to a building boom which Sheji expects to continue well beyond the competition.

The Qatar National Vision 2030 plan – which outlines the government’s development goals and strategy – “will help Qatar boom at least for another 10 years,” says Sheji.

And Kreston SVP will be riding that wave.

As their client base has grown, Kreston SVP has expanded from audit only to include services like business consulting, valuation & due diligence, M&A, taxation services and recently transfer pricing.

Sheji has turned his passion for networking into a company-wide strategy for growth.

“We’ve joined almost every business network and business council available,” he says. “This is a small country, and so making strong connections counts for a lot.

“I believe that when we’re earning from the community, we have to give to the community too, so our employees are highly active in community services and in sports events. We’ve also become very active in sponsorship.

“It all makes us very visible and helps the business grow – you don’t have to ask for the business, people see you and come to you.”

This also helps with staff retention.

“Most of our staff have been with us for several years,” he says. “They like being part of a growing company. If we’re growing, they’re growing too.”

His next move is to become listed with the Qatar Financial Authority, which will allow them to help businesses listed on the Qatar exchange.

Ultimately, he says, they aim to become “a leading company” in Qatar. And I don’t doubt they’ll do it.

To talk to Sheji about opportunities in Qatar and potential work together, please contact him via the Kommunity platform.