Anoop Ninan, co-CEO of Mazars South Africa, is not an accountant. Strange, given that he now owns an auditing firm.

He began his career as an auditor for PwC in the late 1990s, but quickly realised that was not his passion and switched to the field of business development.

Because of this talent, his chartered accountant father expressed concern that his son “might be too boring” for the field of accounting.

His interest in corporate finance, company valuations, and mergers and acquisitions led him to EY in 2001.

The entrepreneurs he met while working at EY would have the most influence on him.

These were the people who built successful businesses from the ground up before selling them to multinational conglomerates.

An aha! moment

Ninan had a realisation at that point.

“This is the industry I want to work in, I reasoned. Dedicated to serving business owners.”

Despite the fact that he was only three months away from becoming an EY partner, this realisation (along with the realisation that he was merely a cog in the wheel of a large corporation) was so profound that he left the company.

In 2006, he began working for Moores Rowland, an accounting firm that specialised in working with privately held businesses.

The goal was to help them grow to the point where they could be listed on the JSE, bought out by a competitor, or sold to a private equity firm.

Because many smaller and medium-sized businesses were actively seeking acquisitions, this was an excellent time to join the company. Moores Rowland was one of the few firms that could provide due diligence at a lower cost than the “big four” accounting firms when the recession hit.

Ninan, for his part, was involved in several JSE listings, including that of the construction company Stefanutti Stocks.

Moores Rowland was hired as the auditor for a number of newly public companies as a result of the period’s listing trend.

Ninan’s professional development was aided by Moores Rowland’s decision to join Mazars in 2008. In 2012, he was appointed managing partner of Mazars’ Johannesburg office.

new position

When Mazars established co-CEO roles in 2018, Ninan knew he wanted one.

The organization’s people, values, and potential drew him in, and he eventually joined the leadership team in 2018.

Ninan is not an auditor, but despite recent scandals such as Steinhoff International, he remains a staunch supporter of the profession.

He emphasises that auditors are not exempt from responsibility, but they are also not solely responsible. A company’s managers, for example, oversee daily operations.

A company’s board of directors and any relevant committees also provide oversight.

Ninan acknowledges that the auditing profession is changing. Previously, they would only confirm that a transaction had occurred; however, they are now willing to comment on the contract’s quality.

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