MGC & KNAV, For Organizations Seeking Seamless and Value Driven Risk Advisory Services
“I had read a play written by Shakespeare in my 12th standard and took away a significant message from a statement in the same – ‘I wasted time, now doth time waste me.’ This statement signifies the importance of making the most of the present and has stayed with me as a strong belief since then.”
Monish Gaurav Chatrath
MGC & KNAV Global Risk Advisory LLP (‘MGC & KNAV’), which was formed with a vision to ‘be the best providers of risk advisory services, wherever it operates’ has in a short period of three and a half years shown that it takes more than a brilliant idea, a great team and money to create a successful organization – and that too a leader in the sphere within which it operates. The mantra of this success story has been a clear vision and unwavering belief in the realization of the same. A focussed risk advisory services organization that understands the pain points of its clients and is able to progressively, effectively, efficiently and passionately address the existing and emerging challenges by giving them value-oriented solutions. It is inspiring to see how this organzation that started with a simple conviction has quickly progressed to not only setting new standards in terms of delivering a wide array of risk advisory services but also earning several recognitions such as ‘The 10 most promising GRC firms’in India for 2017; and ‘The risk advisory services firm of the year’ in 2018. Most importantly, MGC & KNAV is today the first port of call for the management of small, medium and large organizations across industry sectors in India, when they need assurance over their systems, controls, policies, procedures, governance and risks.
Monish G Chatrath (‘MGC’), Managing Partner, MGC & KNAV Global Risk Advisory LLP
One of the best known names in risk advisory and corporate governance in India, with 29 years of experience in international finance – both in the profession (Arthur Andersen, KPMG, Grant Thornton & Mazars) and the industry (CFO of Barista Coffee [nominated for the CFO of the year], EXL and Schlumberger),MGChas been rated as one of India’s 50 most promising CEOs in 2017 and was recognized to be amongst India’s 30 most trusted CEOs in 2018. A professional who has built sustainable brands in his distinguished career and one who chose the daunting path of entrepreneurship, in partnership with KNAV in 2015 to create MGC & KNAV.
Business Connect: How have you adapted yourself to the latest needs of the market?
MGC: We are currently witnessing a relatively unique environment – one which is completely unprecedented, and one where we need to retain our focus on innovation and reinvention to stay ahead of the curve. Legislative, economic and political developments across the globe are increasingly driving the requirements for specialized risk advisory services and some key jurisdictions in this context are the US, Europe Asia, Japan, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and of course India as well. We are a part of an international organization called the KNAV Group and a member of the US$ 2.6 billion Atlanta headquartered Allinial Global that currently has offices in 393 locations worldwide. These strategic partnerships and associations provide us with the means to exchange our ideas, track developments and share best practices on a global platform. And we are connected – on a daily basis, on an ongoing basis andon a need basis, on various portals, on various committees of KNAV and Allinial Global, as we exchange views and track developments. We subscribe to various data bases and focus on market intelligence, not just in terms of economic developments but also changes and legislations that are taking place, to ascertain their potential impact on the business of our clients. This enables us to carefully adapt our services in response to the market (for example our bespoke model for enterprise wide risk management), making modifications to our existing offerings (for example our forensic services) and developing new services (for example our GDPR and data protection services).
Business Connect: What gives you an edge over your peers?
MGC: Our ability to embrace technology with a focus on speed, agility, simplicity, innovation and value, while empowering our people and focusing on the H2H (human to human)factor have differentiated us from our competition. Layers within an organization hide weaknesses and mask mediocrity and consequently, I have laid emphasis on an open-door policy in spirit and form, by making myself accessible and staying regularly connected to develop a relatively unique relationship with each member of my team. Externally, we have prioritized relationship-building over monetary gains and this has enabled our clients to view us as an extension of their office instead of an external consultant. These are the threads that knit the fabric of what constitutes the DNA of MGC & KNAV and sets us apart from other firms in our space.
Business Connect: Did you face any obstacle during the initial days? How did you sail through them?
MGC: A key element of our journey has been our consistency, persistence and personalization. MGC & KNAV was not an overnight success and we have faced many struggles, challenges and setbacks. It has been the belief in our ability to realize our vision, our ability to continuously raise the bar in terms of the quality of our work and our passion to define what may appear to many to be the impossible and set out to achieve the same while scaling new heights at various stages of this journey,that has seen us through. Our vision is clearly articulated and we have successfully ignited an unparalleled passion and sense of belonging within our people. Through transparency and ongoing engagement with our people, we have made sure that they always knew where we were going, what we were doing and the fact that as an organization, we were simply unwilling to stay stagnant. While honesty and teamwork may appear to be glamorous phases, I believe that these have been the most powerful propellers for MGC & KNAV’s growth.
Business Connect: What was your learning during challenging times?
MGC: Challenges are an inevitable part of life. Our biggest learning has been never to give up. Even when the odds were stacked against us, we stayed focused on the realization of our vision. We may have not won all the pitches that we submitted, we may not have signed up with all the clients that we wanted and we may not have hired all the people we wanted at the time we wanted them. But the fact of the matter is that we have never stopped short of putting in our best efforts because we believed that we could do what we had set out to. As such, we never viewed any set back as a failure and that was our learning. We believed that success would come our way as long as we keep within sight the bigger picture and stay focused on our vision. I have often stated that every dream can be realized and so can ours. As I reflect further, I feel that the best way to learn has been to fall down, only to get up and fight again.
Business Connect: What kind of clients are you serving?
MGC: MGC & KNAV’s clients are a varied mix of small, medium, and large Indian and multinational organizations across domains and sectors and also include several new age and established companies.
Business Connect: How do you ensure the unbreakable faith of clients in your company?
MGC: Through one simple factor that is trust, which emanates from, humility, respect, empathy and accountability – in thought, word and action. While being good at what we do is important, without gaining the trust of our clients, this aspect by itself will not ensure sustainable success.We commit only to what we can deliver and are honest about our capabilities, while identifying solutions for our clients instead of imposing our service offerings on them. We do not cut corners, we do not differentiate on quality or the level of attention on the basis of the size of our client organization or the fee. We believe in providing each client with premium service, regardless of whether they are a Fortune 500 company or a small business. We respond to all mails and communication promptly. I personally feel that it is important to acknowledge the receipt of an email as quickly as possible, even when one may not immediately have the solution being sought. This gives our clients comfort that their mail has been acknowledged and most importantly the fact that we are on it.
Business Connect: How much do you rely upon Research and Development?
MGC: We cannot do without R&D since its impact is fundamental to growth. Research enables us in adding quality to our delivery through an understanding of business dynamics relating to the industries in which our clients operate. Moreover, we are also using tools in the nature of artificial intelligence, robotic simulation, and data analysis. The ability to be able to find the right tool, to be able to customize it to a pertinent requirement and to be able to take it to our client in a cost-effective manner requires an extensive amount of research & development.
Business Connect: How difficult is it to remain relevant in this competitive world?
MGC: It is not easy for anyone to make a mark in today’s competitive world. Ironically, competition is vital. In-fact this is imperative. With increasing competition, the bar in terms of delivery of solutions and client service is continuously being raised. In the competitive environment in which we operate, it takes the fittest to succeed and when I say the fittest, I do not mean the biggest, rather I mean the ones who have the desire, the ambition, the passion, and the resolve to be able to continuously keep on taking to the market that others are not able to take in the same way. This aspect creates a differentiation. Often I have seen severe undercutting in terms of pricing to retain and win clients. It is my personal belief that no one wins a price war—not even the client. For this reason, to attain and retain our relevance, we have focused more on building relationships with complete transparency in our pricing with our clients, in a manner in which there are no hidden surprises and they are in full control of the commercials for engagements with us.
Business Connect: Tell us something about your team. How do you ensure their efficiency and positivity towards work in challenging times?
MGC: We are in the people’s business and our challenges are relativelyunique. When I hear discussions and debates around B2B and B2C, I strike a relevance to the concept of H2H, which is most pertinent to our business. Anyone who joins our organization, having followed a rigorous process in terms of selection, is not treated as an employee or a commodity, rather as an asset. I seek to optimize the efficiencies of each member of our team by identifying the real potential in every person who is a part of MGC & KNAV and working with the said person to realize this potential. Often I have had discussions with various people who have joined us, about what is it that they feel they should be doing. Whenever there have been variations between my assessment of an individual’s potential what the person believes that he or she can do, I have worked with the person and let the person believe, that yes, he or she can get there. Not because that pedestal is higher than what the person may have identified for himself or herself, but because that is where the said person rightly belongs.
Business Connect: What kind of activities do you conduct to keep your employees energized?
MGC: Our success is directly proportional to the hard work and effort of each member of our team. We realize that individuals must work in a manner and in an environment in which they are energized and motivated to give their best. Consequently, we lose no opportunity to recognize efforts, celebrate occasions (including personal birthdays and client recognition) and ensure that efforts of our team members do not get unnoticed. Our people know, understand and appreciate that with collaboration and by working together, they can accomplish a lot more than if they were to operate in silos. We organize regular team get-togethers with a different theme on each occasion, engage our people on a common group chat, have monthly town halls, demonstrate our recognition of their efforts on various platforms on social media and have regular off-sites where each team member is encouraged to interact in a carefree and informal manner. While each of the platforms used by us to energize our people is different to the other, the common thread that binds these efforts is enhanced interaction by getting them to open up and discuss their thoughts and perspectives freely. We identify individuals with a positive attitude and assign specific tasks to promote team work to them and show everyone the bigger picture with their roles and contributions so that negativity does not creep in by sweating on the smaller stuff.
Business Connect: Who do you look up to in the world of business?
MGC: Jack Welch. I have the highest regard for his ability to think beyond the norm and usher in new thought-provoking, positive and impactful actions. He had made a speech in 1981 in New York City which dealt with “Growing fast in a slow-growth economy”, which imprinted upon me, the fact that one could eradicate inefficiencies by dismantling bureaucracies. His emphasis on succession planning and making people the core competency of GE along with being an early adopter of the Six Sigma -approach made Jack Welch one of the pioneers in shaping a culture which many organizations chose to successfully adopt.
Business Connect: Are you planning to establish the company as a global brand?
MGC: Yes.We have already expanded our presence to Europe, Middle East, Singapore, UK and the US and are exploring expansion for several other countries. At the same time, we will continue to actively pursue new and requisite intelligence and use the same to expand the length and breadth of our service offerings, stay well ahead of our competition in terms of the best in class tools and methodologies and continue to upgrade and enhance our infrastructure to facilitate efficiencies in our operations, which comprise of our delivery and enabling teams.
Business Connect: What are your contributions to CSR activities?
MGC: MGC & KNAV is conscious of its responsibility toward society at large. Our corporate social responsibility revolves around being able to provide for the have-nots of society. In my capacity as a member of the prestigious Delhi Mid Town Rotary Club, I have had the privilege of serving as the co-chairperson of their committee overseeing CSR initiatives.
We recently celebrated the third anniversary of MGC & KNAV with young students at an orphanage located at the heart of central Delhi and distributed stationery and books to each child.
Business Connect: Please let us know about the achievements of the company.
MGC: We have not only been able to attract and retain the best talent, across levels in the area of risk advisory services, but also clients, who are some of the best-known organizations in their respective domain. We have been recognized as amongst the ’10 most promising risk advisory services firms’ in 2017, ‘the Company of the Month’ in January of 2018 and the ‘Company of the Year’ in December 2018.
Business Connect: What are your interests apart from work?
MGC: I like to read. I think it’s important to be able to take some time off and get perspectives of what is in the mind of successful writers. I like to play chess, I think it’s a great destressor and it always helps you in many ways to anticipate moves and to find your way in a situation where you are continuously striving to be ahead of the curve. I love to travel and go for long walks, treks, and drives. I have a passion for cars. Finding time for these currently is very difficult and but maybe someday, I’ll be able to do more of these.
Business Connect: What are the milestones of the company?
MGC: To start from scratch in September of 2015 and demonstrate the ability to compete with the largest global risk advisory services firms while edging them out on specific risk advisory mandates in terms of our technical expertise, build a highly motivated team of over a hundred risk advisory services professionals and develop a fast-growing base of happy clients, is an accomplishment that I cherish.
Business Connect: What are your thoughts on women participation in the entrepreneurial world?
MGC: A transformation has occurred with the increase in the number of women participating in the corporate workforce and this can only serve as a benefit to the industries. Gender diversity helps in providing different perspectives which count as an advantage. In my opinion, more and more women should be encouraged and supported to prosper in the world of opportunities. After all, there is no better example for a woman than another accomplished woman.
Business Connect: What are your efforts to ensure the female workforce is at par with male counterparts?
MGC: When hiring a candidate, be it a man or a woman, there are certain qualities that we look for. In this process, gender is merely a matter of fact and not a deciding ground. At MGC & KNAV, women are at par with their counterparts and support each other throughout.
Business Connect: What are your short term and long term plans for the company?
MGC: We have a clear vision for ourselves, which is for MGC & KNAV to be the best providers of risk advisory services wherever we work. While this may appear to be a simple vision, there is clarity of thought behind the same and the fact that we have been able to achieve this positioning in India is encouraging. In the short term and long term, we need to maintain that position. What we have seen, not just in the case of organizations, but also in the case of successful people, that once you reach the top, you take a lot for granted. I do not believe in taking anything for granted. There are enough people and there are enough organizations who are working hard to be able to get us off that pedestal. Hence, the first thing is to maintain this positioning and that is going to require probably more hard work than what we’ve done to be able to get there. From a long term perspective, we need to spread our wings across the globe (as we have been doing in Singapore, The Netherlands and USA) to attain and retain a positioning similar to the one we have in India.
“I would just say, dare to dream because those who dream are the ones who succeed. So, dream and dream big. I believe that it is imperative to live each moment to its fullest, for this moment is never going to return and the theory of initial push is extremely important. For us, it is essential to respect and capitalize on the opportunities available to us in the present.”
Monish Gaurav Chatrath