After Gaining Experience in Big 4s This Second Generation Chartered Accountant is Expanding in Dubai
- Hi! I am Ayush Sharma a qualified Chartered Accountant and Company Secretary from India. My Dad is also a Chartered Accountant and has his own CA Firm in Delhi (India).
- After qualifying as a CA, I decided to start my career in a Big 4 firm (and not in my Dad's Auditing and Accounting firm). However, after 7 years of working, I decided it was time to move and help my Dad expand his 30-year old Auditing and Accounting firm.
- In mid-2018, I decided to start AYS Advisors in Dubai, taking the business beyond the border.
- Here is my story.
My Decision to Become a Chartered Accountant
Like most kids, I was unsure of what I wanted to pursue. For the longest time, I wanted to become an engineer.
One fine day, my dad (who is also a CA) happened to share with me the scope and vastness of the field of Finance. At that very moment, something clicked, and I decided to pursue Commerce and later on, study to become a Chartered Accountant.
Pursuing CA was an informed decision after understanding and evaluating every other available option in Finance.
My CA journey was smooth until I failed in my CA Final exams. Needless to say, I was completely devasted...because I felt I had let down my parents! (Sometimes when you have a family member who is a CA there can be unwanted 'self-created' pressure to clear in the first attempt)
Fortunately, my parents were very supportive and encouraging...most importantly they did not make me feel burdened to prove myself to society or to them!
With all this support and motivation, I continued in this spirit and passed all my exams with an All India Rank. Qualifying as a Chartered Accountant from the prestigious ICAI was a dream come true!
This failure proved to be a big learning. It taught me - To never lose focus from the target which we set for ourselves even if there are temporary setbacks.
Also a big Thank You to my very good friend who kept encouraging in challenging times!
You never know what can happen if you decide NOT to give up!
Starting my Career in a Big 4 Firm
After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, I started my career with Ernst & Young in Audit and Assurance.
I worked in this profile for almost 2.5 years after which I moved to financial due diligence practice under Transaction Advisory Services. Moving from audit to due diligence was another struggle – saving it for another day!
After a few years in Transaction Advisory, I got an opportunity to work at Deloitte as a Manager in the same profile.
Why did I not join my dad's CA firm? To get a good exposure, get out of my comfort zone (since my internship was under my dad). Also, a brand name is a big advantage and most importantly dealing with big and diversified clients helped me to understand the client’s perspective in terms of running/ managing businesses.
Quitting my Job to Start a Consulting Firm in Dubai
While working with Deloitte back in 2017, I happened to visit Dubai. Around the same time, it was announced that VAT would be introduced in the GCC region in 2018.
I saw this as a big opportunity (like many others).
I was doing very well in the corporate world and placed well in my comfort zone when I realized it was time to join and expand my father’s 30-year-old practicing CA firm beyond borders.
So during the second half of 2017; I visited Dubai several times to understand the business environment and finally decided to open a firm, AYS Advisors, in Dubai in compliance with the local company formation laws.
After several years of working in big corporates, I decided to join my family firm and expand the business further. In 2018, I quit Deloitte...to begin a new journey.
Going Beyond Borders: Starting a Business In the UAE
In April 2018, we started our services in Dubai.
Since VAT was new in the country, we got a lot of clients...as we started at the right time!
But it hasn't been a very easy journey. We faced several challenges when we first started and we still do. One of the biggest challenges is building credibility as a trusted business partner.
Also, since the business of CAs involves finances, trust becomes a very important factor. And building trust takes a good amount of time. This was a big challenge to reckon with when acquiring new clients.
Now we get most of our work through referrals.
“Did working in Big 4s help in shaping my career?”
My experience at a Big 4 took me places; quite literally.
I travelled across the whole of India – ranging from villages with factories to all the six metros, from company guest houses to glitzy 5-star hotels.
It showed me the world of diverse clients - from waste management companies to e-commerce giants, from healthcare to animal feed manufacturers, from real estate to cinema houses and the opportunity to meet a fantastic bunch of co-workers, clients, seniors, and juniors.
During this journey; I met many business owners, entrepreneurs, and business leaders which helped me gain a better understanding of businesses and operations.
To be completely honest, working for a Big 4 is 'not a piece of cake'. There have been days when I have started work at 9 am and reached back home the next morning at 5 am, only to go back to work again at 10 am the same day! But there have also been days which were quite the opposite.
I slogged my way off but I also gained so much of knowledge and work prowess which I think wouldn’t have been possible in any other environment. Fast, smart, diligent and ethical work is something I learned working at Big 4s.
My colleagues and seniors at work were crucial in helping me hone my professional skills. In hindsight, if you get an opportunity to do good work; make the most of it, don’t hesitate to put in extra hours or extra efforts - because, in the end, it will all be worth it.
What you gain out of it will be more than what you give. Also, people around you are very important for your growth, those who motivate you and help you develop are very important.
"Corporate background help in my entrepreneurial journey?"
Of course, it has!
My background in Mergers & Acquisitions allows us to provide services revolving around this field, including due diligence, business evaluation, in addition to the traditional services which we have been providing for three decades.
I also have a very good network of professionals and business owners because of my association with Big 4s.
"Setting up a business in Dubai – A Walkthrough."
Luckily, Dubai is a very business-friendly city and it’s welcoming to new business owners, but you should be willing to do your research in terms of your market, size of your business, demand and supply, etc.
Starting any business in any place requires a lot of resources – monetary and human, which differs from business to business.
As mentioned above, I carried out my research on Dubai while I was still in India and then visited several times to check the ground reality and explore various options, as in, whether we should open a firm in the Mainland vs. the Freezone and many more.
Total investment depends on the area and starts from as low as AED 10,000 per annum.
License costs for companies vary from activity to activity, here you have to buy a license for each business activity. Basic license for accounting activity, for example, costs approx. AED 20,000-50,000 at the time of inception and renewal fees of AED 15,000 to 20,000 per year (Note: This is my opinion, pls do your own research as the above details can vary)
Apart from the license, there are costs of acquiring office space, staff, and other costs. So in a city like Dubai, where you get options to spend from AED 100 to AED 10,000, keeping your costs within your control is the mantra.
There are various freelance licenses also available which can range from as low as AED 2000 - 10000. It all depends on your needs.
The profitability of your business is dependent on how you manage your finances. For instance, If you have incoming of AED 10,000 per annum and have already rented an office worth AED 100,000 per annum, it would take you 5 years to break even, even if you doubled your revenue and rent was the only cost.
Breaking even, again, is a function of your recurring costs and revenue. Since you can’t control revenue, controlling costs is the best thing you can do.
The most important thing is to just go out and speak to people and the most effective way to tell about and invest in yourself is to stay updated in terms of legal regulations and technology.
Wrapping It Up...
Throughout my career, I’ve maintained an attitude of a learner and that has helped me further my career.
To maintain balance in such a competitive industry, we provide cost-effective solutions to our clients’ problems and needs. We treat our clients’ work as our work and do it with the same devotion with which we shall do our work.
Every day is different in this field of work. Some days, we are at the client’s place all day long, some days we are just meeting prospective clients and on some days we keep on attending industry and CA events and seminars to stay connected to our community.
My advice to every reader – whether you are a CA or finance expert or not - Just be loyal to yourself, be persistent and stay positive - that is the ultimate Mantra.
Now It's Your Turn...
I'm looking at hearing from you all! Comment below with any questions you have.
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