Jean-Max Appanah FCCA, managing partner of his own practice and co-founder of Smart Moves for Entrepreneurs
Managing people from an early age through my local church activities made me realise that one day I would run my own business. Unlike my siblings, who went to university after A-levels, I went for first-hand experience, working with the financial controller of a company. I soon realised how the role of the accountant is vital to a business, and how with a humane touch accountants can transform the lives of so many people.
I started as an accountant trainee in a two-partner firm in Surrey, England. I moved on to a number of medium firms in London and the US, and then to EY at its London HQ, all thanks to ACCA. ACCA has shown me the way, in meeting the right mentors, tutors, partners and colleagues around the world.
Most professionals chase big companies – only a few really service the needs of small businesses in Mauritius
In 2009, I decided to head back home to Mauritius. After a spell in commerce and industry, I set up my own accountancy and consultancy practice, JM Appanah & Co, in 2012. Most professionals chase big companies – only a few really service the needs of the small businesses on the island – in Mauritius there are 125,000 small businesses employing 275,000 staff and accounting for 35% of the country’s GDP. I have had to reinvent myself as an accountant with an entrepreneurial flair. I see myself as a partner to my clients, not as a mere service provider.
Technology has enabled the sole practitioner to perform better. With cloud technology, I am able to share data and hold regular meetings with my team in Mauritius while I am abroad.
In 2015, in association with my PR partner, we launched the Smart Moves for Entrepreneurs Network. Our aim is to be the voice of small business owners. Doubling and opening my portfolio of clients by teaming up with like-minded professionals will increase clients’ turnover. I enjoy finding the right solution to local entrepreneurs’ businesses. As the co-founder of Smart Moves for Entrepreneurs, I see the value of networking, creating synergies and links among entrepreneurs.
I will have had 20 years in the profession in June. ACCA’s CPD online courses have transformed the life of sole practitioners. I attend workshops and conferences organised by the Mauritius Institute of Professional Accountants (MIPA) and the local ACCA branch. I also seek technical advice from ACCA in the UK and through the local office.
I enjoy watching Chelsea Football Club, especially in what is looking like a Premier League-winning season this year. My apartment is walking distance from the beach, and swimming in the blue crystal waters each weekend is the best workout ever.
Snapshot: forensic accounting
The strong global market for forensic accounting services shows no signs of contracting. Furthermore, with cyber fraud and the increasing appetite for investigating financial irregularities and mismanagement in global organisations, demand is likely to grow substantially.
The work of forensic accountants is varied. Typical investigations include: fraud, either by employees or external parties; commercial, shareholder or family disputes; looking for diverted funds and assessing maintainable income; tax disputes; criminal matters and insurance loss claims.
Typically forensic accountants are qualified accountants who move into the specialism. Whilst there is no formal requirement for further qualifications, most will join a relevant professional body such as the Academy of Experts or the Expert Witness Institute.
Key skills include an enquiring mind and the ability to think outside the box. Forensic accountants need to be able to put their views across under cross-examination and within mediation or other negotiations. They also need to be flexible and able to deal with the unexpected.
If they work alone or in a smaller firm they will need a credible reputation to be able to win work from instructing lawyers and clients.
Fiona Hotston Moore, head of forensic accounting at Ensors Chartered Accountants