Being a leader is a daunting task in the rigorously-competitive 21-st century marketplace. To distinguish themselves in the competition, leaders must have a plethora of qualities like a distinct vision, perseverance, the ability to take risks, etc. According to Saad Maniar (Senior Partner at Crowe UAE),
“One of the most crucial factors of being an effective leader is to always be self-aware and instill self-awareness in others.”
He further mentions that it is equally important for leaders to build a culture of trust and care to provide services that not only meet clients’ expectations but also exceed others. Saad is a laurelled financial leader who has been leveraging his experience to successfully drive the growth of the company.
An Illustrious Journey
Throughout his journey, Saad has always been driven and ambitious. Although he came from a small town in India, he had the opportunity to pursue his higher qualification in the UK where he did small, odd jobs. After qualifying as ACCA in 1999, he trained as an accountant at a London firm. Soon, he moved to Dubai and has been a part of the same company ever since. At Crowe UAE, Saad has shouldered various roles including Audit Senior, Manager, Director, Partner, etc. Since 2010, he has been serving as the Senior Partner and Member of the Board.
Like many successful leaders, Saad has also witnessed several challenges and achievements in his career. One of his biggest achievements was to be able to resolve a difficult dispute between partners that was ongoing for few years. Leveraging the trust both parties had in him, Saad managed to resolve the dispute quickly and amicably.
Another challenge was single-handedly delivering risk-consulting elements to an entity of the Government of Dubai which covered 12 top Government owned entities and involved their exposure in 5 different countries. Each country and each industry had its unique challenges. Additionally, this needed to be presented to the Minister in a very short duration, which was an even more difficult task. Talking about his journey, Saad elucidates, “I am grateful for my successes, the big or small events are all my achievements of learning and experience building.”
1. A Trusted Service Provider
Presently, Saad is at the helm of Crowe UAE. The company is one of the leading Top 10 firms specializing in audit, tax, advisory, and risk with over 200 professionals spread across 6 offices in the UAE. It has been a trusted service provider to various industries across its 40 years of operations in the country. Its services span several industries like automotive, real estate, media and entertainment, hospitality, healthcare, financial services, telecommunication, etc. Being one of the market leaders in financial services, Crowe UAE has presence in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) since 2006.
Thanks to the mix of expertise at its disposal, Crowe UAE provides a myriad of services ranging from External Audit, Internal Audit, Establishing regulated and non-regulated entities and funds, Outsourced services such as Compliance Officer, Finance Officer, bookkeeping services, Liquidation and Winding-up services, etc. The company does not compromise on quality and meets the clients’ expectations within time—which is a key aspect that distinguishes it from its peers. From seniors to juniors, everyone is prompt and proactive in their responses. Crowe UAE’s major focus is delivering value to its clients instead of monetary elements.
2. Growing beyond the Hurdles
Being part of the leading international financial hub in MEASA region, Crowe UAE confronted a unique set of challenges. 15 years ago, the market was not acquainted with compliance matters and other regulations—due to which the company had to keep abreast with these regulations as well as keep its clients informed and aligned. To date, the ecosystem is evolving rapidly which required Crowe UAE to adapt to these changes and developments at a breakneck speed.
Crowe UAE’s strategy has always been to attain steady growth. Saad mentions that the point that triggered the company’s growth was its decision of deep specialization in all areas of financial services. This included audit, compliance, risk management, etc. which distinguished the brand.
“The heartbeat of our DIFC office is the quality-driven services we provide which has paved this growth chart,” he adds.
3. A Zealous Leader at the Helm
Saad heads Crowe UAE’s practice at DIFC. He believes in deep specialization that allowed the company’s financial service practices to grow exponentially and be one of the leaders in the DIFC. At Crowe UAE, he manages the overall practice in DIFC including the practicing Audit and insolvency (liquidation). Innovation, technology, and risk management have always been at the top of Saad’s agenda.
Additionally, Saad oversees the governance, risk and compliance practice for the company’s network in the Middle East and Africa region. His thought leadership, especially on matters relating business and strategy is often contributed to and reflected in the print media. Moreover, since the region is dominated by copy-and-paste ways of doing business, Saad is passionate about ethics, quality, and integration—given the complex integration it presents.
Being the Chairman of the Members Advisory Committee at ACCA, Saad also shoulders the responsibility to take care of the interest of the members. He truly enjoys helping and supporting members, affiliates, and students in need. He also acknowledges his team by saying, “I am blessed with a great team and my team continues to show how a fresh approach coupled with game-changing can thrive within the accountancy and audit space.”
4. Developing Timeless Bonds
Saad gives a lot of emphasis on creating and maintaining healthy relationships with employees as well as clients. “I have a relationship with each member of my team and know them up close,” he says. For employees, he is more like a colleague than an employer. He frequently has bonding sessions with them. Even during the pandemic, he arranged virtual coffee events. Saad’s relationship with the employees can be judged by the great camaraderie the team shares, which is reflected in its delivery of services to clients as well.
The experiences shared by the clients and colleagues are testaments to Saad’s relationship with them. Bernard Tapera, one of Crowe UAE’s ex-employee and a partner at competing firm says, “Saad is without doubt one of the most professional chartered accountants that I have had the privilege of working with. It’s refreshing to have upright professionals like him in these times of uncertainty and increasing scrutiny of the audit profession.”
5. “Onwards and Upwards”
Saad mentions that Crowe UAE has always worked onwards and upwards. The company takes pride in its 40 years of lineage—as its journey from humble beginnings by Dr. Khalid in terms of office space, people strength, gamut of services, and all this has been perilous but highly rewarding. Today, it is ranked no.7 in audit and advisory practice. Crowe UAE has laid a strong foundation. With the rapidly evolving business environment, it aims to keep innovating new ideas. The company is also developing its tools using best-in-class technology to efficiently deliver its services and ensure that it continues to add value to its clients.
Furthermore, Crowe UAE is always enhancing its existing services while parallelly coming up with new services to broaden its problem-solving agendas. The company has started its leadership program ‘Next in Line’ which is all about investing in people. It is an exciting time in the regulatory landscape and Crowe UAE stays informed as well as keeps its clients abreast of all developments. At a group level, the company has always offered end-to-end business solutions, covering a wide range of services.
According to Saad, the reason behind the company’s success is the combined effort of hardworking professionals working towards the same goal while keeping similar morals, values, and ethics.
“At Crowe, we believe in deep-rooted values of Care, Share, Invest, and Grow which I personally embed in my daily life and I hope this has contributed to the company’s stance,” he continues.
6. Exclusives with Saad
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is paramount for leaders to stay motivated and productive. Being in business, leaders are more often than not under pressure. To cope with the pressure, Saad enjoys light-hearted movies that help him relieve stress as well as bring calmness and composure in pressure situations. Talking about the people he admired the most, Saad accredits Shaikh Muhammad for his visionary leadership and Dr. Khalid for identifying and grooming him for the leaderhsip position. .
Adding to this, Saad finds the business story of Mumbai Tiffin wala—one of the most sophisticated systems developed by ordinary people without much education—to be the most inspiring. When asked to choose between vigilance and strategy, Saad replied that strategy is important only if it is implemented in its spirit and adopted by all the people. His strategy revolves around people and they are the most important assets of the Crowe UAE. Sharing a vote of gratitude, Saad concludes, “I never lose sight of the purpose of life and be thankful to almighty for whatever I have. My mentors provide me with constant guidance and I am thankful for their support.”
7. Saad’s Favorite Quote:
“I am not saying it is going to be easy, however, it is worth it.”