Jorge Santibáñez
Managing Partner
Mazars
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Insight

Intangible Services Offer Unique Innovation Opportunity

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 16:56

Innovating is never easy, particularly in a somewhat commoditized industry focused on intangibles. Jorge Santibáñez, Managing Partner of Mazars Mexico, has found a way around this hurdle. “Many firms define their service offering as unique but they do not understand that their portfolio is what they have in common with every other competitor,” he says. “At Mazars, we highlight the uniqueness of our processes and the relevance of our innovation.”
Mazars, a French auditing, consulting and accounting firm that is present in 89 countries, has been in Mexico for over nine years. Despite a high level of competition, Santibáñez says the firm has expanded to nine offices across the country by providing innovative services for its clients, which are companies of all sizes, nationalities and from both the public and private sectors. “We strive for innovation in everything we do,” says Santibáñez. “We have an innovation department but we also look for ways to invite people from across the organization to participate in our innovation processes.” Including all levels of the organization in this process is a pillar of the firm’s strategy. “We believe in shared learning. This means that progress in our firm is guided by a collective thinking process and that we all have much to give and learn.” Mazars encourages all employees to participate in internal campaigns to create fresh service solutions. 
Achieving innovation when it comes to services is not an easy feat, however, which is why Santibáñez says the company focuses on technology. Mazars developed a project called Atlas, which transformed its auditing platform by allowing teams in different parts of the world to access a project’s documentation and work simultaneously. The platform also allows a client’s team to monitor Mazars’ work progress through access to a shared dashboard. “In the past, we would conduct random tests to analyze data when auditing a company’s financial information. However, given the high level of operations companies engage in, these samples are quickly outdated, making it very difficult for us to reach definitive conclusions,” says Santibáñez. “Technology allows us to use larger data sets instead of just small samples. This gives us the ability to analyze almost all the available information related to a certain operation.” 
Besides technology, Mazars considers social responsibility a key component when innovating processes within the company’s operations and those of its clients. Among other processes, it designed the Global Human Rights Auditing Standards for companies, a global and widely accepted assurance standard to assess companies’ performance with regard to human rights risk management. This process was based on the valuable experience gained by Mazars in developing its own award-winning human rights audit process.
Although Mazars has wide international presence, the firm’s operations in Mexico are key to its global strategy. “The country is the second-most important economy in Latin America and second in terms of  foreign investment in the region,” Santibáñez says. “Countries like Chile and Colombia have developed investment attraction strategies but Mexico remains an important developing market where companies can capitalize on the highly talented, low-cost workforce.” 
Mazars itself finds Mexico attractive for further investment from a commercial perspective since, beyond its competitive advantages, the country hosts many of Mazars’ international clients that require similar services to those they demand in their home countries. The firm’s services have reached such a level of acceptance in Mexico that Santibáñez expects to end 2019 with growth levels above what was projected for 2020. “We have had very positive double-digit organic growth,” he says. “We intend to continue diversifying our offering and to open at least two more offices before 2021.” 
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