Interviews

Pierag Consulting Revolutionizing Risk and Accounting Advisory Services with Global Expertise

CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Abhishek Gupta, Founder and Managing Partner, Pierag

 

  • Provide an overview of Pierag, its focus areas, and the services it provides.

Pierag Consulting LLP, a global consulting firm, was founded in February 2021 by Abhishek Gupta and Pierian Services. The company is headquartered in Gurugram and also has offices in Jaipur, Chandigarh, Bangalore, and Washington DC. Being a new-age Consulting firm, Pierag brings in the experience of 20 years through its Co-founding partner, Pierian Services.

In March 2021, with a team of only five people, Pierag secured its first client for Risk Advisory and Accounting Advisory Services: a prominent US-based management consulting firm. This event marked the beginning of Pierag’s notable journey. In 2022, Pierag achieved a significant milestone by collaborating with Baker Tilly US, one of the top 10 global public accounting firms. This partnership, which started as a simple collaboration, developed into a unique business proposition and led to a joint venture in July 2022.

The firm provides Audit and Assurance, Accounting advisory, Business Risk advisory, and Technology risk advisory services to various clients across the US and India. With 250 + people now on board, Pierag plans to further expand its presence in these international geographies, as well as increase its domestic footprint in India.

 

  • Why is Audit Readiness and Financial Regulations important, and what challenges do emerging businesses face in this regard?

Audit readiness and adherence to financial regulations are essential for emerging businesses as they navigate the intricate landscape of regulatory requirements and stakeholder expectations. As regulators like NFRA impose stricter regulations on auditors, obtaining a clean audit report will become more challenging, demanding additional time and effort from the finance and accounting teams.

Further, India ranks third globally in the ‘startup’ ecosystem. Due to the rapid growth of startup entities, scaling their finance function to the required level becomes difficult, necessitating the involvement of consulting firms. Conducting an audit readiness assessment enables organizations to proactively address deficiencies, mitigate the risk of non-compliance, ensure a smoother audit process, and reduce the risk of potential regulatory penalties upfront. It provides an opportunity to refine processes and documentation before the formal audit begins. Additionally, the audit readiness team acts as a liaison between the client and the auditor to facilitate a smooth audit, resulting in cost savings.

 

  • How do you characterize the increasing demand for Consulting and Advisory Services across sectors, and what are the driving factors?

According to industry insights, the global financial accounting advisory market is projected to reach approx. USD 127 billion by 2028, with a CAGR of 5.3% from 2023 onwards. The Indian market is also expected to grow at a similar rate of over 5%, based on industry estimates. Various regulatory reforms in India, such as updates to accounting standards, sustainability reporting, data protection laws, and additional compliance requirements from authorities like the RBI, SEBI, and MCA, are driving businesses in India to seek professionals with specialized skills, thereby increasing the demand for advisory services. Additionally, recent inspection reports by the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) on audit firms, which highlight areas for improvement in audit quality, may lead to stricter enforcement of reporting requirements, further boosting the growth of advisory services through offering audit readiness solutions.

 

  • How can organizations identify vulnerabilities and prioritize risk mitigation strategies through gap assessment?

The process of identifying vulnerabilities and prioritizing risk mitigation strategies typically follows a structured approach, encompassing several pivotal stages.

Risk Assessment : Initially, the organization undertakes a thorough assessment of its operational landscape, scrutinizing processes, systems, and infrastructure. This inclusive examination entails collating insights and data from various departments and stakeholders to achieve a comprehensive understanding of potential risk areas.

Evaluate Potential impact and likelihood of occurrence : Vulnerabilities pinpointed during the assessment phase are subjected to an analysis to gauge their potential impact and likelihood of occurrence. This analytical process factors in various considerations such as financial implications, regulatory compliance, reputation risk, and business continuity.

Prioritize : Following the assessment and analysis, the organization proceeds to prioritize risks based on their gravity and immediacy. This prioritization exercise ensures that resources are deployed efficiently and that the most pressing risks are addressed expeditiously.

Strategize : With the prioritized risks delineated, the organization tailors risk mitigation strategies to its specific needs and circumstances. These strategies may involve the introduction of new controls, strengthening existing processes, investing in technology solutions, or formulating contingency plans to neutralize potential threats.

Assign : Upon devising mitigation strategies, the organization allocates resources and assigns responsibilities for their execution. This allocation may encompass budgetary provisions, staffing decisions, and the deployment of technological resources to support the implementation of risk mitigation measures.

Continuous monitoring and evaluation : Throughout the implementation phase, the organization establishes mechanisms for continuous monitoring and evaluation. This entails the establishment of key performance indicators (KPIs), periodic risk assessments, and the utilization of technology-driven monitoring tools to monitor progress and identify nascent risks.

Ultimately, the organization fosters a culture of ongoing improvement by routinely reviewing and refining its risk management strategies. This involves assimilating insights from past experiences, adapting to evolving business dynamics, and staying vigilant against emerging threats to fortify the organization’s resilience in the face of evolving risks.

By adhering to this systematic approach, organizations can effectively identify vulnerabilities, prioritize risk mitigation efforts, and fortify their overall risk management framework to mitigate potential threats and attain their strategic objectives. Additionally, through collaborative partnerships with external consulting firms, organizations can leverage external expertise to reinforce their risk management capabilities, ensuring they achieve their strategic objectives.

 

  • What does the journey to IPO Readiness entail, and what are the key considerations and focus areas for companies planning to go public?

The road to IPO readiness is a 12-24-month journey that transforms a company into a public entity, guided by several key considerations. Firstly, it’s crucial to approach the IPO as a transformational process rather than merely a transaction. Operating as a public company at least one year before the IPO, along with maintaining strong financial performance and adapting to increased transparency, is essential. Conducting a thorough gap assessment is necessary to identify areas for improvement, such as leadership, organizational structure, and investor communication.

Additionally, a health check, ideally through an IPO readiness assessment and diagnostics, should be performed, and strategic options should be evaluated. A key step in the journey is to benchmark against competition and strive to outperform on key performance measures. A test run for preparing financial disclosures and internal investor relations reports is also recommended. Improving fast closing abilities and implementing the required IT systems to meet financial disclosure requirements are imperative. Establishing a robust governance structure will go a long way in forming the right investor perception. Lastly, seeking assistance from external consultants is important whenever there is a gap in the available skillset.

 

  • What are the global trends and developments in the Compliance Landscape, and what can India learn from them regarding regulatory evolution?

Increased Regulatory Pressure: Regulators worldwide actively addressed issues such as financial crime prevention, climate reporting, and broader environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters. India can learn from this proactive approach to enhance its own regulatory framework.

 

Digital Transformation and Risks: Rapid technological advancements necessitated skills related to digital assets, cryptocurrencies, and managing associated financial crime risks. India should prioritize digital literacy and risk management in its compliance efforts.

Environmental, social and governance: As the global community becomes increasingly aware of the impact of human activity on the environment, companies are facing mounting pressure to implement sustainable and socially responsible practices. In response, governments and regulatory bodies are introducing a wave of new environmental, social, and governance (ESG) regulations aimed at promoting sustainable business practices.

Automation and Data Sharing: Standardized and automated information sharing models emerged globally. These models facilitate interoperability between different systems and organizations, ensuring that information can be shared seamlessly and utilized effectively. India can adopt similar practices to streamline compliance processes and improve data collection and reporting.

Technology and artificial intelligence (AI): India is developing an AI regulation framework to harness AI’s potential while ensuring safety, trust, and accountability. India can learn from global trends by embracing automation, AI, and technology for compliance processes.