Forbes Romania: Interview with Dino Ebneter, Country Managing Partner

You may find below the interview of our Country Managing Partner, Dino Ebneter, in Forbes Romania about how Mazars handles the current pandemic, but also Dino’s thoughts, tips and ideas. This material is part of - Forbes Forward - a new project driven by beautiful values and the vision of a better society.

Q. What business decisions did your company take since the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic?

A part of our job is to be mobile and in contact with clients and business partners domestically and internationally.

We decided within the Mazars Group to restrict and later ban all traveling, opt for video conferences, cancel gatherings of people, well before the local government was still finding the right measures.

We have put in place all the necessary health measures to protect our teams and secondly, to roll-out our business continuity plans (BCPs) to enable us to sustain our activities and serve our clients.

Mazars with its core services Accounting, Audit, and Financial Advisory is currently in the so-called “busy season”. Our teams continue to work almost normally, with a few exceptions when the physical presence at the clients' premises was required.

Our activity is one that needs to function at all times, the output is eventually even more important in the time of crisis. Our task is therefore simple and straight forward: assuring our crew is healthy, has all means to communicate, and has secured access to data, also reachable for our customers.

Once everyone was in the home office mode, these were some parameters we needed to control constantly: IT infrastructure, teams’ operational meetings, their workload, but also their state of mind.

Q. What are the measures your company has taken to support its employees since the outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak?

We have decided to work from home well before the government took decisions to a lockdown or recommend the remote work, when possible. The psychological safety, being free of stress seemed for us equally important to physical health. Although both are not visible, we understood later this was very appreciated. As we continued our work, remaining close and compassionate was easy, as this is already a normality in our office.

Right from the beginning, we communicated transparently, in an understandable manner and always based on facts. We wrote the official messages on behalf of the leadership team, but we used as much as possible the occasion to explain ourselves in smaller groups or face to face.

After 6 weeks, we launched a leadership check-in survey that allowed us to have a helicopter perspective on the entire team’s needs and feelings: what issues are they facing regarding working from home, what questions and worries we need to address, and also their view and expected impact on our business. We trusted their ability to manage this difficulty, but we offered our help at all times. In other words, we are keeping a constant dialogue between the leadership team and the colleagues without parenting them.

Q. What would be the governmental measures that should be taken in the following period to mitigate the coronavirus’ negative effects within your sector?  

As an interface between business and authorities, our work can be further simplified when all communication with state institutions is digital. The project E-Government should be pushed further allowing to free up resources in the business and state budget.

The dialogue between Government and social partners always needs to continue, since there is a lot of will and positive energy within the Romanian business community, whether domestic or foreign-owned.

Mastering a crisis of that magnitude is teamwork based. Nobody is expecting from a government to know all answers, but they should inform the general public transparently and based on scientific information, so everyone will be able to do its share to a quick recovery.

Q. What are the possible scenarios you foresee for your business if the epidemic continues and/ or escalates? And for the entire Romanian economy?

A good part of our business is helping companies to fulfill legal requirements, provide assurance to the shareholders and stakeholders with regards to a company’s financial situation. Another part is helping the decision-makers to navigate through the business turbulences.

Mazars is an entrepreneurial driven and very resilient organization and we will always adapt to the market conditions.

The Romanian economy should focus on using its great skills in creativity and letting people innovate the processes to help companies function well at a lower cost. Technology is one of the key drivers and the country is placed extraordinary well. Romania should pool its R&D resources and work on solutions that would allow a faster recovery for the economy.

Q. How do you think you could help the community - social and/or business?

Firstly, we are doing everything to remain a financially healthy company, continuing to deliver our services day by day. People are the heart of our company and we take good care of them, so they can do the same for their families. One of our contributions is, therefore, to keep this microcosmos running.

Secondly, by being a fit organization, we are remaining an important reliable auditor, accountant, tax consultant, and financial advisor. In times of uncertainty, a trusted advisor is key.

Mazars created an internal task force to assure that vital business questions from the customers are promptly answered and to instantly adapt their need of support.

Our teams are offering constant updates especially on the various tax and legal changes, explaining their impact in free of charge webinars, but also offering support in the dialogue with our governmental decision-makers. In addition, we are offering hands-on support in human resources and communication issues, especially to smaller companies.

Specialists are guiding clients through their decision-making processes and letting them benefit from our experience in crises. For example, we are offering them data analytics for a faster and better understanding of their numbers, through IT health checks assuring high-level Cyber Security and supporting technology, or simply with the secondment of our specialists when needed.