Syed M. Shabbar Zaidi on 125th Anniversary Celebrations Dinner
In Karachi on September 7, 2018
Ladies and Gentlemen
As the Senior Partner of the firm, I thank each one of you for honoring us by joining for this 125th Anniversary of A.F. Ferguson & Co., Chartered Accountants.
A. F. Ferguson & Co., carries a unique status in the accounting profession in Pakistan. This institution has been able to maintain its position in all spheres of accounting profession in the country for over 70 years. This has only been possible because of the support and guidance which we have received from each one of you. Nevertheless, this does not make us complacent. There is a long journey ahead.
The size of the profession, in Pakistan, has to increase substantially in future to cope with international and domestic requirements. A.F. Ferguson & Co., is and will remain the benchmark for the same.
All major business houses, regulators, international agencies, judiciary, and all the governments in power trust the firm for its independence, transparency, expertise and cutting edge of knowledge in the respective fields. The trust is growing over time. We are extremely proud for that prestige. However it adds to the responsibilities and the need for continued endeavor to meet the growing expectations.
We serve all the major MNCs in the country. However our sphere of activities has evolved with changed business and economic environment of the country.
We have been serving business houses like Packages Group since 1950s and are entering into relationships with the new business groups. The common expectation of all our client relationships is trust, solution oriented service and comprehensive and composite knowledge. We combine domestic knowledge with international expertise available through our network PricewaterhouseCoopers.
An audit report of Ferguson is a symbol of trust for the shareholders and the regulators.
A. F. Ferguson & Co., is a recognized name in all the major deals and transactions that are undertaken in Pakistan.
The firm runs the biggest tax practice in the country; notwithstanding all other aspects it is symbol for the society that there can be a firm that can run a large tax practice without having any iota of doubt on integrity and manner of operation. This can only be fully appreciated when we see the culture around us. On a personal level I joined A.F. Ferguson & Co., as an articled clerk to Late Mr. Shahab Azfar on November 24, 1979 in Lahore Office. My first four years were in Assurance side and remaining period in tax and integrated advisory. In Lahore office, I had the opportunity to work under M. Khalil Mian, Khalid Sb. and Sohail Sb. during my articles period. I have also September 7, 2018, Karachihad the opportunity to work either in or very closely with all the three offices of the firm. This has taught me that there is special utility for diversified geographical and cross line of service experience. If I am asked to summarize my experience, the biggest need for businesses around us is that businessmen want composite solution for their accounting, tax, corporate law and foreign exchange problems from one window. Profession and the professionals will need to structure for this need and in doing this the most difficult task, like any other service industry, is induction and retention of quality people.
Institutions cannot be separated from people. This is true for the firm. It is therefore important that individuals establish right systems and processes. Internally within the firm we were able to institutionalize all important decision making processes through comprehensive amendments in our partnership deed in 2011. This has strengthened us as large partnerships are still evolving in Pakistan. We have laid down a role model. I believe that this will go a long way in making the firm even stronger.
We, the Partners in Ferguson are not the ‘owners’ of a firm. We are the ‘trustees’ in an institution where I joined as Articled Clerk and will leave as Territory Senior Partner. Every trainee can be a future Partner of the firm.
A.F. Ferguson & Co., has a special role in steering consolidation of Pakistan’s big business groups. For example, we initiated the idea of formation of group company structure in corporate and tax laws. Mr. Hussain Dawood, Mr. Razzaque Dawood, Mr. Muhammad Ali Tabba, Mr. Syed Salim Raza, Mr. Mian Muhammad Mansha, Mr. Asad Umar and Mr. Ali S. Habib were instrumental in guiding and supporting us in this project. This initiative which requires further consolidation is a pre-requisite both for businesses and economy of Pakistan.
I have special relationship with Syed Babar Ali today’s chief guest. Throughout my professional career Babar Sahib mentored me. His acumen has provided guidance to me for some sensitive and relevant matters. I still remember being a part of team of juniors, in Lahore, which did checking of typos whilst Milkpak Limited (Now Nestle Pakistan) and LUMS were being formed in 1980’s and 1990’s.
Babar Ali Sahib honored me in visiting our office in Karachi in 2014 to discuss one of major business transaction of his group companies. It was a personal honor for me when he mentioned that that was the second time when he came to A F Ferguson office. First time he came to meet Mr. Bhaimia for another similar transaction in 1960’s. I will always remember that honor.
In the end, I want to close with the statement that A F Ferguson & Co., is there to provide one window business solution to business houses and independent and transparent advice to regulators and policy makers.
I once again thank all my present and former Partners and all of you for attending this anniversary function.
Syed Muhammad Shabbar Zaidi
Territory Senior Partner
Tel: +92 21 32413849
S. Haider Abbas
Partner Incharge Islamabad Office
Imran F. Mian
Partner Incharge Lahore Office