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The winning advantage

Deloitte Southeast Asia's one-member firm structure and multidisciplinary range of offerings give it a competitive edge, says CEO

'We aim to be at the forefront of providing insightful and valuable services on cutting-edge issues like artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, cloud computing and robotics.' - Philip Yuen, CEO of Deloitte Southeast Asia and Deloitte Singapore.

PHILIP Yuen joined Deloitte way back in 1985, when the firm was a general practice in the midst of transforming into an audit and advisory giant. Today, the profession has changed dramatically - and Deloitte with it, says Mr Yuen, chief executive officer of Deloitte Southeast Asia and Deloitte Singapore.

Deloitte is now the largest professional services network in the world with more than 245,000 professionals and revenues amounting to US$36.8 billion in 2016. The firm has moved beyond just providing traditional accounting, audit and tax services to focusing on a growing pie in advisory and consulting.

"The key is to help our clients to make choices for the long term to drive sustainable growth for the future," says Mr Yuen. "Our multi-disciplinary model enables us to provide more integrated and value-added services to clients in the changing economic climate."

Meanwhile, Deloitte continues to enhance its audit services: developing innovative new audit techniques while investing in technology to automate processes for greater efficiency and effectiveness.

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"We want to further enhance audit quality and free up staff to focus on providing higher value services and advice," Mr Yuen says.

In the region, Deloitte is unique by being the only Big Four firm to operate as a one-member firm. As CEO of Deloitte Southeast Asia, Mr Yuen presides over a unique one-member firm structure comprising 25 offices across 11 countries, with 300 partners and over 7,700 professionals.

Introduced in 2006, this Asean structure improves efficiencies and ensures better mobility of talent, says Mr Yuen. "By working collaboratively across countries and businesses, we are able to build on our strengths and capitalise on the opportunities in our growing South-east Asia market and drive innovation in the region."

The multidisciplinary advantage

Deloitte is unique in the breadth and depth of its advisory and consulting businesses, Mr Yuen says. Its success was due in part to its decision to be the only Big Four firm to retain its consulting practice in the early 2000s. "This played a significant role in the success of the firm and the success of its clients today."

Today, Deloitte's consulting business spans technology, strategy and operations, and human capital consulting. Its risk advisory business advises on areas such as regulatory, financial, operational and cyber risk. Meanwhile, its financial advisory business deals with mergers and acquisitions as well as restructuring and forensics, including financial crime and anti-money laundering.

Both the audit and advisory space complement each other: "Our advisory arm is equipped with deep industry and sector knowledge to deliver a more holistic and complete solution to clients," he says.

"Our auditors can now carry out a more insightful audit," Mr Yuen adds. "Instead of just reviewing last year's numbers, they now have the ability to use in-depth industry knowledge to spot issues one step ahead that may have implications for the businesses of their clients."

Digital and SMEs

Other initiatives being pursued by Deloitte include a focus on the digital economy and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

To help clients stay relevant in the new economy, Deloitte has invested in its digital and cyber capabilities.

"We aim to be at the forefront of providing insightful and valuable services on cutting-edge issues like artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, cloud computing and robotics," Mr Yuen says.

The Deloitte Digital team is ready to help clients unlock the business value of emerging technologies. The latest issue of Deloitte's "Voice of Asia" thought leadership series, which began in 2017, focused on the insights the network has gleaned into digital engagement in the region and how this is impacting the Asian economy.

Where SMEs are concerned, Deloitte aims to localise global solutions meaningfully through its Deloitte Private service line, which offers tailored solutions to family-owned businesses, private enterprises and High Net Worth Individuals. Beyond the traditional professional service offerings, Deloitte Private also addresses their needs in areas like family office management, IP structuring, market entry, alternative financing and corporate & family governance.

"SMEs might not need a full suite of services. A customised strategy with local insights can meet their needs," Mr Yuen says. "We have been able to segment our offerings sensibly."

50 years in Singapore

This year marks a significant milestone for Deloitte Singapore as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. "This is a great opportunity to thank our clients and our people for supporting us through the years," Mr Yuen says.

Deloitte employees and alumni, meanwhile, can look forward to a whole host of events lined up for the year-long celebration, Mr Yuen says.

"Another important pillar is the community in which we live and work. We want to continue to actively give back and engage with the community through our partnership with various charity organisations," he adds.

Deloitte will also hold month-long activities for its Impact Day, its key annual corporate responsibility event where employees contribute and provide skills-based volunteering to give back to society.

Besides Impact Day, Deloitte Singapore runs a number of unique programmes focusing on youth and education.

The firm has an enduring relationship with NorthLight School, which admits students at risk of prematurely leaving the education system.

Deloitte is passionate about the values and spirit of sports, together with the opportunities and benefits that it can bring to youths and society as a whole. The firm also provides its staff with diverse experiences that create a friendly environment for work and growth.

"We have gotten great feedback from our people for our participation at the Youth Olympic Games, 28th SEA Games and the 8th Asean Para Games that it creates team work and unity as a firm. Newcomers and senior partners stand next to each other doing the same thing, and it forms a sense of camaraderie amongst them," Mr Yuen says.

The firm is also the largest employer of Team Singapore athletes, through the programme, Deloitte Ignite, helping the athletes balance their sporting and work careers.

Ultimately, like any professional services firm, Deloitte's strengths lie in the quality and insight of the services it can provide and the people that deliver it, Mr Yuen says. "We are high performance but still collegial at heart. This is the culture we want and the secret to our success."