Jan. 25, 2022


Lateef Surakatu

Nigeria

Lateef Surakatu

Partner & Head, Business Advisory Practice Andersen

Andersen is now able to showcase its full capabilities in Nigeria, offering a diverse set of services in the business advisory space for its clients.

BIO

Lateef Surakatu holds a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA, UK). He is currently the Partner & Head of Business Advisory Practice at Andersen in Nigeria. He has an extensive and wide range of experience, spanning over 15 years, leading various projects in institutional transformation, sector and organizational reforms, finance strategy formulation, digital transformation and redesign.


How did Andersen's rebranding in early 2021 change your operations in Nigeria?

One of the major highlights of our rebranding was the ability to showcase our full capabilities. Before, we were only known for tax and tax advisory services, although we do much more than that. We offer a diverse set of services in the business advisory space and cover four core areas. The first is accounting and risk advisory services, focused on helping clients resolve their accounting issues and manage their books. We also provide risk solutions such as internal audit services, corporate governance, and forensic services. The second is our financial advisory practice. We are taking the opportunity with our rebranding to promote these services. We are also able to support clients by articulating and implementing their corporate strategy. Finally, we offer technological solutions, including automation and post-implementation of any technological initiative. Overall, we are leveraging our rebranding to win new clients.

What is your differentiating factor compared to other professional service firms in the market?

Our core values differentiate us because we pride ourselves as best-in-class. Our services are top notch. One of our other core values is transparency. We do not conduct external audit services, which gives us the privilege of advocating for our clients. We also enjoy considerable independence whenever we make decisions on issues that affect our clients.

In a competitive market like Nigeria, do you see a challenge in terms of promoting the other sides of your business?

One of the advantages we have is that we were already offering to some of our clients the services we are trying to bring to the market, which gives us a good standing when considering sectors we had not worked in before. We work with the top three financial technology firms in Nigeria in different areas of their businesses, which is both a source of pride and a testament to the range of services and quality we bring to the table. We also service a number of oil and gas clients, which demands a diversity of service provision. We also have a number of clients in the agriculture sector.

How would you assess the current business climate in Nigeria, and how do you see economic activity resuming?

We are seeing a slow recovery in the market. We closed 2020 with negative growth, and there was 0.51% growth rate in 1Q2021. With business slowly responding to the impact of COVID-19, given Nigeria's susceptibility to exchange rates fluctuation as an import-dependent country, this situation has negatively impacted demand. Businesses are deploying strategies in order to cope with market issues. The pandemic is a global issue, and Nigeria is no exception. On a separate note, the government is trying to close the infrastructure gap, which has major impacts on the cost of production in Nigeria. Still, while the growth rate is slow, recovery is in sight.

What are your goals and ambitions for the coming year and beyond?

We will focus on the financial technology side of financial services and on agriculture, as well as other sectors of the economy. Technology is the next frontier that will drive business significantly. Agriculture is a mainstay of any major economy, and we are investing heavily in these core sectors of our economy without leaving others unattended. We are investing in our people to grow capacity, and ensure we have the required solutions in the fintech and agribusiness space. We also want to ensure a solid client base in these sectors. While we work with the top three fintech companies in Nigeria, we also work with mid-sized companies in agriculture and manufacturing.

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