FROM PRACTICE TO PROFESSION

Saudi Arabia 2018-19 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

Taqeem is revolutionizing asset valuations, making them based on standards and principles rather than opinions.

Soltan Aljorais
BIOGRAPHY
Soltan Aljorais was appointed Secretary General of the Saudi Authority for Accredited Valuers (Taqeem) in October 2017. Taqeem is a government regulator for the valuation profession in Saudi Arabia. He joined the organization in April 2013 and previously served as IT Director and VP of Shared Services. Soltan has been instrumental in creating and implementing regulations in real estate and business valuations in the Kingdom and worked with IVSC to translate and publish the international valuation standards into Arabic, serving 22 Arabic-speaking countries.

How do you envision developing the valuation profession in the country?

Taqeem started three years ago as a regulator for the business valuation profession. Today, the Saudi market has become more transparent and is gaining more public trust. Before the regulation, valuation was a mere practice in Saudi Arabia, so realtors valued real estate and accountants valued businesses. It was mostly based on experience; there was no education and no standards for valuation. We established four goals to shift valuation from a practice to a profession. The first goal was to set valuation standards. Thus, we joined the International Valuation Standard Council (IVSC) and translated the International Valuation Standards (IVS) to be implemented in Saudi Arabia. It is our ambition to be the regional leader for Arab countries for the valuation profession. With one of our staff as a member of the Standard Committee, we have qualified valuation professionals who work with global experts to bring standards up to par. Second, we enforced the regulations for the business valuation profession. As a result, we worked with the government to implement standards across the board, which included requiring valuers to have licensing. This means that asset valuations are based on standards and principles rather than opinions. Furthermore, we have set a code of conduct for valuers. Third, we are committed to educating people about valuations. It is our goal to distribute the knowledge to the community that there is something called valuation, and that you have to go to a valuer, a trusted source, before making your decisions. Our fourth focus point is the standardization of valuation, which is something we are working on thoroughly. Half of the country's business is in real estate, including renting, selling, and investments, so these valuations should be based on standards and actual value rather than expert opinions. Similarly for IPOs, it is good when professionals issue valuation reports before decisions are taken.

What fields of valuation are you currently prioritizing?

Taqeem has various valuation designations, including accredited real estate valuer (AR Taqeem) and accredited business valuer (AB Taqeem), but currently most of our activities are in real estate. We have around 900 licensed real estate valuers. Our business valuation primarily looks into intangible assets. A lot of companies here do not realize the value of their trademark, name, or goodwill, so we are trying to show them that they have an actual value. Moreover, we have a program with the SME Authority to help companies understand the value of their businesses and tell them whether to raise or lower their expectations. As for automobile damage assessment, our goal now is to provide information on how much the insurance company should pay to repair a car. Valuers can independently establish a value that is fair for all parties involved. Furthermore, we started a new program for valuers to specialize in valuing SMEs. It is actually more challenging to value SMEs than big companies because they lack historical data, and the risk for the business in SMEs is higher than in well-established large companies.

What is the purpose of Taqeem Academy in the practice of valuation?

Taqeem Academy consulted many international institutions such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the National Institute of Valuation (INSPEN) in Malaysia, and the International Institute of Business Valuers (iiBV) to localize, translate, and deliver courses in Arabic. We have now graduated 32 Saudi nationals as internationally accredited business valuers. Women are also participating heavily in real estate and business valuation sectors. In automobile damage assessment, we cooperated with KPMG and Thatcham, a UK-based, non-profit research center. Thatcham is currently working with us to build our internationally approved curriculum. A fourth program is in machinery and equipment valuation related to factory product lines.