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15/07/2016

David Bates - Navigating change

David Bates is the managing partner of the Durban Mazars office and represents this office both at national and international level.

Bates characterises his professional journey as one of perseverance. He said that this ability has stood him in good stead over the years. In order to become a Chartered Accountant (CA), he completed his Bachelor of Commerce part time at the then Natal University and then completed his Honours degree and articles through UNISA. “This required much self discipline and took much dedication and long hours of study,” commented Bates. He added that he did not think that the necessity for perseverance had changed over the years in the auditing and accounting profession. His proactive work ethic saw him being appointed as a managing partner of the Durban Branch of Mazars in 1988, which has broadened his range of responsibility substantially

Over the past 20 years, Bates said that he has had to face a number of challenges. He explained, “Things change, nowadays there is immediacy in the business world. People don’t want to wait for facts and figures. Advancements also mean that you have to keep abreast of computerisation and technological developments, which can also be costly, as technical excellence is a given.”

He has also experienced challenges in navigating the various changes in South African law, including labour and Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment legi- slation, which have affected the way that we do business. Bates said, “It is important to stay focused on the requirements of the profession and ignore the noises. However, it is also important to navigate the changes and pull in solutions for our clients.”

He added, “We need to ensure that our profession stays relevant. Current financial services generally revolve around meeting the client’s needs and this often entails
being recognised as a trusted advisor. Nowadays, advice is often more significant than the numbers that are produced.”

Furthermore, Bates said that the values that underlie Mazars are every important to the firm. He said. “It is essential that we adhere to these in all that we have to do. This can be challenging in an auditing capacity, but it is necessary to keep one’s integrity and independence as well as have respect for diversity.” Bates commented, “I lead by example, as a managing partner I also have my own clients. Therefore, it is case of do as I do and do as I say.”

It is no surprise that with such an ethos that Mazars was awarded a Top Employers South Africa 2016. In addition, Mazars Durban has a training office and provides ongoing programmes for its staff as well as provides opportunities for trainees to complete their articles. Bates firmly believes that more needs to be done to ensure that young people acquire appropriate skills from an early age and that improved standards are achieved across all levels of education in the country. He added that a failure to address this problem impacts negatively on the working environment.

Bates said the firm invests in developing the next generation of employees because succession planning forms an important strategy of Mazars. He said, “We need to attract young partners. We also would also like to assist in developing new young staff. By assisting them to grow we get a sense of achievement. It is also important that we don’t employ people who go to work for the sake of work, but that get personal satisfaction out of their chosen profession.”

Bates said, “An important project aligned to the focus on employee training is an assessment of what our company will look like in the next 20 years. It is essential to evaluate what the client really wants and look at their future needs. Then one can work out how to navigate the client’s success over the next framework.”

Bates is married with two grown up children. He enjoy regularly gym sessions, which he says is a health necessity and plays golf when able to find the time, as well as enjoys travelling.

 David Bates - KZN Business Leader -. pdf


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