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The rise of boutique accounting services

‘One of the key pillars of our success is our people.’

MACKY C.  KATIGBAK  Founder and President  E-MANAGE, INC.

MACKY C. KATIGBAK
Founder and President
E-MANAGE, INC.

If the huge demand for accountants were the basis for growth of businesses in this country, then, indeed, we have a thriving entrepreneurial Filipinos.

 Not only Filipinos at that but many foreign firms building their presence here and are outsourcing their financial and accounting functions. This practice was made more prevalent starting 2005.

Macky C. Katigbak, who hails from a family of accountants, saw and grabbed this opportunity to set up his own enterprise, the E-Manage, Inc.

THE COMPANY

E-Manage, Inc. (EMI) was founded in 2002 as a boutique outsourcing company that caters to the needs for accounting, tax, and legal services for foreign and local companies.

Since then, E-Manage has been servicing many small to medium companies that are looking for specialized solutions for their individual accounting needs. Its team consists of CPAs, tax consultants, and lawyers with the experience needed to provide specialized solutions.

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“We are committed to creating a global company and cohesive organization in which everyone works as a team and relates to each other in a family-like environment. With more than 10 years of delivering quality service, EMI boasts of a very prestigious clientele which includes SME’s and MNC’s from across industries,” says Macky.

At first, it targeted the small and medium enterprises who wanted to outsource accounting works to affordable but reliable partner. During those days, accountants work from home as freelance. But the emerging Filipino businessmen want a more formal set up with permanent offices to boot. E-Manage fits the qualification.

“The idea was to offer professional service without burdening our clients with uncertainties of facing BIR issues,” says Macky.

E-Manage does not discriminate clients, it offers the same service to all clients that other accounting firms only offer to their big clients.

“We have similar services for big and small firms from basic accounting process to consultancy, we help manage their expenses and tax obligations,” says Macky.

By doing this, E-Manage is paving the way for their client’s growth and preparing them for bigger responsibilities like going public.

“We know everyone has different business needs and it is critical to start with a partner who understands these needs,” says Macky.

E-Manage’s range of services include accounting, tax and payroll, general accounting services, bookkeeping, accounting outsourcing, monthly & quarterly tax preparation and filing services, preparation of financial reports, payroll services, payroll outsourcing, payroll computation, mandatory government compliance (Social Security System, PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG) – computation, preparation, payment and reporting.

MODESTY 

Macky is a finance guy with a master in business administration (MBA). He sets lofty goals for his services, but started small with an office that serves as an annex to his mom’s office at home.

From only two employees, he now has 35 all accountants and still counting and a growing number of local companies with foreign clients.

He says he chose his clients well, not accepting unscrupulous companies who expect their accountants to do magic for them.

“We are not magicians, if we provide professional help we do it well by properly managing it for you so you won’t get into trouble. When the time you list in stock market, you don’t have to go back when you could have fixed it like five or ten years ago,” he adds. “We have to establish rapport and we go through our clients’ profile.”

With the Japanese economy becoming more recessionary, opportunities outside like the Philippines was an easy way out.

E-Manage was able to get hold of a few Japanese clients that eventually grow through word of mouth from their Japanese friends.

“We’ve been able to spread the word of our being reliable, inexpensive, and trustworthy,” says Macky.

Three years ago, Macky’s Japanese clients account for some 20 to 30 percent of their business but this market segmentation now has the bulk of E-Manage workload. And it is even easier because most of these Japanese firms are located in the economic zones.

Now, Macky has some Europeans and US-based as the Philippine accounting standards and principles are very similar.

FAMILY OF ACCOUNTANTS 

Actually, Macky does not like numbers and accounting.

“All my life, I avoided numbers, the funny part was that I come from a family of accountants,” says Macky.

“When I applied for my courses in college there was very little on finance subjects but I am always fond of economics because it tells about movement of markets,” says Macky.

After college, he took up his MBA on finance and entrepreneurship because to him financing is a bigger subject in the world of business.

“I can never be a technical personal but I can sell the idea to manage the number,” he adds.

Now, he has a good team of accountants with good analytical abilities. In the next three years, E-Manage will seek to expand but Macky says this would be through organic expansion. This means, they have to hire more people to do the job.

“As much as I want to grow the firm aggressively I have to search for quality  talent to contribute to growth,” says Macky.

According to Macky, he is in search of more defined type of people he would like to grow.

“I want to raise the capability of my staff and to engage them,” says Macky. This can be done by equipping employees with the right tools to enable them to adopt new skills to undertake new accounting procedures and IT processes.

In fact, Macky has also a soft spot for millennials (20 to 25 years) or newly graduates and new CPAs that he can train.

Because of the company’s thrust and relationship with people, E-Manage has a very low attrition rate of less than 20 percent. Other companies may be paying higher but money is not all there is to keep people from jumping off the ship.

“We pay a little higher but not above board,” says Macky. Other firms can get higher pay but they pay little attention towards professional growth. Not only that, because E-Manage is small, the organized has a more personalize relationship.

“We share meal together, that’s what happens. I get to see documents and brings the water and go to the pantry. It is a family-like environment so we are closer to each other,” he adds.

Even as E-Manage is expanding and growing in size and getting more professionalized, Macky would like to keep that close-knit family environment.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Macky even dreamed of reaching the level of one of the country’s most prestigious accounting and consultancy services.

“That is a great dream to be an institution of sort but the idea comes with the responsibility,” says Macky, who realizes that great responsibility. He believes that his company becomes a facilitator being an entry point for companies wanting to do business in the country and on to a greater future like listing in the stock market.

“So we focus on helping them even as we try also to build our niche to serve the small and medium enterprises. That is our market and we are happy with that, we don’t have big contracts but we there is a good potential,” he adds.

Young companies like E-Manage has also an edge over the big institutions as they are agile and more innovative. Size cannot necessarily be equated with superior service than the smaller ones.

“Because we are a boutique firm we are more dynamic and flexible and our clients are happy with us,” says Macky.

E-Manage does not even has sales nor marketing arm but it gets considerable influx of clients.

“We have some 150 to 160 clients, some simple some complex ones. But we don’t look at ourselves in terms of number because the number is not a conscious thing these clients have different needs,” says Macky.

In fact, what is important for Macky is they have happy clients. Of course, one cannot please everybody but Macky makes sure they end up in a proper manner so they could both move forward.

“At some point our doors are open as we find some clients are coming back as they realized they feel happier with us,” says Macky.

PEOPLE

“One of the key pillars of our success is our people,” Macky declares. The firm prescribes to a culture of professionalism and service excellence.

“We hire individuals who embrace our core values. We believe in a passion for service and strive to create a service culture that infuse our entire organization,” says Macky.

Its team is comprised of accountants and seasoned individuals who are conversant with various aspects in accounting, payroll, taxation and associated fields.

“Our team is kept fully up to date with all the latest developments to be able to provide accurate information and excellent service to our clients,” says Macky.

From an initial capitalization of R62,000 for the incorporation requirement, the company was able to outgrow itself. From his mother’s outgrowth office, E-Manage has now acquired an office in Makati. The success of E-Manage is a combination of having a good team, who shares the same passion for quality work, and a nurturing professional relationship with clients.

He recalled how their conversations with fellow graduate school classmates whose salaries went into the six-digit figure with car plan and a corner office by companies who hired them.

Of course, there was a hint of envy in there, but “After ten years of hardwork, we’re now sustainable.” Perhaps that patience has earned him more now than when he was employed by a big company.

“I am at a comfortable level to provide for my family, my wife and two kids, who are now of school age, and take them to trips,” says Macky.

Gone are the days when he would ask himself where to get some “rackets” to earn as much as his schoolmates were earning.

“This is perfect enough for the needs for my family and myself,” adds Macky, who other than being a typical husband and father, is also a fond of vintage cars.

Macky looks up to his father, who despite being born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, still remains a simple and practical guy.

“He taught me to be content. When I asked if I buy something, he would ask if I really need it. I don’t have the latest and the best to be happy but something that works,” says Macky.

As a child of rich parents, he was exposed to the finer things in life, but it was his family that put him grounded. He was fond of watches but he would be happy to get the triple A gifts that he treasures like it was the original thing.

“My family keeps me grounded and God-fearing,” says Macky, who may not be the hardcore religious but observes the church teachings sacraments.

E-Manage also tries to give back to the community when they visited a house for the elderly and children run by Korean nuns in Parañaque where they had lunch and provided some of their basic needs.

“Given all the blessings, I would make it a point to thank Him,” he says.

CHALLENGE

In the medium term, he sees his company on a conservative growth path.

But Macky also looks forward to someday finding the right location and partners to be able to provide the same services in other parts of the country and perhaps in other ASEAN countries.

“Operating in other places is very possible, time will tell but with bridges we can build over the course but we have to find the right location and partners,” adds Macky, who put patience as his number one lesson as an entrepreneur.

“I am not the type of person that changes drastically when I start a business which I am involved in,” says Macky noting that he still tracks more opportunities in this sector that he currently serves.

“I could do this because I have trust in my team,” says Macky, who does not micro manage anymore because his trustworthy team gives him more leeway to explore new opportunities.

The company’s 10 percent growth in sales year on year also enabled his employees to travel to Asian cities as their incentives.

“If the company feels that there is conscious effort to continue growth of individuals so everybody looks for challenges,” he adds.

The challenge now is the change in processes because of technology that afford enterprises to employ automation to replace the traditional way of accomplishing a particular task.

“We do have technology ready on our side so we are working with one friend who is developing accounting solutions but will still have back end run by people so it is not like it is the end of us. I don’t feel being phased out tomorrow so constantly trying to push that envelop of what makes us relevant in terms of what people need and what technology offers,” says Macky.

Automation, he says, is always a threat but it is really the creative way of looking at number so they have to be effective manager and get to overhaul its internal processes.

“We’re headed towards that direction,” adds Macky.

Looking back when Macky was the reluctant young graduate eager to do on his own, could be amazing.

At first, he was intimidated by the kind of clients and the hardest thing would be how to make them pay. But that is all gone now, as Macky embarks to the future with more confidence.