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Finance interview series: Anshu Mehan, HSKSG | Distinct

As part of our brand new finance leadership interview series, we recently sat down with Anshu Mehan, Director of HSKSG.

With over 35 years of finance experience, Anshu shares her advice on perseverance, acquisitions and mergers, the current finance market and talent shortages, alongside advice for women in finance.

"I'm Anshu, Director at HSKSG Accountants, now part of the wider Dains Group since September 2023."

Where and how I started my career in finance takes me a long time back.

 

I started at the age of 20, by joining the banking industry and then moved on to accountancy sector and now been in the accountancy sector for more than 35 years. It’s a long career.

 

I have seen many ups and downs during this period. I had great mentors who pushed me to be where I am today and at the same, time I also faced reluctance, both from my peers as well as from my customers, who thought I was different.

 

My language was different. My accent was different. I looked different.

Yes, I am different. And I want to be different. I don’t want to be one of many.

But it took me a few years to convince them that being different is not always bad. 

 

I had to convince them… I understand finance better, I understand tax better. I understand, most importantly, your business better. So as a package, I can actually give you better advice than from many of those you already know. They have accepted it over the years. That’s been proven from how many clients I’m dealing with today.

 

So, if you are determined, you can get there.

 

The best role in my career I enjoyed was, or is, actually, my role as a general practitioner. As a general practitioner, we face a different challenge every day. Every day is a new day.

 

I enjoy managing the practice. I enjoy encouraging my team every day – “come on, we can do it!” and helping them to progress in their career, giving them examples of where I was and where I am. And that’s a big, big encouragement for all of them.

 

I enjoy helping my owner business clients and making them grow because I know if they grow, I will grow with them. And that’s the motto of my career.

 

I still enjoy, as if I started my career on day one, and hope I will carry on enjoying it for many more years to come.

 

That’s me, in short, over the last 37 years.

HSKSG, as I said earlier, have been acquired by Dains Group back in September 2023.

 

As a management team, my main motto was that I wanted a group where the values and the culture of the two groups are similar, if not the same.

 

I believe that the technology, the systems, the processes, everything can be brought in at a later stage. Those systems and those technologies keep on changing and teams are quite happy to adopt those changes.

 

The most difficult factor is merging the two values and two cultures together. If they are similar, the combined group will grow faster.

In my view, when merging the two systems and processes, what we need to be careful about is that… 

 

We need to do planning right from the beginning – and get the team involved, right from the beginning and throughout the process. Because it’s the team who is going to deliver, to the ultimate customer, these processes and the systems. If they are not accepting it, they can’t deliver a good quality.

The modern practice industry is definitely changing. I believe two factors; artificial intelligence and globalisation are beginning to make a bigger difference – and it will continue to be the case.

 

So the whole world is becoming a smaller place. That’s going to impact the practices anywhere in the world. With using artificial intelligence, you could be sitting anywhere.

 

Hybrid working has become a norm in the industry now. Before COVID, that was like, very unheard of; “everybody has to be in the office.”

 

Whereas now, you could be sitting here, you could be sitting in another part of the world, but you’re still part of the same team. You can talk on the MS Teams to everybody together. Hence, it’s the whole world is very closely knit together.

 

 So it’s not just about outsourcing the work to the other countries and all that. It’s more about your team could be sitting anywhere and therefore you got better choice; you can have the best talent from anywhere in the world, at the best value.

From the time when I joined the industry to now, yes, the data shows that less and less people are joining this accountancy and finance sector – or accountancy sector in particular.

 

I believe there are a couple of factors that have made this change.

 

One of that is automation; to some extent it has suppressed the work or the demand for the accountants and at a lower level.  

 

Secondly, I believe that the salaries in the finance and accounting sector are still lower compared to some of the sectors like I.T.. Hence, we are struggling to attract talent.

 

However, saying that, there is always a demand for a good Business Advisor, a good Consultant, and we will always be there to help the economies grow in any country.

Women in leadership and finance definitely is improving. But I believe at a… the rate of growth could be better

 

Having said that, judging the polls, it appears the country is on its course to have the first female Chancellor of the Exchequer – and if that happens, we should celebrate!

The finance sector is very much a male-dominated sector. It always has been. It still is. But with the change in the attitude in society, of bringing gender equalisation, I would say the percentage is definitely improving.

 

But it’s not the… I would say it’s not a game of numbers. What we need to change is the environment.

 

We need to create an environment where women feel more safer, they feel more respected, they feel… that they don’t have to prove that they are the best, or that they have to prove themselves to get to the top.

 

My personal view is that, I’m sorry, that there is still a lot to be done. We are not there.

I would say companies, just like anyone else, they need to change their attitude to remove this imbalance.

 

Those who are in the decision-making position, they need to understand this changing attitude of the 21st century and then have the courage to make, to bring that change.

 

It’s not the time to just talk about it. I think the time is now to deliver it. Those at the top of the decision-making position are the individuals who can make this change.

As I originally said, I had various ups and downs. 

I would say… that women should not shy away from taking up challenges or facing any obstacles.

 

They are equal, if not better and they should believe in themselves.  Success in life is dependent on their intelligence, on their hard work and determination – and not on their gender, race or their colour.

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