Nexus-backed Uniqus aims to change the face of consultancy market

Uniqus Consultech aims to be a pure consulting firm devoid of any auditor biases for the Middle Eastern, Indian and United States markets.

Nexus-backed Uniqus aims to change the face of consultancy market

Wednesday February 01, 2023,

4 min Read

In 2022, accounting firm Ernst & Young decided to split its auditing and consulting businesses to avoid conflict of interest, in a move that reignited an age-old debate on whether it is ethical for accounting firms to offer both consulting and auditing services. 

For a long, accounting firms have come under fire for conflicts of interest due to these companies conducting both audits and consulting work for the same or related companies. These conflicts often result in a breach of fiduciary duties, corporate misstatements, and sometimes even fraud.

Two former KPMG employees Jamil Khatri and Sandip Khetan pondered over the same dilemma and decided to build a consultancy firm that allows them to advise companies without any bias.

In January 2023, the duo established Uniqus Consultech, a consulting firm that provides consultancy services related to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and accounting. The team consciously decided to not include auditing in their host of services.

“We are a pure play consultancy. This allows us to do the end-to-end implementation and consulting work for our clients without worrying about conflicts of interest,” Jamil, Co-founder of Uniqus told YourStory Gulf

While the team is spread across the world, the company is incorporated in Delaware, United States. It also has a clientele spread across the Middle East, the United States and India.

Uniqus also wants consultancy to be driven by technology. 

“Historically, the consultancy has involved very little technology. But we want to change this. We can help companies embed technology and automation in all elements of the finance function such as automating the consolidation of financial statements, consolidating data and more,” said Sandip, co-founder of Uniqus.

Uniqus raised $12.5 million in a Series A round from Nexus Venture Partners, Delhivery, Postman, Zepto, Turtlemint, and others. During the same time, it acquired Indian ESG consulting firm SustainPlus and onboarded Anu Chaudhary, Founder and CEO of SustainPlus, as the Global Head of ESG in Uniqus.

Demand for consultancy in the Middle East

The consultancy market in the GCC region is growing rapidly. According to Source Global Research, the GCC consulting market recorded its fastest growth in 2021 and clocked an 18% growth to exceed $3 billion. This growth has been mostly driven by economic transformation efforts in the region such as Expo 2020 Dubai, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. 

Jamil, who overlooks the ESG consulting part of the firm, feels that the Middle East poses both a challenge and an opportunity.

“On the ESG front, the Middle East is in a very difficult or unique position because a lot of its economy is still driven by oil. But what we are sensing is that governments in the region are becoming more conscious to build companies that promote a sustainable future. Again, they also want new infrastructure projects including cities and ports to be built keeping in mind the sustainability factor. While on the ground, there is a lot of conversation happening, it would require a lot of investments,” Sandip says. 

He adds that there is also a need for ESG regulation in GCC, like the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting in India, under which Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) made it mandatory for companies to disclose their policies and mechanisms geared towards ESG compliance. 

In terms of accounting, Sandip feels that the initiatives to privatise public sector companies are opening the scope for consultancy in the region.

“Privatisation of local public companies is opening new opportunities for companies to invest and improve their existing governance and systems. Again, regulators are introducing mandatory income taxes. These are opportunities we are tapping into,” Sandip explained. 

Uniqus competes with the likes of Accenture, PwC, Infosys and Deloitte.

“Apart from not offering auditing services like Deloitte or PwC, another way we differ from these companies is that our offerings are global. A Deloitte India will provide services only to Indian companies, and a PwC UAE will focus only on the companies within that region. But for us, our focus is more global, similar to an Accenture or Infosys,” Jamil adds.

The team declined to share details about their revenue. 

Future Plans

The upcoming quarter will be crucial for the team as it plans to onboard consultants from across the globe. While the current team size remains undisclosed, Uniqus aims to become a team of 75 to 100 consultants globally by the end of March 2023. It also plans to have at least 30 to 50 of those consultants to be based in the Middle East.

Moreover, the startup hopes to clock a revenue of more than a million dollars by the end of the first quarter of FY2023.

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Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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