SVB collapse serves up a lesson for UAE startups: Diversify funds

Experts turned the spotlight on the rapidly changing business landscape at the the fourth Nafa summit organised by Khaleej Times


Nasreen Abdulla

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Tue 14 Mar 2023, 8:24 PM

Last updated: Wed 15 Mar 2023, 8:04 AM

The unexpected collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) is a learning moment for startups, according to panellists at the New-Age Finance and Accounting (Nafa) summit organised by Khaleej Times.

“It is something no one ever expected. So, it serves as a reminder for startups to not depend on only one bank, and diversify their funds," said Amit Agarwal, CFO of Trukker, a logistics and transportation company.

Experts in the country had stressed that although the swift closure of SVB and Signature Bank sent shockwaves through global markets, its impact on the country was expected to be minimal, thanks to accessible financial support for startups here.

Besides the SVB issue, entrepreneurs and thought leaders also discussed the changing business landscape and how firms should adapt. Today, it has become more expensive to make mistakes, a CEO told the Nafa summit held in Dubai on Tuesday.

“Since the interest rate has gone up, losing money cost more today than it did since the previous financial crisis,” said Armin Moradi, CEO and co-founder of fintech company Qashio.

“It's expensive to make mistakes and a way to actually afford making mistakes is to ensure that you control your outflow of money. Basically, control what you can be in control of and explore what you need to explore to be able to grow your organisation.”

Even the role of chief financial officers (CFOs) has evolved. “A CFO needs to gain courage and step outside of the box that they have been hiding within and actually be prepared to take risks,” Moradi added.

“Maybe not with money, but with their time to invest. So, to take risks with their time and invest in a little bit more bold activities and projects that can help differentiate and accelerate the organizations they work for.”

Anurag Chaturvedi, CEO of tax consultancy firm Andersen UAE, added that since business is now dependent on innovations, CFOs should understand technologies. Otherwise, "they can't function".

“Technology brings a lot of opportunities but also a huge amount of risk. If you don't understand the risk, then opportunities are difficult to comprehend into achievable outcomes," Chaturvedi said.


Nafa 2023 brought together finance leaders and professionals from across GCC countries to discuss the existing professional landscape, deliberate on the role of technology within their domain, and develop strategies for upcoming opportunities and challenges.

Michael Bonito, territory sales manager of OneStream, said the key takeaway from the event was that change was inevitable.

“When it comes to finance and accounting — just like how it is in any other industry or vertical — change is coming and none of us can avoid it. So finance teams are now faced with the challenge of adapting to that change or being left behind.”

S. Venkatesh, managing partner at MCA, a professional services firm, said he was glad to have been associated with the event. “So many things are evolving. The change is a constant. There were various veteran leaders who gave us very good insights on many topics. This is the occasion where we get an idea about other industries."

Nilesh Devadia, director of business development at Khaleej Times, said the fourth edition of Nafa was a huge success. “Thanks to the perseverance and dedication of the team and the unwavering support of our partners, we were able to deliver an exceptional experience for all attendees,” he said.

“From engaging speakers and informative sessions to impressive networking opportunities — Nafa delivered what was promised. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to making this event a huge success and looking forward to welcoming you all for the next edition of Nafa.”

Arun Sadagopan, regional sales director for MEA at Jedox, said participating in Nafa was a great opportunity for them to showcase the company. “In today's rapidly changing business landscape, finance professionals need to be able to quickly adapt to new technologies and stay ahead of the curve,” he said. “Technology vendors like Jedox can help by providing solutions that are adaptable, integrated, and simple to use, making it easier for finance teams to collaborate and succeed.”

Nimish Makvana from Crowe added: “The UAE is evolving with stronger regulatory framework, so it is very important that the finance and accounting community evolves with those changes. Khaleej Times is bringing this event that is a great platform for everyone in the industry. The speakers have shared a lot of wisdom on how the UAE market is changing and what you can expect next so that you can be prepared.”

Corporate tax

One of the hotly debated topics at this year's Nafa summit was the corporate tax that will be implemented in the UAE starting June this year.

Shiraz Khan, partner and head of tax of Al Tamimi and Co, held a masterclass that detailed what the corporate tax would do for companies in the country. According to him, it will change the business environment of the UAE for the better.

“Invoicing practices, transfer pricing and so many other things that businesses didn’t really care about will all become streamlined to be compliant,” he said.

Vikas R Panchal, general manager for Mena at TallyPrime, said that the introduction of corporate tax would be a game-changer even for small businesses. “It is now necessary for each and every business, whether it is a 'solopreneur' or a freelancer, to at least keep books of records,” he said.

“Accounts must be maintained properly. Even if they are not eligible, they will have to prove that. So, it becomes all the more necessary to ensure that the accounts and records are in the proper place.”


More news from Business