Having climbed the ranks within the organisation over the past 18 years, NM Group CEO, Beppe Muscat, has the insight required to steer the professional services firm in strategic directions. Coupled with his keen interest in the digital revolution and how this is shaping the world of work, he is determined to propel the business to the forefront of digital innovation across all of its operations – and beyond.

“The future of work is set to undergo significant changes over the next five to 10 years, as highlighted by research. By 2030, 85 per cent of new job entrants will be in positions that currently don’t exist,” says Beppe Muscat, the CEO of the professional services firm, NM Group. Quoting a 2019 report by global management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company on the impact of digital technology and automation across various economic sectors, he shares: “our company vision is based on this reality; on this digital revolution. Our vision is to transform the industry by leading change.”

This, he says, could help the country keep pace with international developments. “We want to lead by example. As our client base spans diverse industries, we are dedicated to assisting them to seamlessly adapt to the changes brought about by the digital revolution. Indeed, our company set-up and the strategic diversification of our offering, reinforces our strong alignment with this forward-thinking perspective. Beyond compliance, reporting and taxation, we’ve also launched our digital function. Our objective is to help our partners and customers transition to the digital revolution, to embrace cloud accounting, AI, robotic process automation, ChatGPT – but doing so strategically. We emphasise not just the utilisation of these tools, but also the strategic approach to the process, focusing on the how of incorporating these technologies and designing the infrastructure,” he asserts.

Beppe speaks from a position of knowledge. In his career that has spanned almost two decades with NM Group, he has gained experience within every department in the organisation, a company that was established by his father, Noel, in 1991. “It started as a one-man-band, with my mother helping out administratively. It was a different time then, with more barriers to entering the business world, but my parents still felt it was the time to take that leap,” he says, adding that the enterprise initially catered principally to local microenterprises and self-employed individuals. Beppe joined the firm full-time in 2012, by which point NM Group had grown to a staff complement of five.

However, over the years, Beppe’s “role has changed and adapted. I’m a certified public accountant and warranted auditor but, I was lucky: this was a family business, so I had the opportunity to get involved at a very young age, working through administrative roles first, before moving into more technical positions. It always felt like a very natural fit, as if I were born into this industry – and my leadership role today is very much aligned with my ambitions and passions,” he smiles.

When Beppe completed his full-time studies, he focused on the firm’s strategic concerns, including how to lead the organisation into its next stage of development. “I identified a huge opportunity for growth with international clients, in view of Malta’s attractive taxation system. It’s an area of business we had never considered before, but we started to expand and diversify our offering. Today, approximately 60 per cent of our client base is international, and we now employ over 60 individuals,” he says, emphasising that the firm, nonetheless, hasn’t forgotten its origins.

“We are aware that micro-enterprises and the self-employed require a specific service offering – it cannot be a one-size-fits-all. And, for the past 33 years, these smaller organisations and individual clients have been central to our efforts and decisions. We have partners who have been with us since the beginning, so we’ve built long-standing and meaningful relationships with them. That’s not going to change. One of the central tenets of my leadership is for NM Group to be known for our granular level of personalisation – and this is an area where we have some interesting projects and products lined up for the future,” the CEO explains.

Beppe’s dedication to his work is rooted in an understanding of the “important role we – as accountants and professional service providers – play in society. There’s a lot of pressure in our field due to the high level of compliance, but our position is vital, particularly in a small island state where most businesses are SMEs. In the context of small businesses, your most trusted business advisor is your accountant,” he attests. Indeed, this is part of the reason why he sees it as incumbent on those operating in the field to stay up-to-date with policy, industry and technological developments, both locally and globally.

For Beppe, this also means pushing for a deeper awareness of the issues, and, accordingly, he is also currently working on his doctorate, researching the impact of the digital revolution on the future of work. “Change is coming; it’s not a choice. The only decision we can take is how we’re going to deal with it. In my view, we need to try to anticipate it and make it an opportunity – and this is very much the way we operate here at NM Group,” he says. “So, staying ahead of the curve when it comes to digital transformation is key, and studies – including those published by the World Economic Forum – have shown that accountancy, in particular, will be impacted by developments in technology,” he says. “We need to adapt to new realities.”

Looking ahead to the future, Beppe shares that the group’s goal is not to “achieve a level of growth where we’re employing 200 or 300 people.” Instead, the firm’s single-minded focus is to prioritise the needs of their clients. “We aim to revolutionise the customer experience. This is not just rhetoric, and we have taken concrete steps already. Among other developments, we’ve introduced the role of Customer Experience Manager – a role that’s not usually found in accountancy firms, but we felt we needed someone in the organisation who was simply focused on client feedback, on being accountable to our clients, on being their advocates in internal discussions on new products, and who, when we’re introducing new services, can provide us with input from the customer’s perspective,” he says.

This year, the CEO attests, “has the potential to be the time when our vision comes to life. We’ve spent a number of years setting up the right structure and choosing the right people. So, our drive towards digital transformation will become more visible through the products we’ll launch, the investments we’ll make, as well as the diversification of our service offering. We’ll also continue to boost the customer experience by using the most appropriate and efficient technology, as well as by advancing the systems which surround it,” he continues.

Concluding, Beppe reiterates his commitment to the modernisation and development of the business community. “We’re confident we’ll be leading this change and making a positive impact on businesses. We need to push forward with this agenda, particularly considering the fundamental role played by the accountancy profession in our society.”

This article is part of the serialisation of 50 interviews featured in MaltaCEOs 2024 – the sister brand to MaltaCEOs.mt and an annual high-end publication bringing together some of the country’s most influential business leaders

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