Dear Mazars Denge employees and distinguished guests,
I salute you with great love and respect.
About 25 years ago, when I was about to start working as an accountant at Astel Kağıtçılık, a thought entered my head: “Today I woke up early. Now I’m waiting for the service bus. I’ll get to work at a certain time, work during the day, and return home at a specific time. From now on, I’ll be doing the same thing all my life. WHY?”
What would I get in return? I would get a salary, earn money and I will gain the ability to stand on my own feet. Nice. WHAT ELSE? I would learn new things, meet new people and gain professional experience. Very good. What else? I would become a manager when the right time came, and I would be powerful and grow the company. I knew I could go on adding to the list. However, all of these answers did not resolve my great, underlying question: was it worth spending most of the rest of my life doing only one thing? There was something missing, and as an 18-year-old, I was unable to pinpoint that missing part.
At our home business is a very common topic of discussion. Our founder Mr. Leon Coşkun never accepts sloppy work and always seeks quality in every aspect of the business. For our CFO Sarah Coşkun one cent difference in any balance is considered a mistake and she will refuse to proceed until the origin of that mistake is identified. I have been raised by principles such as honesty, standing behind your word and fairness.
When I graduated from university, Arthur Andersen was among the most prestigious companies and a place where all my friends wanted to get a job. We greatly envied those of our friends who began their careers there. I remember once when the company visited our university for a career day. The conference hall was so fully packed that the application forms were insufficient, and those who could get hold of one of those forms were hesitant to give copies of it to their classmates because of the fierce competition among them. A few years later, in 2001, what caused that giant Arthur Andersen simply vanish at the peak of its reputation. They had all the money, experience, power and greatness I just mentioned. But it was as if Arthur Andersen had strayed from its founding principle, “think right, speak right”, which was taught to its founder as a child by his mother. This was a great lesson for everyone, especially those in our sector.
I was taking the PhD proficiency oral exam and gave my business card to the professors when one of them looked at my card and asked, “What is your business?” I said “As Mazars Denge, we provide accounting, tax, independent auditing, and consultancy services.” “What do you sell?” he asked. I started again, “We provide accounting, tax” He interrupted me: “Do not repeat the same answer. Listen to what I said. I asked, what do you sell?” I understood that I would not be able to answer his question right away. I thought, “Maybe he will forget his question,” and said, “That is a very good question. Give me some time to think about it as I answer your other questions.” I answered the other professors’ questions and was about to finish when he stared at me and said, “ You did not forget my question right?” At that moment, an answer popped into my mind. “We sell trust” I said. The professor smiled and said,“Now you are talking!”
I pursued my PhD studies for 7 years as I continued to work. During this difficult period, I was introduced to the concept of “sustainable development” which taught me to think long term and stated that as we satisfy the needs of today, we should think about our responsibilities towards the future generations. I quoted James Lovelock’s “Gaia Theory” in the introductory part of my thesis. According to this theory, everything on earth is connected to each other, and everything holds an indispensable importance for the entire system. Now, I would like to ask you: how can we fulfill our responsibility towards the future generations if we act by denying the existence of such a connection, if we only aim to maximize our personal interests, if we use only money as the measure of success, and if we ignore the environmental and social impact we cause in everything we do and at every step we take?
The professor in the jury was right. We do sell “trust.” As a matter of fact, we search for the “truth,” and as we search for it, concurrently we become aware of our responsibilities towards the society. These responsibilities are so great that any mistake we make – in a tax certification report we sign, in an independent audit opinion we provide, in a tax return that we submit any mistake means misguiding the ordinary person on the street, who lies at the very end of the value chain. This awareness of duty requires that we prioritize humans, not money, that we adhere to our values to the end, and that we create sustainable value for all our stakeholders. When I say “sustainable value,” I mean balancing economic returns with social and environmental impacts. I want to underline that our objective is not “growth,” which is a quantitative concept, but “development,” a qualitative one.
We published our first sustainability report in GRI G4 format a few months ago in accordance with the United Nations Global Compact we signed last year. We presented our business model in this report, placing our values such as reliability, ethics, quality, customized services at the core of this model. We will adhere to these values with all our employees and stakeholders within the framework of corporate governance.
If we go back to the question “WHY,” I now understand better why I continue to exert myself with the same motivation every day, without getting tired. The traits were instilled in me from an early age, and I have endeavored to apply them in my life no matter the conditions. They made it easy for me to believe in the values that have brought Mazars Denge to the present day, and which – I believe with all my heart – will carry it into future. And as the CEO of this company, I know I have to protect these values under any circumstances. These values completely overlap with those that make me who I am, and they tie me to this company with unbreakable bonds.
We will continue to help you sleep soundly with the accounts you entrust to us, the audits that you require us to perform, and the answers we carefully prepare to your questions. We would like to thank all of you for joining us in celebrating our 40th anniversary. Thank you for trusting and believing in us for these 40 years.
To many more 40 year anniversaries!
Dr. İzel Levi Coşkun
CEO / Mazars Denge