“When I was younger, I used to read a lot of the biographies of great men who came from humble beginnings. I realized that persistence, having a goal in life, and not giving up no matter what the odds are, are things you always have to keep in mind.” These words from Roberto Manabat encompass his life and work philosophy.

A self-made man, Mr. Manabat has earned the gratitude and recognition of his peers – he has won the 2018 Outstanding Professional of the Year in Accounting in 2018, the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the UE Alumni Association in 2013, and the Outstanding Certified Public Accountant in Government Service from the Philippine Institute of CPAs in 2005. His expertise has also led to several invitations to teach and lead, and he was granted the title Doctor-Fellow by the Royal Institution of Singapore in 2018, as acknowledgement of his contributions, experience, and achievements.

Mr. Manabat started his career with SyCip Gorres Velayo & Co (SGV), the largest professional services firm in the Philippines that provides assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. He stayed with SGV for thirty years where he became a Senior Partner, Management Committee member, Audit Group Head, and Insurance Industry Practice Head. He also served the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for three years as its first General Accountant where he led the rollout of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) for adoption in the Philippines. He also started the accreditation process of auditors for listed companies accredited by the SEC. He initiated the reviews of the financial statements filed by listed companies and issued comments on deficiencies noted to the companies and their auditors. The quality of the accounting profession in the country was greatly enhanced by these initiatives.

Mr. Manabat joined KPMG, Laya Mananghaya and Co. as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 2007. Through a combination of his aggressive recruitment techniques and comprehensive staff training, he was able to elevate the relatively-unknown firm with 436 employees and an annual revenue of PHP 395 million, to 1127 employees and an annual revenue of PHP 1.225 billion in 2017. Renaming the firm R.G Manabat and Co. to underline its new management, Mr. Manabat catapulted the company to be one of the top accounting and auditing firms in the Philippines.

Under his leadership, R.G Manabat and Co. was instrumental in developing and acquiring the necessary managerial talent to sustain a much bigger operation. Mr. Manabat took time to speak with his managers and staff, passing his own AIM experiences to enhance their managerial and technical skills. He sent his promising staff to various seminars and training both locally and internationally to ensure that they will deliver the quality service fit for the firm’s global reputation.

During his term as Chairman and CEO of KPMG R.G. Manabat, various financial scandals beset the accounting world; in response, Mr. Manabat began to advocate good corporate governance by joining the Institute of Corporate Directors, the premier corporate governance advocate in the Philippines. Under his watch, the firm had a regular weekly column called Top of Mind, which shared articles on accounting and tax issues, as well as developments in the business world. Mr. Manabat also spearheaded the firm’s policy of finding, backing, and nurturing clients that show promising potential – an initiative that extends to funding entrepreneurs, with a donation of PHP 500,000 to the Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competitiveness to help uplift local businesses. He has also taken the lead in helping those less fortunate, particularly victims of typhoons Yolanda, Nina, and the Marawi Siege.

Persistence and determination are what brought Mr. Manabat to where he is now, and he firmly believes that, given the right drive, anyone can succeed.