Interview with Daniel Martin: The CA having a golden time in the desert

Gold bars
By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

17 August 2016

Working with valuable cargo in the United Arab Emirates provides a unique set of opportunities and challenges for Daniel Martin CA, GM of Armaguard Valuables Management.

"The culture and the way of doing business is different from the UK," Daniel says. "However, operating in a global business which has a base in the Middle East is very rewarding and satisfying from a work experience perspective.

"I think that’s where the CA qualification certainly has a relevance; I have been able to rely on the basic CA principles of technical excellence, diligence, integrity and ethical awareness to enable me to perform and add value on an international platform.”

Armaguard Valuables Management (AVM) is a joint venture between the Armaguard Group, based in Australia and New Zealand and Etihad Aviation Group, based in the United Arab Emirates capital, Abu Dhabi.

AVM provides secure logistics services to the global Valuables market, couriering premium cargo like gold, jewellery, diamonds and banknots through its network of aircraft and armoured vehicles.

Daniel Martin

Daniel was promoted to General Manager of AVM earlier this year after being in the UAE for two years.

"I joined Etihad Aviation Group two years ago in a Head of Finance position. I was acting as Finance Director for a number of EAG’s Corporate Investments and Subsidiaries with oversight for all financial, governance and business partnering matters in relation to the division.

"Etihad Aviation Group has a number of joint ventures with international partners in which they are the majority shareholder.

"From January I was asked to takeover the GM position of one of these businesses: Armaguard Valuables Management LLC."

From East End to Middle East

Originally from Glasgow, Daniel gained his CA qualification in 2005 and spent three years as a Transaction Services manager within Deloitte’s UK corporate finance division.

He moved into a corporate finance management accounting role at Celtic Football Club based in the east end of his hometown. Celtic PLC is one of the very few UK football clubs listed on the UK stock exchange.

"I went from Deloitte and being in the profession to suddenly finding myself in the world of football.

"For somebody who is a fan of football and had watched from the side, to actually be involved from a working perspective was an exciting and interesting experience.

"The highs are a lot higher when you work there and the lows are a lot lower as you start to quantify matches by winning or losing where previously you might have just had the enjoyment.

“Learning from an experienced and knowledgeable Board of Directors in a listed environment and combining it with one of my passions in life was truly an invaluable experience in my career to date.”

To actually be involved [in football] from a working perspective was an exciting and interesting experience.

In making the switch from audit to professional services and to various roles within the business sector, the CA proved instrumental.

"I think the CA qualification definitely, from a training perspective, provides you with great building blocks and the tools needed to progress your career. The possibilities are endless.

"As a senior manager and leader, being able to translate numbers and communicate them so people from a non-financial background can understand them is quite unique. I think you achieve a certain level of respect around the table when people understand you have a CA background.

"Definitely you are valued as part of the team, it’s all about the skills you can bring forward."

Adding value as a number cruncher

As well as a financial skillset, being able to communicate well with industry leaders and having the ability to adapt to different aspects of his job has put Daniel in charge of an international operation.

"In terms of my current role, it’s different from the traditional finance manager or finance director role.

"It’s very varied and I am tasked with overseeing the day to day running of the entire JV, everything from sales, operations, finance, legal and HR to planning the strategy of the business and implementing that strategy with the assistance of a talented senior management team."

However, the added responsibility comes with a lot of people to please.

"You are being mandated by a board of directors and shareholders but you are given the responsibility to make decisions.

The rewarding aspect is not just advising others but actually having to go with your own gut instinct.

"With the CA you can be finance based and have a transferable skillset that takes you over into a more commercial environment. The rewarding aspect from a work perspective is not just advising others but actually having to go with your own gut instinct and make tangible decisions."

The unique situation of both the industry and location must make Daniel’s role a difficult one.

"Obviously, a big challenge at the moment, especially in the Middle East, is the price of oil, which has had an affect on the whole region.

"Ironically, lower fuel costs are beneficial to the logistics market. We are more susceptible to the price of gold for our commodity shipments and extreme fluctuations in exchange rates with some of our banknotes movements.

"Our focus has been on ensuring we maintain high customer service standards as well as promoting Abu Dhabi as one of the most important Valuable hubs in the world.

”AVM’s objective is to provide the most cost effective, secure and partner focused solutions to the global Valuables market.

“The aim is to emulate the success of both AVM’s shareholders who are world leaders in the Aviation and Security industry respectively.”

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