Massat Rivaud Management (MRM) provides French companies in the United States with financial management, and accounting and advisory services on an ‘outsourcing’ basis as opposed to using in-house staff. In addition, MRM serves as a bridge between both cultures and offers business and cultural advice to its clients.
This advice consists of “explaining to people how local administrative and accounting domains operate in America, and explaining to people how they operate in France,” said Serge Massat, founder and president of MRM. An Expert Comptable Diplome‚ and a Certified Public Accountant, Massat came to the United States in 1980 to work for Ernst & Whinney, known today as Ernst & Young. He later returned to France, but then came back to the United States to settle in New York City.
In 1996, he launched his own company, SMJ Interface Corp. with a new type of service -chief financial officer on time share- a concept he designed and developed. His services depended on the needs and sizes of his clients. In 1987, the Banque Rivaud bought shares of the SMJ Interface Corp. capital and Massat Rivaud Management was born.
Today, as the part-time chief financial officer of many American subsidiaries of French companies, MRM offers a wide range of tailored services, from managing or advising a local subsidiary in administrative, accounting and tax matters, to consultation in strategy and development.
Massat, a developer of several management concepts, also created a service called “Baby-sitting” for which he still owns the trademark. Through the Baby-sitting service, MRM provides an address and a telephone number to small French firms, thus offering a presence in the United States. In addition, the Baby-sitting service provides administrative and accounting support.
One could argue that the French saying, Le client est roi (the client is king) serves as Massat’s motto. Indeed, his philosophy is to help and assist the client first. “Making money is not a priority, but it comes with the service,” he admits.
Always in quest of new ventures, this financial forerunner saw great opportunities when discussions about free trade with Mexico and Canada emerged in the early 1990s. In December 1993, several liberal laws regarding foreign investments in Mexico were passed by the Mexican Congress. Massat was the first foreign Certified Public Accountant in Mexico City. Being the only foreign CPA in Mexico City helped to draw in about 15 to 20 clients. Today, MRM employs four people in its Mexico City’s office.
Ten years ago, Massat was ahead of the game and he continues to occupy that position. Constantly thinking of new concepts, Massat, unlike many business people, talks freely about his own ideas and hopes to get feedback from his listeners. As he pointed out, by the time he talks about his thoughts, he has completed primary research, leaving competitors once again at the back of the pack.
The MRM group, which counts Robert Clergerie, the French shoe designer among its 110 clients in New York, outgrew its space in the last few years. At the end of June, MRM moved to a new location at 488 Madison Avenue (212) 935-9494, where 16 people, mostly French, work. MRM also has an office in Boston that employs 2 people. Massat frequently travels to all the offices.
Massat likes to employ graduates from French Ecoles de Commerce and train them. “It is great to pass the knowledge of so many years of work on to others,” he said. His theory is to put the young trainees in charge, and then to review their work together once a month.
Massat, who has been in the United States for the last 14 years has added many responsibilities to his main job. A soft-spoken man from Toulouse, he is also an advisor to the division of tests and examinations at the United Nations, a foreign trade advisor to the French government, the treasurer and director of the French-American chamber of commerce in the United States, member of the foreign trade committee of the Euro-American chamber of commerce in the United States, member of the French-Mexican chamber of commerce in Mexico, and a member of the Paris American Club.
He is also a founding member and former president of the Club 600, an entity created for French business people in New York.