Robert Mazars: a tribute to the pioneer

Throughout the more than nine decades that made up his life, Robert Mazars was on a never‑ending mission to satisfy his insatiable curiosity. However, he was much more than just a curious person with a non‑traditional professional background; he was a pioneer, a visionary, a committed man who believed in the importance of continuous innovation and who wasn’t afraid to make things happen.

30 January 1920 – 2 July 2015

A man who believed in the importance of continued innovation 

Robert Mazars

Robert Mazars was just a young graduate of HEC Business School who was set on a career in Economics, Law and Foreign Languages. But he was also a young man who loved his country, and post‑WWII France needed to be rebuilt.

There was a huge role to be played by the business community, and so Robert Mazars decided to dive – completely unexperienced and at the not‑so‑ripe age of 20 – into the unregulated field of accounting, convinced that it would make a significant contribution to the future.

He thus founded his eponymous firm on Rue de Buffon in Rouen, starting out with no more than a dozen small businesses and sole traders as clients, for whom he filled in tax declarations. Among the first of his generation, Robert Mazars quickly understood that audit is not just a seasonal side job for accountants.

He was committed to spreading the idea that audit was a profession in itself with a fundamental technical and social role. He also understood the need for a modern and demanding body of audit standards, as well as the imminent internationalisation of the audit sector.

In 1945, he travelled to the United States on a joint mission organised by the French government with the aim of re‑establishing Franco‑American trade.

Spreading the idea that audit is a profession with a social role

In 1951, he participated in another such mission where he spent six weeks visiting over thirty American companies with the purpose of bringing home ideas for French entrepreneurs. Robert Mazars was above all a free‑spirited man. In his firm – which grew over the decades, by 1985 boasting ten partners and an increasing number of major financial institutions as clients – he instilled four values that still pervade Mazars’ international integrated partnership as we know it today. The first of these values is independence: Robert Mazars was quick to have an opinion and never shied away from expressing what he believed in. The second of these core values is expertise, without which independence means nothing.

Robert Mazars believed that everything should be done with excellence, and that quality was the basis for individual worth and collective activity. The third one is sharing: the only veritable wealth in the world are the men and women that make it up, and what brings this wealth together is team spirit and collective ambition. And lastly, tolerance: mutual respect was for Robert Mazars the key element of a balanced relation; he added it to his list of core values towards the end of his professional life.

Independence, Expertise, Sharing, Tolerance

These four values are now considered to be the founding principles of our firm; only on this basis can Mazars build its future. By the end of the 1970s, the future of the challenger firm depended on a solid and loyal team. Employees were thus chosen for their expertise and solidarity, and in exchange Robert entrusted them with responsibility and ultimately partnership status.

Each partner was given an equal number of shares and nearly equal pay (Robert Mazars himself only making 10% more than the youngest partners). In 1985, at the age of 63, Robert Mazars resigned the presidency of the firm and passed the torch to Patrick de Cambourg, thirty years his junior. Although many said that he took a gamble on his ‘greatest source of pride’, his confidence was rewarded, and Mazars has kept this desire to make a significant place for itself in the market.

It is impossible to thoroughly pay homage to the memory of Robert Mazars with the words written on this page. What we can do, however, is underline the fact that his pioneering spirit, his curiosity, his boldness and his values still live on in all Mazarians today. Robert Mazars has inspired us all and will continue to inspire future generations. For this we are forever grateful.