The EMEA and Asia Pacific Expatriate tax groups have been meeting via teleconference over the past few months.
The groups discuss ways in which BKR specialists can work together to service clients in regards to expatriate tax work.
Examples have already been provided where, for instance, a large British company was sending expats to Australia and was looking for an alternative to the Big 4 due to not being happy with their current service, nor their cost. This client is now working with BKR firms who have benefitted from being able to jointly offer services since arguably the client would not have been won had it not been for having the BKR connections. This client is now progressing into Asia, Ireland and other countries in Europe and so potentially will create further work for BKR firms.
London are also working closely with Dublin. Irish personal tax return work has now led to proposals for the Irish audit work, corporate tax work and work on a research & development claim, providing an excellent example of how joint marketing by BKR firms can result in more and more services being required by the client. The Practice group is encouraging all BKR firms to look to countries which create good combinations.
Work from the United States is also attracting additional services required in EMEA and the Asia Pacific. Starting with UK expats coming from the US, the group heard of a recent example of an SEC listed client who was looking to replace a Big 4 firm for expat services in the UK, US and Hong Kong. This is yet another example of how BKR, by working together, can pitch for jobs currently being performed by a Big 4 firm, and provide an alternative, arguably with a more personal service, and at a lower cost than that charged by the Big 4 firm. It is great for a member firm to be able to say to their client that they CAN service that client in multiple jurisdictions around the globe.
The group has also been discussing how successful the “Doing business” presentations have been, involving a number of BKR firms presenting together in front of a local firm’s clients, associates and local businesses with international operations. Such “Roadshows” have been performed in Barcelona last year at the EMEA regional conference and in Sydney in 2010 at the Asia Pacific conference. These have proved to be an excellent way of promoting the hosting firm, the visiting and presenting firms, and the BKR association. BKR will look to continue to hold such events.
The group are currently exchanging “Client lists”; these may be companies with whom a member has a relationship and is known to be operating internationally, or companies who are not currently clients, but where the member has a connection/contact and would like to pursue them since they have international operations (ie: “target clients”) and, by working with another BKR member firm, would be better equipped to offer their services.
After the initial telecalls, the groups intend to meet in person at their respective regional meetings.
It has been suggested that future calls be divided between “Strategic/marketing” discussions and “Technical update” sessions.
VAT / Sales Tax
The EMEA “VAT/Sales Tax” group has also recently been initiated. Rob Zevenbergen (The Hague), Petra Owen (Hamburg) and Alan Pearce (London) have started discussions.
The group intend to create a matrix of VAT issues, which would then be completed in respect of the various countries. Such a matrix would be an ongoing ‘Working document”, initially created with separate tabs for different topics, being updated and enhanced with new topics regularly. This would be kept fairly simple and limited to basic facts, providing the ‘general rules’. Members would then be encouraged, for more advanced or specific advice, to refer to a VAT specialist in a BKR member firm at the location for where the advice is sought.
A page on the EMEA website is to be produced for “VAT/Sales Tax” (the VAT matrix will be kept inside the Members Area, but there would be a public page maintained for recent articles and VAT alerts, as written and provided by members of the group). We hope this will help improve visibility for BKR International and, in turn, for member firms.
It was also discussed that there should be more interaction between VAT specialists within BKR, and potentially the region is looking into establishing a “VAT” breakout session as part of the Tax technical meeting held in November.