There’s no Good tax Advice Without Industry Knowledge

Interview

Bence Barta

According to an assessment by the International Tax Review magazine, Andersen Adótanácsadó Zrt. was again the best-performing Hungarian tax advisor this year. Besides the highest professional accolade, the firm has also collected the “Hungary Indirect Tax of the Year 2022” title. We spoke with Bence Barta, the head of Andersen’s indirect tax business, about the awards.

BBJ: To what extent were these awards a surprise? What factors paved the way to you winning the VAT Advisor of the Year title in Hungary?

Bence Barta: In light of our results and the feedback from our clients, we secretly hoped that the ITR would acknowledge our work again this year, but we couldn’t be sure since competition is fierce in the advisory market.

We’ve consciously emphasized this area in recent years and have significantly expanded our team of experts and our range of services. Besides this, we continually monitor the legal practice of the European Court of Justice and Hungarian courts so that we can provide our clients with best-in-class services.

It’s a critical success factor that Andersen’s international network has solid competencies in indirect taxation, which helps us tremendously. It is not by accident that ITR has ranked the overall performance of Andersen’s offices in the top five for this category at the European level.

BBJ: Apart from these, what other qualities characterize the firm’s indirect tax advisory services?

BB: I’d highlight client focus and maximum satisfaction of client needs because, in this respect, we probably make even greater efforts than our competitors. It’s manifested in how, first and foremost, we develop practical solutions for our clients and support them during their implementation. We represent a new approach and, in many cases, implement creative and novel ideas, for which a thorough understanding of case law is indispensable. Additionally, we also spearhead the preparation of clients for legislative changes.

BBJ: How much do you need to know about your client or the industry to complete an assignment?

BB: In the past, it was enough to know the tax laws well; today, clients need much more complex advice, so we don’t just need to understand them thoroughly but also the economic environment in which they operate. You can’t give relevant tax advice without up-to-date and in-depth industry knowledge.

Let’s take, for example, the energy sector, from which we receive a lot of assignments. It is a very strictly regulated market that has its particular operational logic. Without being familiar with it, it’s simply impossible to solve our clients’ problems; we can’t expect them to teach us everything we need to know prior to fulfilling the engagement.

BBJ: What indicators describe the work of Andersen’s indirect tax business?

BB: The most important indicator is perhaps the rise in revenues. In both 2020 and 2021, we doubled our revenues from our business compared to the previous years. By the end of August this year, we’d surpassed last year’s level by 60%. We’ve also expanded our team of experts significantly over three years to maintain this growth rate, essentially doubling its size.

The quality of our work is also evident from the increasing complexity and volume of the tasks we receive. We receive plenty of positive feedback and more engagements based on the recommendations of our existing clients. Our strongest references are in the energy, automotive, pharmaceutical, logistics and finance sectors.

BBJ: How long can this growth rate be maintained?

BB: Naturally, it depends greatly on the economic environment and the performance of the Hungarian economy. It is encouraging that we’ve managed to multiply our profits in recent years, despite the negative effects of the pandemic. Another reason I consider the prospects of Andersen’s indirect tax business to be good is that we have an extensive and diversified client portfolio.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of October 21, 2022.

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