Players in the tax advisory arena have been enjoying robust growth, but say they need to gear up to be able to adjust to ever changing customer needs.
The Hungarian Central Statistical Office estimates Hungary’s GDP to have grown by 3.9% in 2017, which dynamism has clearly left a mark on pretty much every sector of the economy. The tax consulting segment was no exception as a market survey prepared by the Budapest Business Journal found.
In the experience of VGD Hungary, the markets have been driven by searching for new paths, which manifested itself in the increasing number of M&As and startup foundations, says tax partner Andrea Kuntner.
“The trend continued in 2017 with more appetite for investment, but all that optimism may be overshadowed soon by the growing labor shortage as well as way too steep wage raises,” she adds. Changes cause clients of accounting and tax consultancy firms to continuously migrate. That presents not only more opportunities but it also requires a great deal of adjustment and efficiency in terms of human and technical resources.
Judit Jancsa-Pék, partner at Leitner&Leitner confirms that financial advisory services have greatly benefited from the economic boom. However, she believes the Hungarian tax legislation still often sees quick changes, and that makes the role of competent consultants even more critical.
“Your service needs to be tailor-made at all times, whether concerning assistance at preparation for the implementation of new rules or drawing the attention of clients to potential risks and ways to handle them,” she says.
The ever-intensive global battle against fraudulent business practices further poses a challenge for compliance. This legal environment calls for tax advisors to guide clients on how to proceed when it comes to self-disclosure obligations, she says.
OrienTax is market leader in the independent tax advisory segment, with particular expertise in the fields of sports and film. It is little surprise, therefore, that partner Károly Radnai mentions the splendid performance of the latter as having helped his firm a lot.
“Last year was the best year ever for the Hungarian film industry. We have been in charge of dealing with tax matters related to productions originated in the U.K. and the U.S., which had a very positive impact on our business. In general, 2017 was a fantastic year, not only for the film business, but also in other areas,” he tells the BBJ.
With ever more disruptive technologies available, consulting firms don’t have a choice but to keep the pace with global digital transformation. According to Radnai, though, they are in a business where human capital matters still more.
“Tax advisory, as opposed to tax compliance, is a high-added value service, and therefore it is much more difficult to rely on automation,” he notes.
VGD says it strives to ensure the most customer-friendly experience possible by using a number of IT solutions. Paperless book-keeping is the goal; invoices are received electronically, and bank details are recorded done by scanning. “Upon request, our clients can have personal access to data bases and reports concerning them,” Kuntner adds.
Another cutting-edge tool VGD makes use of is content marketing. “Our AdWords campaigns, promoting our transfer price documentation preparation service, turned out to be particularly successful in the past years,” Kuntner says as an example of the recent use of content marketing.
She says such activities help VGD boost its competitiveness, take part in different customer tenders with a higher success rate, and keep long-term clients thanks to elevated customer satisfaction.
LeitnerLeitner, in turn, relies on its own thematic blog when it comes to making use of an online presence. It has been available for several years now and the potential audience has been significantly broadened thanks to the English and German-language versions.
“By having such a forum, we can reach a lot of visitors who may not necessarily be professionals,” Jancsa-Pék explains. “This is our goal: to make company executives familiar with tax issues.”
The approach is not to get lost in highly complex technical details, but rather provide an easy-to-digest breakdown where risks and potential pitfalls are highlighted. “With this useful tool, we can assist our existing clients and reach out to new partners as well,” she says.
LeitnerLeitner keeps the use of social media in its business strategy between clearly defined limits, though. As Jancsa-Pék explains, the confidential nature of tax advisory services does not play well with the sort of online publicity embodied by internet-based community platforms. Therefore, they don’t use such channels to do any direct sales, either. Social media is therefore restricted to announcing positions on LinkedIn, or for getting the word out about corporate events in closed groups. OrienTax pretty much shares the same view.
VGD gives the impression of using social media more extensively. It aims to be active on Facebook and LinkedIn as well, Kuntner reports. “We use SM to create buzz about our professional engagements, namely whenever we attend an event or hold a speech, or an article of ours gets published,” Kuntner says. “But we also post material regarding the social life of the company, as we desire to show both our professional and our social competences to the young, among others.”