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Tools for collaboration

collaboration
New innovations for joined-up working across Praxity

By Ian Lavis on behalf of Praxity Global Alliance

Audit and tax groups within Praxity are making great strides forward to facilitate cross-firm, cross-border working.

Tools are being developed and rolled out across the Alliance to help member firms connect, share knowledge and collaborate.

The objective is to harness technology and expertise to provide seamless, multi-firm solutions for clients with international operations.

The latest collaboration tools were presented by members of Praxity Assurance Committee (PAC) and Praxity Tax Group at Praxity’s Global Conference on 19 October. Tax Partners also provided insight into how collaboration adds real value.

New technology

Jason Drake, Chair of PAC and Partner and International Practice Leader at Plante Moran, told online conference delegates the recently introduced software collaboration tool Huddle was “playing a big part” in facilitating closer working relationships within the Alliance.

The new software – available to all Praxity member firms – provides a tool for cross-firm teams to collaborate more effectively and help clients overcome complex cross-border business challenges.

Key benefits of Huddle include:

  • User-friendly dashboard
  • Streamlined processes
  • Pending tasks and approvals features
  • Accessible on multiple devices
  • Client access

Jason outlined plans to encourage greater use of Huddle across the Alliance based on feedback from user groups. The objective, he said, was to provide more information for firms on how to access the software, do demos and set up workspaces to maximise the benefits of using Huddle to drive collaboration.

Training and thought leadership

There are also plans to help member firms share knowledge through training opportunities and a new Praxity thought leadership database, divided by region.

Bindi Palmer, Head of Audit and Assurance at Rouse Partners, and Steffen Ahrens, Vice-Chairman of PAC and Partner at FALK, said the new initiatives were designed to help professionals within Praxity member firms develop skills, gain insight and grow strong relationships globally. Ultimately, this will benefit clients doing cross-border business.

The PAC committee also unveiled plans for further enhancements including:

  • An IT expertise database to provide fast access to specialists in cybersecurity and other IT areas
  • Sharing best practice in billing/quoting and online business
  • A directory of ‘go to’ people for audit, tax and consultancy needs.

Sharing knowledge

Innovations to help member firms share knowledge and provide better client service was also a key theme of the Global Tax and Fiscal Group update provided by Group Chairman Steve Amigone, DHG’s Global Client Services Leader, and David Sayers, Partner and International Tax specialist at Mazars UK.

David said the Praxity Covid-19 guide launched during the pandemic has been “absolutely invaluable” to member firms. The detailed guide, updated weekly, contains the latest government support and tax changes in G20 countries so that firms can stay on top of Covid-related changes around the world.

Understanding regulations

As well as guiding clients through the crisis, Praxity member firms are sharing knowledge on new regulations impacting international business operations.

For those firms whose clients operate in Europe, the focus is on preparing for the EU mandatory disclosure regime DAC6 Directive 2018/82. The directive imposes mandatory disclosure of cross-border arrangements that present certain features indicative of potential aggressive tax planning.

David reminded delegates that firms need to make notifications to the relevant tax authority for the countries they operate in by the end of February 2021 or risk facing stiff penalties.

Notifying the necessary tax authorities and speaking to senior people was onerous, he said, but advisable to be fully informed and to avoid penalties. He added that enforcement is becoming more stringent across the globe and companies “need to have their affairs in order”.

Steve warned delegates of another potential “seismic shift” in the tax regulatory landscape should there be a change in administration in the US following the presidential election on November 3.

Victory for Democrat Joe Biden could mean an increase in corporate income tax from 21% to 28% and significant changes to taxes on domestic and foreign income, as well as changes to individual taxes.

Better for firms, better for clients

So, how does knowledge sharing and close collaboration among Praxity member firms work in practice and value?

One leading example is a US$20 billion logistics company that both Steve and David act for on behalf of DHG and Mazars UK – together with colleagues in member firms around the world including India, Australia, Spain and Romania – all under the Praxity umbrella.

The member firms collaborate on multiple client engagements to provide expertise in the areas they are best placed to support the client, including tax, audit, provisions, transfer pricing and R&D. Each firm leverages from the work that DHG does for the client in the US, and every professional works hard to ensure delivery is as smooth as possible.

“I think it’s really good example of how we can work together across multiple touch points to show how we are joined up,” David says. “It shows we can run these multi-country assignments and we can run them well.”

The success of the collaboration is down to good relationships between Steve, David, fellow accounting professionals and the client. “It’s the personal relationships that count and these relationships are quite evident,” Steve said, adding: “It’s incredibly enjoyable.”

While the face to face aspect of relationship building has had to take a back seat during the pandemic, David stresses “there has been almost no drop-off” in the strength of the relationship. This is down to the hard work everyone has put into joined-up working and the warmth and trust that has developed between professionals within the Alliance.