Working across borders
Who are you and what led you to join INPACT?
"I’m Massimo Tognola, partner at Fidam Servizi SA. We are a small accountants company based in Switzerland. We do tax, consultancy accountancy, audit, compliance, the classic jobs of an accounting firm.
"When I started in the late 80s the financial marketplace here was very international. Banks were international, accountancy firms were international, and I felt that I needed to be part of a network that gave us international access too. As a small firm, I thought that a global network could help us provide better services to our clients. And this is exactly what INPACT gave to us when we joined in 1996. Member support and advice in different countries that enables us to work across borders to support our clients."
What’s the hardest thing about not having that international network?
"Well, you know, as a small firm, if you don't have that support, if a client comes to you and says, 'Well, I would like to set up a company somewhere abroad, but I have a tax problem with this country I'm looking at.' How can you solve their problem? You have to say, 'Oh sorry, no idea.' And this is no good.
"However, even if you are a small company as we are but are part of INPACT, and they come to you with such a question, you’re in a much stronger position. You can say, 'Oh, okay, I do not know. I don't have the skills, but I understand your problem. Let me see if I can get some support from our network.' And then I can call a member firm, explain the problem, get the confirmation that they can carry out the job and and you know, your client is happy, they say: 'Wow a small company – but big results'. And at the end of the day, they will talk to other people and say, 'Hey, you know the firm Fidam? I had a problem. They solved it.' Maybe you get a new client."
Building trust with clients
Can you tell us about a time your client had a problem and how INPACT helped you overcome it?
"We once had a tax case with a private client. I'm filling out their tax forms, you know, and it comes out that in the past he was receiving dividends from an Austrian company, and he paid his taxes in Austria. And he never got it back, even if the double treaty allowed him to get some taxes back, because he was paying taxes in Switzerland. And so he asked me 'Is there a chance to get back some money for the past years and in the future?' So I started to look around, you know, and I understand there is the possibility to do it but the bureaucracy for us in Austria was incredible. This is not our area, so we recognised “Okay, I need some help”. And I contacted INPACT member firm in Austria, cSt Causa, Michael Waba and Claudia Stadler, and I explained the case. They asked me for some papers. I sent the papers to them and they did the job for us. The client was very happy – he got his money back. It sounds simple but you need this kind of know-how, the knowledge of all the bureaucracy and procedures, it makes a huge difference when it comes to client delivery. Many thanks to cSt Causa for this success story – now this client knows we can be trusted and because of that they will probably stay with us for many years."
"INPACT is ideal if you want international knowledge and know-how, without the need to study hundreds of legislations, without hiring personnel specialized in international business."
"In another case, we had a client who needed to set up an international group. He wanted to establish a holding company in Cyprus, to go alongside holding companies in Switzerland and Italy. So we spoke to INPACT member firm in Cyprus, and working with them we could establish the structure of companies needed. And again, the client was very happy as a result.
"And again, this success boosts your own reputation so that clients can now tell others about the success they had with you. Particularly in this case, setting up an international group, you gain relationships and a reputation with lawyers in London, Italy, Cyprus – now they know who you are and it’s a possible connection for the future."
What effect does it have on your firm when you can get that support through INPACT?
"You guarantee the fidelity of your clients. Of course you get their appreciation when you perform well but even more, you can keep them as clients. If they are happy, if they know that they can count on your firm, when they have a question, when they have a problem to solve, they will stay with you and ask you."
What advice would you give to someone who's thinking about joining INPACT?
"INPACT is ideal if you want international knowledge and know-how, without the need to study hundreds of legislations, without hiring personnel specialized in international business. Member firms in other countries can do things you can’t. You can keep a smaller, regional focus for your firm whilst providing high-quality international services to your clients when they need them."
What are the key benefits of being part of INPACT?
"The internationalization of your business, the fidelity of your clients, and indirect marketing. People will talk about the support you had through the INPACT network and your reputation will grow."