Hi Antony, tell us a bit about your firm.
Our firm is Rayner Essex LLP. We're a firm of chartered accountants in the UK, with offices in London and Saint Albans.
I am one of the equity partners in Rayner Essex and we joined in 1999, so we’ve been members of INPACT for 24 years, a long time! The first conference I went to was in December 2000 when I first became a partner.
We're an independent mid-sized firm of accountants. Our clients range from small owner managed businesses to large international groups and companies and they cover just about every different sector that you can think of. So it's a very broad-ranged client base that we have, we provide them with audit tax, payroll, advisory services – a complete range of services.
Accounting challenges in the live music industry
Can you tell us about a time INPACT helped your client overcome a problem they were facing?
One of my best advocates for INPACT is one of my clients. For many years they have used different INPACT members to overcome challenges in various countries. This client runs promotions in the entertainment industry, based in London. They act for all of the large performing artists and they do all of their VIP ticket sales. So when groups go on tour, and this will be everyone from Take That, Guns N’ Roses, The Rolling Stones etc, all of the large groups – when they go on tour.
They will deal with the VIP ticket sales and people will buy the packages for those artists in different countries. Traditionally they used to all be performing in the UK and my client only ever dealt with their performances in the UK. Then what happened was all of the labels that these artists are attached to said “You’re doing such a great job managing their events in the UK. We would also like you to deal with the ticket sales for the overseas tours that these people go on.”
And what you find now is that you'll get artists like Robbie Williams and he'll do a European tour where as well as the UK he’ll go to the German cities and all of the European cities as well. My client will sell packages to people in the UK who want to travel abroad and go and see him perform in these cities. So on the face of it, there's nothing wrong with that. You just think it's a normal transaction. But when you look at the value of those sales, because those artists are so popular, what it creates is a necessity quite often for that client to actually register for VAT in a number of different jurisdictions. So frequently in Amsterdam, a lot of people from the UK will buy tickets to go and see international groups and bands in Amsterdam because they want to enjoy the city and see the artists over there. But that will take the client over the VAT registration threshold in that country. Especially as they've got several different artists performing in a year.
So it's great because I can just put them in touch with the INPACT member in that country. They can deal with the VAT registration, help them with record keeping submission of VAT returns and the payment and reclaim in VAT so they can reclaim all of the VAT on their costs.
That client who I'm actually working on at the moment, in the past year has used INPACT members in the Netherlands, Germany, a number of different countries and as you know artists go to different countries now and perhaps playing places they wouldn't have played in before. There's always the need potentially for them to keep using INPACT members to do work. So it's a really nice example of putting people in touch and creating connections. When my client rings me up saying “I've got to register somebody in a different city”, I know I've got a firm in there that will deal with that and react positively to things.
So that's a small example of how we use INPACT to solve problems. But on a number of occasions it's just nice to be able to put our clients in touch with people quite often. It may be a payroll related matter, or a VAT matter that they need some assistance with, aside from the larger, recurring audit work. We're also on the receiving end of that so we quite often will have members that will have issues in the UK that we can assist with and help with at the same time. We act for a number of clients where INPACT members referred the work to us and vice versa.
“When my client rings me up saying ‘I've got to register somebody in a different city’, I know I've got a firm in there that will deal with that and react positively.”
What’s your experience of the INPACT meetings and conferences?
We’ve always been engaged with the conferences and getting to know people, which I believe is probably the best way of extracting the value out of the organization. A lot of the people that I see and deal with through INPACT are people that I know personally, have known them for a number of years, I take the time to get to know them. Only a couple of weeks ago, I was in India with Daniel and the team out there and I was meeting new people from the Asia Pacific countries that I hadn't met before. It opens up new windows of opportunity.
You'll get out of INPACT what you put into it. If you're a name on a piece of paper, and don't really sort of take the time to mix with people, attend conferences, then you're not necessarily going to have those relationships or those relationships that create the value, in my opinion. The conferences are great, you learn a lot, you have very enthusiastic speakers, but the real important thing is the networking and the social side: the coffee breaks, the lunches and sitting and chatting to people and building relationships with them. It’s all about the relationships.
You mentioned the conference in Bangalore. Could you tell us more about that?
So Bangalore was certainly a very vibrant city, lots going on very busy and we had a nice group of attendees who were really engaged. We had a number of social events that everyone went along to, fantastic food, all got to know each other well. Very good content at the conference. We were looked after as we would have expected to have been by Arun, who's the member in Bangalore and has always been a very active prominent member of INPACT himself. He really did a great job of looking after us and some really good content in the conference on a variety of subjects.
“I’ve encouraged a number of our staff to attend the INPACT Academy. It’s really encouraging for our younger staff to meet with other people and like-minded people in other firms.”
Building client confidence with global expertise
What role does the INPACT training such as Marketplace and Academy have for your firm?
The INPACT Marketplace sessions have been good, I've attended a number of them. Look I mean if there's an opportunity there that you think there's some synergy with one of your clients, that's a great way of introducing people. And certainly one of the things I've encouraged a number of our staff here to do is to regularly attend the INPACT Academy.
It’s really encouraging for the younger staff in particular, maybe the next tier down in the firm, to meet with other people and like-minded people in other firms. So I think that's a really good initiative and hopefully the next stage will be taking those people in our team to conferences and getting them to introduce people and meet people in person as well.
And then you've got the succession, and Daniel will know that one of my former partners, Steve, who retired a couple of years ago was very much involved with INPACT and over the years I gradually took over the reins from Steve and that was a successful transition really and we've seen that with a number of other members within INPACT. There's been a succession in transition and you have to address that. Otherwise you'll lose the contact there.
What’s the main benefit of being an INPACT member for your firm?
The main benefit is going to be having the global expertise, for accounting, auditing and tax, in pretty much every country in the world. Without that it would be very difficult for us and – going back to my example of my client who needed assistance in a number of different countries – the question would then come, are we the right firm for them? So the possibility is you then lose your clients because they are not confident that you're able to advise them with their overseas activities and needs and of course in the world as it is now, it’s a small place and there's very few businesses that I deal with that don't have an international aspect to them and that's replicated for all of the members.
Moshe, our Israeli member, introduced me to a client. I had them sitting in this room yesterday. They came over from Israel on Sunday evening. We had a meeting with our tax team and went through a load of tax planning with them and everything. So, for the Israeli company that was obviously good having that capability, using ourselves to advise them here, so it is really giving us that extension to our services that is fundamental for a firm of our size.