A FRESH APPROACH TO TAX AND ACCOUNTING IN SPAIN
The senior partners of Advoco - UK Chartered Management Accountant Deborah Smith and Granada-based Spanish contable Manuel GarcĂa Pedregosa - share a common ambition: to provide English-speaking clients with a service sufficiently attentive and efficient that they forget about the bad reputation Spain has for its fiscal system.
When you mention Spanish tax to a foreigner forced to deal with the system here in Spain, the initial reaction usually ranges from weary resignation to bemusement. Â It is not so much that the regime is unduly harsh or tax rates particularly punitive, because other European countries are often stricter and more expensive. The root of the frustration lies in the mystifying complexity of the rules, the conflicting messages received and the impenetrability of the many-layered bureaucracy.
Traditionally Spanish advisers have not been helpful in guiding the foreign community through the maze. When Advoco was first devised we asked people what they didn't like about their existing accountants and the answers were usually along the following lines:
- Communication - Not being able to explain their problems to the professional who was supposed to be helping them or not having things explained to them.
- Responsiveness - Long delays between requesting a service and seeing the results. Not answering calls or emails. Missing deadlines.
- Charges - Too high for routine matters and not agreed or even disclosed upfront for more complex matters.
The Advoco approach
In devising an approach to counteract some of these criticisms, we decided on a three part strategy:
Having jointly dealt with a large number of clients locally over the years, we realised that it is a combination of English service and communication and Spanish expertise that clients appreciate, so this is what we aim to provide. Every client receives service in English throughout. The website contains a large amount of self-help information in English. A British accountant will always provide the frontline service to the client, so there will never be communication breakdowns and both client and adviser will know exactly where they stand. However, behind this there is a large amount of native Spanish expertise.
Advoco is a trading name of Spanish company Olivar Solutions S.L., and provides the online, English-speaking side of the business. We work in partnership withÂ Gecasa S.L., a major Spanish legal and accounting firm with a team of Spanish qualified professionals and a large Spanish client base. A foreign client will thus deal with an English-speaker but will also have access to decades of local experience and an unrivalled network of contacts.
The answer to the responsiveness criticism was to bring Spanish tax and accounting into the 21st century by offering practically every service online. Â GECASA is based in Granada and this is where all client records are kept and processing carried out, but the interaction with clients is carried out almost exclusively online, so clients can be based almost anywhere. Â Besides allowing Advoco to offer personal and business tax services all over Spain (and beyond since we advise individuals from abroad thinking of relocating or with other interests in Spain), it means that the client can receive advice and keep up to date with their tax obligations without leaving their home. Our commitment to reply to emails within a day where possible means that undue delay or frustrating periods of inaction are far less likely to occur.
Open Pricing policy
In our experience, professional fees generate an unecessary level of anxiety among clients. The problem is not so much fees being too high (though they often are), it is more the not knowing in advance how much it is all going to cost. Our â€śno surprisesâ€ť pricing is designed to take the stress out of fees:
Services are charged on a fixed fee basis where possible.
We provide a fee estimate, breaking down likely costs and charges.
Additional costs are not incurred without first seeking client approval.