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AGN Regional Pacific Meeting 2022
AGN International is a leading worldwide association of independent accounting firms that focus on tax, audit, and advisory. Comprising around 1.3 billion revenues, 14,000 people, and 500 offices in 80 countries, Gilligan Sheppard is the only firm in New Zealand to play an active role in the association, and our tax expert Richard Ashby is a board member of the Asia Pacific region. So, in May this year, Richard and I traveled to Singapore for the AGN Asia Pacific regional meeting.
This was the first physical international meeting we have attended post-Covid, and Singapore is a true pioneer in putting Covid aside and moving forward. In fact, the only additional document required is an international vaccine pass that can be easily obtained online. A couple of things worth mentioning about Singapore…
- The tax rate is super low! With corporate at 17% and an individual rate between 0 – 24%.
- Their clever public housing system has accommodated 5.6 million people across the land of 709 km2. The Housing and Development Board built standard apartment projects for residents to apply for and then allocated applicants prorate to the ethnic population. Thus, to mix cultures.
- Every taxpayer can choose their own financial year, which means there is no such thing as a standard financial year. Unsurprisingly, the calendar year is the most preferable choice.
The meeting joined delegates from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Nepal, Dubai, Pakistan, Japan, Hong Kong, Spain, Czechoslovakia, and the United Kingdom. The two full days were packed with quality content, so I thought I’d share some of my highlights.
Many firms shared their valuable experience and stories of how the global pandemic had impacted their business, from challenges to opportunities. They shared resources/collaboration opportunities, and talked about culture fit, absorption in Mergers and Acquisitions, and general best-practice tips.
There were experts that came to offer their insights on topics such as mental health, and global economic updates, and even talked about conversation techniques.
Developing and emerging AGN itself
International Accounting networks and associations are very dynamic and active. They are constantly forming, merging, disbanding, and disappearing, and if AGN grasps the major opportunity that they are facing, it will really bring the association up to new heights.
AGN is prepared to assist member firms in the NextGen program. Succession is a huge matter to professional firms, and the growth of the NextGen program is an important component to strengthen strategy.
Between the busy schedules, Richard and I met with several connections, fellow professionals, and clients, where I found some interesting findings…
- One ‘reasonable’ sized accounting firm in Singapore can have five to six legal identities behind the brand.
- With the focus shifting from China, M&A activities in Southeast Asia are now very active and major M&A firms are setting up offices in Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
- Outsourcing to traditional jurisdictions such as the Philippines and India is getting more competitive, so forward-thinking people are now looking at less developed regions such as Pakistan and Nepal.
After summoning the energy to embark on this business trip, I am so happy. Considering the disruption of travel over the past two years, it emphasised to me again the importance of physical interactions and connection with people.
History repeats itself, but human nature does not change, collaboration moves us to higher ground more than ever.