Tue | 19.09.2017
Meet Manuela Furdui, Managing Partner & Founder of FiNEXPERT, the first Romanian company offering full accounting, tax, audit, payroll and business consulting services.
1. Dear Manuela, please introduce yourself shortly to our members.
First of all, I am a mother and wife. I have two wonderful children who fill my life with joy every day. I am also the founder of FiNEXPERT, the first Romanian company offering full accounting, tax, audit, payroll and business consulting services.
I really enjoy traveling, finding new places and people. In my over 25 years of career I have formed a lot of people, who have evolved into experts, whilst few of them are currently partners in FiNEXPERT’s board.
Since I founded FiNEXPERT, I feel that my whole life has taken another direction. I do what I always loved: I work with people and numbers. I am happy to say that, after 14 years since I founded the company, I can count on a team of more than 100 people with whom we offer consultancy to more than 500 customers.
2. FiNEXPERT also provides audit services. Worldwide, innovation, digital transformation and explosion of data are impacting the audit. Do you think this trend also happening in Romania?
Few years ago, the audits could be performed only by teams of accountants manually checking of financial information. But given the explosion of data in today’s digital world, it’s critical that the audit profession develops its traditional processes and embraces advanced technology tools. By doing so, it can uncover insights that allow the audit to continue to be relevant and effective in helping investors make important financial decisions. Auditors can provide detailed, high-quality audits. And company executives and audit committees can get deeper insight into their organization like never before. This new technology isn’t just changing financial reporting and auditing; it’s revolutionizing it.
3. (Aggressive) Tax Planning in the post-BEPS is the topic to be tackled by your team during the NRCC Knowledge Center ”Tax & HR Planning”, organized on October 16, in Bucharest. Why the brackets for aggressive?
Indeed, we have chosen to lecture on this topic due to the current focus on boosting tax transparency and addressing base erosion and profit shifting at worldwide level. Romania has adhered in 2016 as associate member to the BEPS plan undertaking to implement the measures and principles advocated by the final BEPS reports. Afterwards, on June 7th 2017, Romania has signed the Multilateral Convention from Paris, creating thus the premises for the amendment of the currently in force double tax treaties. These important events have basically created the framework for Romania to align to the current worldwide trend.
As business has generally become globally integrated, the appetite and sophistication of taxpayers in identifying opportunities have also seen an upward trend. Unfortunately, aiming to minimize the tax burden, there is evidence that, sometimes, taxpayers show confidence in pursuing aggressive tax strategies. Given this context, the international focus is to track and minimize harmful behaviours of taxpayers. For example, Action 4 of the BEPS package aims to “change” the rules for one of the simplest of the profit-shifting techniques available in international tax planning: interest expenses. Also, Action 12 urges countries to require taxpayers to disclose aggressive tax planning strategies. And these are few examples; the focus is definitely on fostering transparency and fighting base erosion.
Given this background, we considered appropriate to tackle this topic. Bottom-line, to justify the brackets, although tax planning is not forbidden, tax authorities will be more and more focused on aggressive tax planning strategies which might become harmful. Our presentation is intended to be a red flag and to boost awareness among participants related to tax planning strategies.
4. The decision of Romanian authorities to introduce the split VAT system is a very hot issue these days. What is your opinion on that?
We agree, very hot topic, there is much rumour in the aftermath of the Ordinance's publication, which, ironically or not, was passed with quite some rush during the last hot days of summer.
The measure was presented as necessary and beneficial in terms of reducing tax fraud and narrowing the VAT gap but also for honest taxpayers - due to an estimated drop in unfair competition from the "black market". However, during official discussions held before the publication, the general consensus of the business environment was against the said measure.
This is mainly because, in a first instance, the VAT split payment as presented at the moment, will highly increase the administrative burden on honest taxpayers (including significant costs of updating the financial and accounting software) and will most probably create cash flow issues due to amounts blocked in the VAT accounts.
Only in a secondary instance, maybe the measure will reduce some of the VAT fraud. We say maybe because no impact analysis was performed at the level of the Romanian business field before the implementation of the measure. Currently, it is not clear how or to what extent setting up the VAT split payment will impede the said "black economy" from carrying on business as usual.
Of course, the VAT split mechanism was already implemented by other EU Member States, such as Italy. However, their system is much different from the one to be implemented in Romania and not as extensive (it is applicable to supplies toward the State and has only recently been extended to public agencies and listed companies).
Another example would be Poland, which will apply the VAT split mechanism optionally (not mandatory as will be Romania's case next year) as of 1 January 2018 and only after a period of previous research and preparation of two years.
Without such preparation, Romania's VAT split system will most likely end up as in the case of Bulgaria, where the measure was dropped due to the cash blockages and negative impact on the small and medium companies.
Given the current economic and political status, we and most of the business environment are pushing at least for a prolonged optional application period and/or a limited area of application (perhaps certain activity fields which are notoriously prone to fraud) if not a full stop.
5. What would be your top 3 recommendations for preserving the financial health of a company?
Despite my professional background I will not mention any financial ratios. In my personal opinion for having a healthy company is necessary to have a clear defined mission and strategy, committed management team and good professionals working to provide quality services.
6. A recent international study revealed that Romanian SMEs trading internationally are more confident and more likely to increase jobs. How do you appreciate the evolution of this sector in Romania during the last year? What about the future?
The study, shows that 50 percent of Romanian SMEs that trade internationally are positive about their current business state, compared to 43 percent of non-traders.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in the world economy and contribute substantially to income, output and employment. However, international trade is a challenge to SMEs, and today only a minority of SMEs trade internationally (25%).
In the future, professional service firms, as FiNEXPERT, may also need to challenge themselves to look more critically at the services they provide to SMEs seeking to internationalise. Developing more internal understanding and expertise, strengthening relationships, and building international networks of trusted professional and business contacts could be good starting points for action.
7. There are many women working at FiNEXPERT better said, they represent a majority in the team. Is that on purpose or was just a matter of chemistry during the interviews?
Indeed, more than 80% of our team are women. It was not our goal to have a female majority in the team. In Romania, compared to Western countries, the jobs in audit or accounting are preferred by women.
8. And in the end, please a thought for the NRCC members.
We hope to see them at our Knowledge Center and at NRCC’s future events. NRCC has created a great business circle amongst its members and we are happy to be part of this environment. If you already work with us, thank you. If you do not know us yet, let`s get acquainted.