Tax & Accounting Blog

SYNERGY UK 2017: Coping with volatility and uncertainty

Blog, Business Practices, SYNERGY October 24, 2017

Laurence Kiddle, Managing Director of Thomson Reuters’ Tax and Accounting team in Europe, kicked off today’s event and pointed out that nearly 100 different organisations had chosen to attend, with close to 200 people having registered.

2017 marks first-ever SYNERGY awards

This year also marked our first-ever SYNERGY awards and the inaugural ‘European Taxologist Award’, which gives much deserved recognition to tax departments and individuals driving significant value together with ONESOURCE. Keep your eyes peeled for a separate blog on this, revealing our winner!

External forces driving internal changes

Kiddle’s keynote session this morning focused on the many external forces that are driving change in tax functions.

“Last year, I spoke of the ‘new normal’ of tax departments,” he said, pointing out that life with volatility and uncertainty is ‘definitely still normal’ and perhaps nothing new now.

The context we find ourselves in can be characterised by the transformational impact of technology evolution; a rapid pace of change in tax law; changing perceptions of tax; and changing working practices, he said.

Increased regulations require a function to operate more efficiently, too; while scrutiny from the tax authorities demands robust supporting data. The tax authorities are certainly not standing still, we were told.

Technology as a driver and an enabler

This requires us all to work in a slightly different way, of course.

Technology is both driving and enabling a lot of this change, along with the increase in data processing power and widespread moves towards cloud-based solutions.

As such, one of today’s sessions was dedicated to looking at how cloud technology is transforming tax. It revealed some fascinating insights from Amazon Web Services, which is using the cloud and ONESOURCE to enhance operational efficiency and increase data security.

Managing uncertainties and changing regulation

The day wouldn’t have been complete without a session on GDPR. Hosted by Deloitte and Thomson Reuters, this thought-provoking discussion helped the audience to grasp what they need to do before new legislation comes into effect in May 2018.

With such a lot of time now devoted to scenario planning and managing uncertainty, Kiddle also led a panel discussion comprising business leaders who discussed what steps are already being taken in European boardrooms, given that we do not yet know what flavour of ‘Brexit’ we will be getting.

Getting a handle on a fast-moving landscape

There was a wide variety of compelling content this year, helping delegates to get a handle on the fast-moving landscape, and outlining where ONESOURCE products can help: BDO’s Richard Wiseman spoke about The Importance of Compliance Risk Management; KPMG UK’s Emmie Nygard discussed the evolution of tax reporting in this digital world; and PwC looked at how tax functions can build competence in data analytics; while Veritas’ Senior Manager of Transfer Pricing, Michael Chelpinski, spoke about his experience with building efficiency into the TP process. We’ll be posting a separate blog on this thought-provoking session, so keep your eyes peeled.

What’s more, EY’s Clare Franklin and Thomson Reuters’ Thembani Mtetwa considered the increasing compliance burden of BEPS Action 13 – given that the first filing date for country by country reporting is fast approaching. The compliance is a lot more significant than it may initially appear, they warned, in a session designed to help attendees find out how to comply in the most efficient way.

Amidst all this, Thomson Reuters’ Rob Green also provided some handy tips on how to plan a much-needed ‘Tax Technology Roadmap’. It’s all in the preparation, of course.

And of course there was an inevitable look at ‘Making Tax Digital’, a useful assessment fo where are we are at now with regards HMRC’s ambitious target to become the most ‘digitally advanced tax administration in the world’ by 2020.

This week’s event wasn’t all about best practice though. There was plenty of time to network, too – given that it’s ultimately people driving all these changes, and innovating towards the solutions. We look forward to seeing you next year.

And… webinars coming up

For now, there is more to follow with a number of webinars planned over the coming months … Watch this space!