16 APRIL 2003

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Accounting for Malta’s small enterprises through an international brand

Alliott Gauci and Co Managing Partner Joseph Gauci attended the Alliott Group Annual European Regional Conference at the beginning of the month. Alliott Group is a worldwide accounting group with over 500 offices distributed all over the five continents. The Malta Financial and Business Times speaks to Mr Gauci about his participation in the conference and the benefits derived for the practice and its clients

What thinking is behind the formation of such large accounting groups as in the case of Alliott Group?
With globalisation the world has shrunk and more companies are undertaking international trade. Moreover today there is more movement in capital and investment on a world wide basis. Due to these reasons more companies are requesting the services of worldwide accounting firms.
Thus, the aim of Alliott Group is to service companies that would require accounting or other related services, especially those that undertake international trade through the Group’s worldwide network of independent firms.
How are firms chosen?
Firms are chosen on the basis of various criteria but the main determining factors are their capabilities, reputation, size and client portfolio. Normally firms, with some exceptions within Alliott Group, are medium sized firms in their respective countries.
Firms within Alliott Group, like in most international accounting groups ,are divided into three categories i.e. members, correspondents and associates. The member firms are those who have the voting right to elect the Executive Committee that manages Alliott Group. This is obviously the category that influences the direction and management of the Group as a whole. The Maltese firm is a member firm and is fully committed to enhancing the reputation of Alliott Group within Malta.
What is the scope of the annual European Regional conference, which you just returned from?
The aim of the annual regional conference is three-fold, that is to elect the Executive Committee of the Group, to give direction and to train partners in various specialised matters. In addition it is also the place were partners from different countries share their views and experiences. Furthermore, it is a tool to enhance collaboration and friendship between the various European firms.
What type of clients does Alliott Group target?
In most countries Alliott Group targets all types of companies except the multinational corporations. Most of the client base of firms within Alliott Group is made of small to medium sized owner-managed businesses.
Alliott Group’s expertise lies in assisting small and medium sized businesses to grow. That is why we have chosen to become a member of Alliott Group, since the Group strategy resembles exactly our strategy within Malta. Small and medium sized businesses in Malta form the backbone of our economy. We are confident that our firm is transmitting the experience within Alliott Group to its clients.
How are such small and medium sized businesses assisted?
Alliott Group’s philosophy is to give the best service possible at the least cost. This does not imply that we try to reduce the level of service but that we try to be more pro-active and efficient. Furthermore we try to take advantage of our size by providing a more personal service, something that the larger firms may lack due to their size. This philosophy is well practised within our firm as we try continuously to give a very efficient and personalised service.
Every business today has its own specific problems and through our experience we try to assist it in improving its operations and profitability.
This is proved by the fact that our firm today provides services to all types of businesses, ranging from self-employed persons to large Maltese or international companies. As a Managing Partner I am really satisfied that, in just four years since I left Grant Thornton, as a the firm we have been able to attract such a wide spectrum of clients from the different sectors of the Maltese economy.
How has Alliott Group assisted your firm?
As already explained Alliott Group assisted our firm mainly by giving us its technical and professional backup and guidance in addition to its philosophy.
Furthermore any member firm of a large international group assures its clients that it has certain level of professional standard and works within a regulated environment and framework. This gives your clients and your firm a better image and more credibility with banks, other financial institutions, government departments and the general public. Moreover it also gives you the possibility of attracting international clients.
How do firms within Alliott Group view Malta for investment?
The fact that Malta took such a long period of time to join the European Union affected the amount of referrals that we have received to date.
In most European countries Malta was seen as an offshore paradise and for tax purposes. The fact that in most European countries Malta was considered as a tax haven deterred international companies from using Malta.
As a result such companies were afraid that any amount invoiced from Malta would not be allowed as an expense in their country by the tax authorities. Since Malta will now become a member of the European Union this problem in my opinion will be eliminated and we hope to get more international companies, which would use Malta for their international business operations.
On the other hand most European firms within Alliott Group know of the potential of Malta. We are confident that since Malta will now become a full member of the European Union more referral work will be received.
One must remember that we have several advantages over the other new member candidates within the European Union, mainly a well-trained workforce, excellent communications, the use of the English language and a sound banking system.
What was the main theme of the conference?
The main theme of the conference was to discuss the strategic plan of Alliott Group for the next three years. Basically the strategic plan aims to improve the Group marketing and administration, diversify its services and at the same time maintain a constant growth.
Alliott Group network of independent accounting firms continues to grow at a very fast rate especially in North and South America. Also AG Legal was formed so that legal firms can also form part of Alliott Group. In this way the Group would be in a better position to meet future challenges and enhance its corporate image.
Great importance is also being given to technical matters to ensure that firms in their respective countries are well prepared professionally. The development of a more interactive web-site was also discussed and actually such project has already started.
Where are the main offices of Alliott Group in Europe?
The central administrative office for Alliott Group situated in London, though in every continent there is a central office. The Chairman is Antonio Gomez who is Spanish, while the Executive Director of Alliott Group is David Almond who is English manages the office in Europe.
What are the plans of your firm for the very near future?
We hope to continue to establish the firm as one of the best medium sized firm in Malta. We will also strive to give a total solution to our clients. We are of the opinion that small and medium businesses must reorganise themselves or else they will face difficult times in the near future as the local market becomes more competitive. Many businesses use their accountants for recording books and for fiscal purposes rather than to assist them to improve their businesses. We work with a different aim. We try to teach our clients how to use financial data to improve their business and than advice them what actions they should take to improve it.
We intend this year to introduce a new service through which we will be offering our services to companies to assist them on managing their cash-flow.
The lack of liquidity is one of the main problems most businesses are facing and therefore we believe that professional advice and expertise should be sought under these circumstances. At the end of the day our aim is to offer a value for money professional package so that our clients will continue to grow and prosper.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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