Managing Partner, Stephanie Wickham and her team at Expat Taxes are experts specialising in providing advice and compliance services to expats and their employers (both inbound and outbound). With the current Covid19 situation people have inadvertently been given an opportunity to catch up on personal matters including taxes. Stephanie is offering special rates to IIBN Members on professional consulting and compliance.
If you would like to find out more about Expat Taxes and the IIBN Member special rates you can contact email@example.com or visit her website here
Asked in an interview with IIBN Stephanie reveals that Expat Taxes provide advice and solve tax problems for expats in relation to the tax and social security issues arising when relocating and living abroad. We also work with corporate clients to assist with the global mobility and tax issues related to relocating employees. Our approach is friendly, boutique and expert.
How did you get the idea/ concept for your business?
I have lived and worked overseas as an expat myself for 8 years. On returning to Ireland I realised that there is a gap in the market for expats at home and abroad who need specialist tax advice. Additionally, employers often don’t understand how to navigate the complex tax issues arising when sending employees to work overseas. Many accountants struggle with the concept also. I saw an opportunity to use my experience to target this market. Having worked with expats and globally mobile employees for the last 8 years I understand how stressful it can be trying to manage tax when relocating. I enjoy what I do.
Give a brief account of your education background.
I graduated with a First Class Masters of Business in Accounting from Waterford Institute of Technology. I had been awarded the HETAC WIT Student of the Year Award in 2006 and thoroughly enjoyed my time at WIT. I went on to train as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG in their Corporate Tax division. I also qualified with the Institute of Tax as a Chartered Tax Adviser.
Did you always know/ever think you would become an entrepreneur when you were younger?
In honesty – no! My husband is also a Chartered Accountant and is by nature much more entrepreneurial than I am. However, I toyed with the idea of setting up a business when we returned to Ireland and quickly realised when I started to advertise that there was definite demand for what I was offering! That gave me the incentive I needed to go for it.
Is entrepreneurship a common trait in your family?
My mother has until recently run her own business offering accounting and book-keeping services in our area. She provided some great tips and advice when I was setting up.
Did you have prior knowledge of the industry before setting up your company?
Yes, my most recent role in Australia was managing the Tax Function for a Global Offshore Services provider (DOF Subsea). I ran the Employment & Indirect Tax Department for the Asia Pacific Division which gave me exposure to taxes in over 20 jurisdictions for the offshore employees. I also have previous experience working with expats from my time with KPMG.
What was your previous work experience (if any)? Do you think this gave you an advantage when
setting up your business?
I trained with KPMG Tax in Dublin and then joined KPMG Perth where I worked with their International Executive Services team offering global mobility and expatriate tax services to large muti-national clients. I am an Irish trained Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser. My previous experience is a definite advantage when setting up a business. Having said that, nothing prepares you for the challenges of setting up by yourself from designing websites, navigating red-tape and the genuine fear when you realise there are no pay cheques at the end of the month!
How did you initially fund your business? (self-funded, government funding, etc)
Initially self-funded and I am currently liaising with my Local Enterprise Office in relation to receiving government funding. This will help me expand my current business model.
Looking back, would you have changed the method of funding you chose?
No, thankfully self-funding to date has worked well for my business so far.
What difficulties, if any, did you encounter when securing funding?
Did you encounter any financial difficulties in the first year of operation? If yes, what did you do to surpass them?
My main issue has been ensuring my pricing is “right” i.e. at a level to attract the right type of customer. It has been a case of trial and error to date to get it right.
What characteristics do you feel benefited you most when starting your business?
I really enjoy helping people solve tax problems. It can be very stressful trying to understand how you are taxed as an expat and I really enjoy helping people get to grips with what they need to do and being able to offer a service to manage it for them. For my corporate clients I feel my strong attention to detail is key to getting the best outcome for them when relocating an employee. Obviously as a tax adviser I get a kick out of ensuring my clients minimise their tax bill where possible.
To what do you attribute your company’s success/growth to?
It has been hard graft and running your own business is not for the faint-hearted. So far I think my determination and personable approach has served me well. It is important to me that my clients feel they are working with someone who “gets” their dilemma. No two clients are the same. I also feel that it is important to run a “21st Century” business – utilising the cloud where possible to share information and minimise unnecessary paper trails for all. Standardising processes to future proof the business.
What is your opinion on the importance of a professional network for an entrepreneur?
It cannot be stressed how important this is. I have been lucky enough to receive support from some fantastic people since I started my business and most of this support has come directly from networking groups and Linkedin contacts.
Do you think entrepreneurship has changed in recent years?
Yes – I think there are added aspects to doing business now that impact entrepreneurs. Marketing and advertising in a digital world was completely new to me. I think the world we live in now with GDPR compliance, online marketing and instant information at our fingertips means entrepreneurs are thrown into a world where they need to learn a lot – quickly, when they set up business.
Would you ever consider starting another company or involving yourself in new start-ups again?
Definitely – I am really keen to expand what I do and take it in new directions which would allow the current business to grow further.
If you had one piece of advice for a new entrepreneur, what would it be?
Your scarcest resource as an entrepreneur is your time – use it wisely by making a plan for your working day, your budget and your marketing strategy.