Digitalisation: the role of thg?
thg: How does digitalisation impact the profession of accountant/tax adviser?
S. Boskin: This evolution has repercussions both internally and externally. Internally it implies the necessity to digitise documents and information in the most efficient way possible. Our task is essentially to scan and analyse. Despite the remarkable progress in terms of quality and user-friendliness registered by the software industry, much remains to be done.
Externally, the task consists of managing the digitised exchange of documents and information. Clients are not yet very demanding. However, thg already has an Extranet that allows the exchange of data with the requesters in a secured environment.
thg: What are the major challenges for thg?
S. Boskin: The challenges to be addressed are numerous. The main ones are certainly the integration and the simplification of different processes and tools, allowing the client to perform all operations in an integrated environment. As the offer is not sufficiently developed in the Luxembourg market at this time, clients are not yet tempted to spontaneously switch to the digital communication and exchange of information with thg.
So, we are forced not only to train our own employees on using the new work methods but also to guide our clients through the transition to a digital relationship. The digital transformation creates a completely different way of working and communicating with our clients. For the moment, the client continues to receive “paper” documents and knows immediately that he must verify them and undertake other actions. It will be different in the digital world. The client will receive an email or will be warned by a signal. Yet he will more easily miss this type of notification than a postal item.
The client might think that the work would be done more rapidly going forward. Yet, considering the current state of the technology, we are far from it. Digitalisation will only generate a real added value and a gain in time when the data collection is 100 percent accurate and user friendly. The client always expects immediate feedback from us. This will also be true in the digital world. That is where the main challenge lies.
thg: It seems that the shift to digital will generate, for the most part, problems. However it should present some advantages. What about the “opportunities”?
S. Boskin: As soon as we have all the data concerning our clients as well as the numbers in electronic format, we will, of course, be able to process this numerical data very differently. We will be able to extract more information, make better comparisons, give our clients more specific advice regarding problematic situations, improvements to be made or new business opportunities. We will also have a precise assessment of the situation more rapidly and will be able to proceed faster with adjustments in the case of unfavourable developments. Generally speaking, we will be able to guarantee a much more efficient and faster control.
Digitalisation will allow us to inform the client in a more targeted manner about modifications to legislation or optimisation possibilities in the context of specific work. France and Germany are much more advanced in this domain, but other countries will soon catch up.
To conclude, any time saving will allow us to focus more on our consultancy mission. As is the case in other sectors, consultancy will play a more prominent role in our activity while the collection of documents will be simpler and faster. But, I repeat it, we’re not there yet…
thg: A brutal question: in the future, will the accountant and the tax adviser be able to work without algorithms?
S. Boskin: Certainly not. The classic accountant profession is probably going to slowly disappear or, at the very least, evolve in a radical manner. The situation is completely different regarding the work of a tax adviser. We also note - digitalisation is not a process in a vacuum - that the legislator always reduces the room for manoeuvre. It is therefore more important to advise the client in all the relevant management areas of his company. The real added-values and the potential savings are often not generated through classic advice.
thg: Could you be more explicit?
S. Boskin: Yes, of course. Let’s take, for example, the public financing of research, development and innovation. thg delivers advice to its clients regarding potential tax savings linked to the protection of intellectual property. Another example: the transfer of a company to the next generation includes many obstacles, but it could also be a significant boost for the company if it’s prepared in a timely and professional manner. thg has specialists in this field.
thg: A final question, regarding deadlines: when will the implementation of digitalisation be completed?
S. Boskin: The development is far from finished. It will be more of a continuous process. In this area, thg is working closely with the local software editor, Intec. This is not a large vendor but based on the collaboration we have had for years, the IT specialists of this company understand perfectly the profession of adviser and are able to develop and propose specific and effective tools. They build on tools that were developed over time and have proven effective a thousand times. Finally, I want to emphasize the priority given to our quality requirements.