Tax compliance changes driving automation | Vertex Exchange Europe 2019

After five to 10 years of talking about it, European businesses are now ready for tax automation, says Emmi Nygard

September 9, 2019

Tax technology specialists Vertex brought together tax professionals, solution experts, and its customers in Munich for its Vertex Exchange Europe event. World Finance interviewed half a dozen delegates for an update on Europe’s latest tax compliant challenges and technological advancements: you can watch them all in our Tax Automation with Vertex playlist on Youtube.

Emmi Nygard: So, my job at KPMG is to run a team that does tax technology implementation. So, specific to O Series, to VITR, and the TPE tools that are on the market. And so I often help clients decide what they really really want for the automation of their tax design and their tax process.

I think one of the biggest things is that we see compliance rules changing day-to-day almost! And we’re seeing that kind of change coming very rapidly. And so they’re seeing the need to put a tool in place that they can then automate this process – but also be ready for what’s coming next.

Most processes, if they’re looking to automate them, are manual. So those look like Excel documents, quite honestly! It’s a lot of cutting and pasting and bringing things together from different sources. A lot of clients have different and disparate source systems. So they have to come up with a different way of doing that. And when you look at an automation tool, that’s actually when you go to put that into place. Especially if they have multiple systems and multiple sources of information.

Overarchingly the hope is that it frees up the time of the tax professionals who’ve been doing this manual work that isn’t really adding value to the business itself, to then be – as we say – value add for the actual business. So that they can find other ways of being prepared for tax audits, finding new and creative ways of doing some of their tax work.

But really what I think they’re ultimately going to be able to get out of this is that they can free up their time to make sure that their people who are tax professionals are actually using their time for the best tax outcomes for the business itself.

The conversations I’m having here are both around the product, and ways that we see our clients using Vertex products today, and the ways that we could probably make them a little bit better. Because the whole idea is to iterate and keep making changes so that our customers are using these more and more. And we’re really trying to evolve them with the changing trends.

But the other ones on the other side are clients who are really looking at the possibility of implementation, and I was just having a conversation with some of the guys around misinformation that’s being provided by other software providers out there. Where we recognise that there’s still some level-setting to be done in Europe around how these tools work, what the real offerings are, and how as an advisor I can bring that to the table, so that they can look to Vertex, they can understand that they can use these tools, and how they can do that.

Five or 10 years ago I would say that companies were really looking at the possibility of automation, rather than jumping right in. And now they are actually making that leap into the next phase – and they’re seeing a need to actually implement these technologies. They’re really looking at these tools as a way to help their tax organisations jump into the future. And the reason that they’re doing that is they’re seeing legislation change day-to-day, month-to-month, year-on-year. We’re seeing more and more requirements come down the pipe, that they’re having to actually adhere to. Things like the SAF-T, things like real time reporting. And all of those things are saying you have to get it right, right now. There is no tomorrow.

So I think that’s what we’re really seeing in Europe: it’s that where the US was maybe 10 years ago, we’re there now. We’re really moving that forward, and we’re seeing automation as the next phase.


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