TMF Group works closely with global consultants and lawyers, supporting its clients with dedicated local expertise that spans more than 80 jurisdictions from 120 owned offices. As a leading provider of compliance, payroll, accounting and administrative services, how can you describe the evolution of this company – and in particular in the Portuguese market?
TMF Group started in the Netherlands at the end of the 80’s and has been making its way and building its reputation over these 33 years. The most emblematic offices in Europe, alongside the Netherlands, are undoubtedly those in Luxembourg and Spain (around 400 and 260 employees, respectively). In Portugal, the path is still short. It started in 2018 and has shown good progress. In terms of employees, there was a growth from 10 to 35 people, we increased our customer base by 87% and grew by 172% in terms of sales. Given that half of our existence has been during the pandemic scenario, we cannot complain. This evolution was only possible due to the dedication and effort of the team, who was dedicated to care of ourselves in order to be able to take care of others and customers. I am very grateful for the team spirit and resilience that was created.
Given the breadth of TMF Group’s reach and its wholly owned network, it is the only professional services organization in the world to bring together the business services essential to the success of companies investing, operating and expanding in multiple jurisdictions. Is this business model what marks the company’s identity? Why?
Yes. TMF provides the full range of services and it is not common to find a service provider with all lines integrated: accounting, tax compliance, corporate secretariat, payroll, directors, domiciliation. This distinguishes TMF across jurisdictions. Those who come to us already know that they can count on integrated solutions in a “one stop shop” spirit. Customers, particularly those who are global, value talking to a single point of contact.
“Global Reach; Local Knowledge”, is one of the slogans that TMF Group defends. So, and taking into account the global know-how that it acquires from more than 80 countries, how has the (now known) classic and dazzling Luxembourg become a “great” country in Europe today?
I’m suspicious because I’ve lived in Luxembourg for 11 years and I have the best memories of this “big little country”. Luxembourg has a long tradition of companies like TMF. As a prominent financial center in Europe (even more so after Brexit) Luxembourg combines different nationalities and languages in a sophisticated, modern and politically stable environment. This, combined with the diversity of double taxation treaties signed by Luxembourg as well as the quality of service providers, makes it a very competitive country. Despite its size, it is a “great country”. The interaction between TMF Luxembourg and TMF Portugal is very good and we share some clients.
Within TMF Group’s activity, what are the main differences in the modus operandi and market response between Portugal and Luxembourg? What would you highlight when highlighting the competitive advantages of both countries?
Portugal is a more operational country and Luxembourg is typically a “holding companies” jurisdiction. There are services provided in Portugal that are of great importance (for TMF Portugal), which are not as significant in Luxembourg, such as payroll services. On the other hand, the capital markets department is more developed at TMF Luxembourg as well as the regulatory department (which includes MDR/DAC6, FATCA, CRS services). Portugal has a competitive advantage when it comes to companies that want to settle here in order to benefit from a better price for their workforce. In turn, TMF Luxembourg encompasses more services, as it is in a more mature and sophisticated market, where the regulatory authorities themselves provide answers to many questions, guiding companies on how to proceed, always with a view to facilitating business. In Portugal, I still don’t feel this openness in the dialogue with our regulatory bodies.
Since the TMF Group brand concept is “simplifying complexity”, how legitimate is it to say that today – increasingly – it is “easy” to simplify the most complex administrative processes in a country like Luxembourg?
TMF Group’s mission, around the world, is to let the customer focus and dedicate himself to what he knows how to do: his business. TMF wants to partner with the client and make their life easier, taking care of the bureaucratic part that – increasingly – is required in each jurisdiction. Luxembourg is no exception. We live in an increasingly regulated world, where transparency is more and more important. This has raised the levels of procedures and bureaucracy, which causes customers to come to us, too, for that. I do not think it is any easier to simplify administrative processes, neither in Luxembourg nor in any other jurisdiction. I simply think that it is more and more urgent to give this help to the customer, anticipate orders and avoid blocking points. It’s a significant part of our work and the client appreciates not having to do it.
As Country Leader of TMF Group in Portugal, what significance and importance do recent changes in facilities bring to the Portuguese brand and market?
The new office means growth and consolidation. TMF Group is a well-known brand in the world and Portugal should be no exception. We have a way to go in the Portuguese market and we are on that way. New premises are a positive and dynamic sign, for a team that is also new and dynamic to create and foster its identity.
For the medium and long term future, how do you envision the activity of TMF Group and its position in the market – already being a powerful and consolidated company? Is there any challenge/project ahead?
In Portugal, TMF is not yet the reference service provider. And that is where we want to get. That is where we want to position ourselves. We have three years of existence and, as I said, we are building our own way. We must be attentive to the market recovery, never abandoning our people or our customers, in order to consolidate growth and continue it in a sustained manner. Challenges are always there. For me the biggest is the retention of talent. With the recovery of the market and after such a long period at home, people inevitably start to “look on the side”. To be the reference service provider we will have to aspire to be the reference employer as well. For this we carry out constant satisfaction surveys, outline action plans, invest in training, IT, sustained recruitment and flexibility. Happy team leads to happy customers. I have no doubts that the biggest challenge in a company is people. Without them, nothing works.