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Clients use survey to air views about services from advisers

Hiring the right external advisers can be one of the most difficult jobs for a tax department.

Tax executives are often faced with highly marginal decisions when choosing external advisers. Even after they determine what sort of expertise and experience they need, among a range of appropriately-qualified choices, it is not always straightforward to pick the firm or adviser that will fit the precise requirements.

And with the pressure on budgets that exists now and with that, the requirement in some companies to initiate a tender process for all work that will cost more than a certain sum, reliance on long-standing advisers is not always possible. It leaves tax departments with an unenviable task of working out where to obtain the best advice.

A series of research projects initiated by International Tax Review will attempt to find out what taxpayers want from their advisers and whether those needs are being met.

The first piece of research covers six European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland and UK and four practice areas within tax: corporate, transfer pricing, transactions and planning. It is open to any tax executive that has experience of using advisers in those jurisdictions, not only to those that are located there.

The research attempts to establish, on a confidential basis, how and why tax executives make the choices they do about their external tax advisers and the way in which they use them. The research poll asks tax executives to choose the firms they use primarily for advice in the four practice areas. From this flows a series of questions about how and why they are chosen.

For example, there are questions about:

  • The reasons why taxpayers choose their advisers, such as reputation, technical skill and cross-border networks;
  • The use of advisers and whether it has increased or decreased over the last year;
  • The number of firms used;
  • The frequency that taxpayers review their advisers' performance; and
  • The percentage of budgets for external services that is spent on big-four firms and law firms

As the research series is expanded to other countries and other areas of tax practice, the information gathered will build up into a valuable resource about an area that has become as complex as tax itself.

The research poll is an opportunity for tax executives to air their views confidentially about the services they receive from their external advisers and how those services are presented.

The research is aimed at capturing taxpayers' views about the services they pay for. Not only will it inform companies about those firms that are leading the way in client service but it will also help to instruct firms about where and how they can improve the services they offer to clients.

Anyone who completes the research will be entitled to:

  • Exclusive, free access to aggregate data from the project. This data will offer some insight into how tax executives regard the advice they pay for; and
  • A free trial to ITR Premium, the just-launched news and analysis service

Take the survey now at

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