We spoke with Jonas Ramber, lead corporate income tax compliance Partner within Deloitte Sweden’s Tax & Legal practice, to learn how Silverfin has helped transform its data processes and ways of capturing client insights across their offices.
Can you tell us about Deloitte Sweden?
I have been working at Deloitte Sweden since 2008 and work from the Gothenburg office. Today there are about 1,500 employees in Deloitte Sweden with a Tax & Legal team of about 250.
In my current role, I am responsible for making efficiency improvements in our Corporate Income Tax processes and that is how I came to work with Silverfin. We have implemented Silverfin in three of our offices so far and are expanding it to a fourth.
What business challenges were you looking to address before implementing Silverfin?
There were two major challenges that we wanted to solve.
The first one revolved around the need for consistency. We had no clear processes in place when it came to our workflows for our business tax compliance. Naturally our ways of working were different across offices, and that was one of the things we were determined to change as this resulted in too many inefficiencies and difficulties in working together. In addition, from an overall quality and audit trail perspective, we needed to bring more visibility of which team members were doing what and when.
The second reason is that we very much wanted to get rid of manual processes. Before 2020 we were still very much using these manual processes and working across multiple different software programmes. We had a local tax engine but also used a number of various applications including spreadsheets and documents. And from looking at our workflow from when we completed our working papers, all the way through to the actual deliverables we sent to the client, there were multiple different software programmes being used. This created further inefficiencies in switching between the different applications. Furthermore, if there were any changes that needed to be made during the review process, then that change would need to be replicated in all the different software programmes to ensure data accuracy, which takes up a lot of time.
We noticed that some of these manual processes tended to come up in retention discussions. As we mostly hire tax professionals we had some retention problems at the time because the main work that staff members wanted to do was technical tax work. Therefore, in order to combat this we envisioned a situation where the data handled itself so that our tax professionals could instead focus on the work that mattered to them.
How did you find the transition to cloud-based software?
Tax practitioners in general, especially those with a legal background, tend to be a bit conservative. In terms of change management I would say we are still working on that today. At the start of the project I think it is something that we underestimated. It’s not easy to make people do things differently and I know that in other transformations they went with a very soft approach. However, we did a very hard change where the message was that this is the system and this is the process we are going to use.
To be honest, it wasn’t a perfect transition. In fact, the first year we struggled a bit with some flaws in the modules we built and people not wanting to change because I don’t think they had a clear idea of what the end deliverable would be. But looking back, I’m still happy that we went with the hard transition instead of a soft approach because that enabled us to prove that the system worked. As a result, we managed to get a lot of tax returns into the system, used all the modules and workflows that we had created and were able to identify any errors early and quickly rectify them.
How has Silverfin impacted your practice?
This is the third year that we are using Silverfin. Today we are not using Silverfin for accounting, but rather to process data in a way that our team can extract the corporate income tax return from it. And as we are entering our busy season, we have a much more robust system. This year we were able to put together a best practice document with all the learnings from our previous years to fully align our offices’ ways of working. During these three years we have made tremendous progress, not just on the tax compliance side but also on how we are utilising the data. Today we are able to think a lot more about how we can use data to provide additional insights or opportunities to our clients, not only in the tax compliance side but also in other areas. For example, now when there is a change in legislation we can easily identify which one of our clients this could be affecting and are able to communicate this to them directly.
Has your team been able to monetise the new insights and opportunities that you can now provide to your clients since using Silverfin?
Our clients have been very pleased with how we can give them very tailored opportunities and feedback. Previously when we were giving feedback to clients it was broader, and not 100% of the information we shared was relevant. But now, as we are able to be more specific, we are able to deliver a more individualised experience, which builds trust and is appreciated by our clients.
We are just getting started when it comes to leveraging our clients data. Our next step is to tailor our value proposition so that we can provide them with ever more valuable insights. These insights are based on the data that our clients have already given us and allows us to add value by identifying new business opportunities for them. In fact, that’s one of the things on my list that I would like to work on this coming year.
Do you have any final thoughts that you would like to share?
One thing that I really like about Silverfin is the flexibility of its API capabilities. This allows us to easily connect the platform with our national and international engagement system and tools. The benefit here is that it doesn’t completely disrupt our tech stack and we don’t have to change things in a lot of places, which is a huge competitive aspect of Silverfin.