Today we are interviewing Matthew Smith. A 33 years old UK Chartered Accountant with over 10 years of experience in the UK and overseas working in the field of International Taxation. Currently he is living in Valencia, Spain and is the Owner and Director of OneSolution, a tax and accountancy practice serving the international community in Spain. We also know that outside of work he enjoys music, sport, pilates, cooking and food.
Where did you live and what exactly were you doing before coming to Spain?
I had been based in London since 2010, working as an International Tax Specialist in the City for a large multinational bank. In 2013 I took a work secondment to Geneva in Switzerland, where I was Head of Tax for the Bank’s European private banking operations. When I returned to London in early 2015 I realized that the attraction of London had definitely worn off!
How did you decide that Valencia is the right place you want to come?
I have spent plenty of time over the last 10 years living and working in big cities and living the chaotic and non-stop lifestyle that brings with it. When I decided to move to Spain, I wanted somewhere a bit smaller than the big cities of Madrid or Barcelona, and somewhere that offered a slightly slower pace of life but still with enough going on to not get bored. I considered Bilbao and Seville before settling on Valencia.
What motivated you to start a business here?
I arrived in Valencia in April 2015 and took a few months to find my feet and figure out if it was a place I could see myself living for the next few years. Once I had decided that it was, I then started to think about how I could make a living here.
I considered applying for corporate positions but it was obvious that the majority of these positions would be based in either Madrid or Barcelona, so I decided I would try and create a niche for myself here in Valencia. I wanted to utilize the skills and experience I had gained over the course of my career, but I also wanted to create a service that was relevant and in demand, both locally and abroad. From there, OneSolution was born!
What “One Solution” stands for?
Tax can be very tricky for expatriates, particularly in the years of arrival to/departure from new countries, and particularly for those expatriates who maintain either assets (i.e. property), income streams or business interests in more than one country.
In these scenarios, expatriates can often find themselves having to use an accountant/tax advisor in their home country and then another one here in Spain, with no understanding of how the two tax regimes interact in the context of international tax agreements. This can be expensive, time consuming and confusing, and, above all, it exposes people to unnecessary risks.
Given the above, I decided to call the business OneSolution because, in a nutshell, this is what we provide to our expatriate clients – we are able to look after our client’s tax affairs both in their home country and also here in Spain, thereby by providing them with One Solution for all of their tax and accountancy needs.
Could you explain what your business provides to its customers?
We appreciate that everybody’s situation is different and that people have different objectives when it comes to managing their financial affairs.
We therefore provide a completely bespoke service to all of our clients, always starting with a free-of-charge face-to-face initial consultation. We then tailor our packages to suit the needs and circumstances of the individual, always agreeing fees in advance.
What are the most common problems here in Spain for Expat community tax wise?
The most common problem is always lack of understanding and misinformation, often obtained through online research that is either out-of-date or, worse, just plain wrong. Tax is a difficult topic, and even for us professionals it can be testing at times, so as much as it may seem like a sales pitch, it really does pay to speak to an expert!
What has been your business’s biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
I would say getting our name out there and building a reputation. With only a small marketing/advertising budget, it takes a lot of time and effort to become known for what you do. We have formed collaboration agreements with relocation/property/mortgage agents, formed relationships with other lawyers and accountants in Valencia, and attended many business networking events.
What is the main reason for your business’s success and why?
We provide a service that people need, we provide a very high quality of service, and we provide it in native English – that has undoubtedly been a big factor. But more so than anything else it has been about perseverance, hard work, and believing in what we do and the value we give to our clients.
What would you advise to other expats willing to start business here in Spain?
- Learn the language.
- Accept (don’t fight it!) that in Spain things take longer and may be more complicated than you are used to.
- Have a good idea of a) what you want to do b) who you want to do it for c) how you will do it, and d) Why people should choose you over the competition (this will help you to define your competitive advantage).