As one of Europe’s leading design consultancies, AFRY is hastening the shift towards a sustainable society by coming up with solutions for future generations around the world that are truly sustainable. The company’s 17,000 experts in 75 countries are devoted to providing solutions to global megatrends such as urbanization, bioeconomics, industrial digitalization, and changes in the energy market. The company’s turnover is about 2 billion euros, and they have been cooperating with Alder & Sound since 2013.
With a multidisciplinary and international team of designers and experts, the company is divided into six business divisions which operate all around the world. Global operations require knowledge and expertise, not just of each field of business, but also of transfer pricing and each target country’s taxation laws. Previously, tax affairs were managed independently at the national level by each target country, but in 2013 AFRY decided to centralize its tax administration.
“We wanted to step up the internal monitoring of all the companies in the group and harmonize the way tax matters are handled”, says Kimmo Aro, AFRY’s Tax Director. “We wanted to make sure we were complying with the laws and regulatory practices of all the countries we operate in. Centralising this expertise also allowed us to significantly streamline our internal processes. It was at this point we established the group’s tax department and started looking for a transfer pricing partner. Alder & Sound responded holistically to our needs and has been able to adapt to us accordingly.”
“Alder & Sound are a perfect match for us, and it works well for both sides”
AFRY’s world is a fast-paced one, where customer needs must be met without delay. Any partner needs to be equally agile to keep up with the company. “Agility is a particularly important thing for us,” Aro points out. “With larger players, you often run into unnecessary bureaucracy or internal processes that don’t really add value from the customer’s perspective, but Alder & Sound is very agile and quick to react.”
The journey together with Alder & Sound will soon be reaching the ten-year mark. In this time, AFRY has outsourced them the yearly documentation of transfer pricing for about 30 of its largest companies. Alder & Sound’s tax experts have also been acting as the sparring partner for the company’s tax department as they work out the group’s forthcoming taxation policy and how they will work together in the future. Both companies also have their respective external networks abroad, and in more exotic combinations of countries, each party can benefit from the other’s contact in the target country.
“Basically, AFRY’s philosophy when it comes to tax management is that we pay taxes properly: to the right place at the right time and the right amount. This is not aggressive tax planning”, Aro adds; “we just want to make sure that everything goes smoothly, right from day one and that no time is wasted on paying outstanding taxes and fines later on. The emphasis is on staying one step ahead.”
“Outsourcing transfer pricing means our team is free to look at the bigger picture of tax management.”
“We’ve purposefully kept our own tax management team at AFRY as small as possible. Having an external partner has allowed us to do this: “We don’t need to have people on the team with siloed roles that might prevent them working together”; Aro notes. “It wouldn’t fit our team to have someone doing only transfer pricing – outsourcing it instead frees up our team to get a more holistic view of taxation in general.”
“A&S have a good understanding of our group. We don’t have to be constantly telling them who we are and what we’re doing. Instead, we just get straight to the issue at hand. Our long experience of working together has meant we know each other well. I think if there was a high turnover in people providing this service, then outsourcing wouldn’t work”, Aro adds thoughtfully.
“Working so closely together has meant we can talk about things directly and with confidence”
Close cooperation has led to a deep mutual understanding and respect. When something new comes up, it’s easy for Aro to pick up the phone and call Henri Becker at A&S. And the phone often rings. “If we’re not chatting every day, then we’re in touch every week”, Aro adds with a laugh.
“It’s a smart package that A&S offer us, and it suits us very well. And because they are also our sparring partner in process development projects, we’ve developed a very intimate business relationship. They also understand more subtle background influences that may not have been written down”, Aro relates. “Our partnership boils down to us working really well together”.
Henri Becker, responsible for customer relations at A&S, shares Kimmo’s views of the working relationship with AFRY – who he sees as a global pioneer and leading player in its field. Henri describes how the long and deep relationship with the company has provided an amazing perspective on both the industry and global megatrends.
“It has been great to see AFRY’s tax department evolve over the years”, Henri says with a smile. “Both Kimmo’s professional and personal qualities make working together easy and especially meaningful. Honesty, openness and a focus on solutions have always been the foundation of our working relationship. Working with AFRY is both a pleasure and a privilege!”
The communications agency Aava & Bang carried out this interview in June 2022.
Photo: Mats Wiklund, Shutterstock
Our team of transfer pricing specialists helps our customers grow and internationalize, plan and succeed, manage risk and communicate, and effectively handle mandatory transfer pricing. Together with our global network of partners, we ensure that our customers can focus on their cross-border business without any additional worries, unnecessary risks or undue administrative effort. At the same time, we ensure that there is an appropriate and efficient internal operating model in place.
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