The beginning of October brought some changes for KPMG Romania's management. The company has appointed Mark Gibbins as its head of tax, with effect from October 1, replacing Patrick Leonard. Gibbins built a career at one company, staying loyal to the same brand for a very long time. “I have been with KPMG since before it was KPMG,” says Gibbins. He joined Peat Marwick in 1980, after graduating from university, and in 1987 the firm merged with Klynveld Goerdeler. “My path through KPMG commenced in London and took me to several locations in the UK. I then worked for KPMG Portugal and more recently KPMG Slovakia, which included regional roles for the firm in Central and Eastern Europe,” adds Gibbins. He considers himself fortunate to have been in Slovakia during a period of rapid changes in the business environment, and expects to see similar fast changes in Romania. His experience in different cultures and business environments has afforded him an insight into the Central and Eastern European region, which should stand him in good stead for his stint here. Moreover, Gibbins says he is a real fan of Romania, which means that working here is both a pleasure and a step forward in his career. “I've had a fascination with Romania ever since I visited as a tourist a few years ago. When I heard that Patrick was taking the next step in his career, this seemed like the ideal opportunity for me,” says Gibbins. But there are also a lot of professional challenges for the new head of tax at KPMG Romania, one of them being the crisis. “This is a particularly tough time for many businesses, so we need to be especially focused on what customers want. In this rapidly evolving market we need more than ever to work hard to meet new needs from customers,” says Gibbins. But he admits that he has a big advantage: he is lucky to be taking over a department that has been well managed by his predecessor. He also emphasizes the importance of teamwork, especially now, when clients need more attention from their consultants. “We value continuity, because we understand that a customer builds relationships with particular people. At the same time we are flexible and we can modify the structure of a team as the customer's needs change, or if he needs new services,” he adds. As for the future of financial consultancy and auditing in Romania over the next few years, Gibbins expects corporate governance to be a growing issue in Romania, and so the professions may well develop to take account of this.
One in, one outThe departing head of tax, Patrick Leonard, joined KPMG in Romania nine years ago. It was a time when both Romania and KPMG were very different, he remembers. “For Romania, EU accession was a distant prospect, and there were many who thought it would never happen. KPMG operated from a much smaller office than we have now, and we did not have a separate tax department – it was tax and legal back then,” says Leonard. Today, the firm's tax department has over 100 specialists, operating from the Bucharest office, and also from branches in Timisoara, Iasi, Cluj, Constanta and Chisinau. “I have had a very exciting time here, because the department has grown so fast, and I've had to be constantly on the alert to identify new client needs, and work out on how we could develop new services to meet them,” says Leonard. He adds that the most satisfying part of his time here has been seeing how staff members that were at junior levels when he started have developed and are now at the highest levels in the company.As for the challenges he has faced, he says that the biggest one has been to adapt to a rapidly changing market and legislation. As Romania moved towards EU accession and beyond, KPMG had to assist its clients with some very complex issues. “For example, EU accession meant major changes to VAT, to comply with Single Market rules. There have also been some non-EU related changes which have had a major impact on our clients, such as the introduction of the flat tax for corporate and personal income in 2005,” explains Leonard. Of his professional future, the former KPMG head of tax says he has decided to take a brief period of time out to review his career options. “There are many opportunities out there, and I am looking at them all very carefully,” he says.