Europe Fides AGM Brussels 2017
The EuropeFides AGM in Brussels was held at Hotel Amigo, ideally located in the centre of the city, and handily close to our client Crestron, with which I spent the day on Thursday.
Friday was an interesting day of seminars. We started off with Brexit and an academic’s perspective, with the presentation from Professor Dr. David Criekemans from University of Antwerp, who is referred to by the Belgium media as “the Shadow Foreign Secretary”. The EU have a lot to deal with as well as Brexit with the immigration crisis, bank failures in Italy, the situation in Syria and threats from Russia and the UK is expected to pay a price for Brexit.
Then it was our very own Simon, giving the views from a member in practice. Simon’s presentation “The UK 6 months after the Brexit referendum” was very interesting and easier to grasp. There was a lot of very positive interest from the members of Europefides who are still struggling with the idea of Brexit and all the uncertainty which results.
The next session was on the Panama Papers and worldwide tax and financial structures, upcoming corporate EU legislations presented by a lawyer who help prepare the legislation and interesting details of E-residency for companies in Estonia – which may be useful for UK residents holding assets in the EU.
Saturday was the Annual General Assembly. This included a section for the current members including details of the work being exchanged between firms. WSM are one of the most active firms in Europefides and have two new clients in 2016 as well as continuing clients and have provided new clients to other firms in Europefides and in China and Singapore.
There were also presentations from new members in Latvia, Netherlands, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Hong Kong and details of business opportunities being sought from Hong Kong and China in Europe and the Demonetisation which has recently taken place in India.
We finished off with a humorous short overview of funny laws in Belgium by our host David Diris, from Kocks & Partners SPRL.The room was hysterical with laughter. Two of the funniest for me are:
You do not break the law if you busk in the town, but you are if you are out of tune!
The other is you are breaking the law if you vomit in public unless you are pregnant!
Dining was exceptional as might be expected from Brussels both at the hotel and at the different restaurants we visited.
Despite a very busy time in the conference there was time for networking including a group visit to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, and to the famous Belgian chocolates houses
Overall, the networking side was most effective in marketing WSM, not only as the UK connection for members but also as the representative in the UK for their clients requiring tax and audit & advisory advice. This is especially true for potential new members from Asia who already have British influence in their history and this is reflected in their current laws and the adoption of taxation and accounting standards. English is also the main business language which is very fortunate for WSM although we have many language speakers here in the office.
The 45 delegates were 30 different organisations coming from 17 different countries. I have almost 30 new connections and two are definitely coming to the UK this year and a meet up has been arranged. Who knows what future business referrals will result.