C-Suite Q&A

Baker Tilly International strengthens its network with Guatemala firm AASPASA

Zoya Malik, Editor-in-Chief, IAB spoke to AASPASA’s Managing Partner Sergio Luis Pineda Sandoval about his motivation for joining Baker Tilly International and the benefits the Guatemala based firm will bring in Central America, to serve the network

Zoya Malik: What attracted AASPASA to Baker Tilly International? Why was this a good time to join?

Sergio Sandoval: AASPASA were attracted to Baker Tilly International (BTI) for several important reasons.  BTI serves clients in 145 territories around the world and is in the top 10 ranked professional services firms across the globe offering clients a strong blend of global reach and local understanding. This will allow our firm to provide a wider range of services to existing and potential clients.  

The timing was right given that there was an opportunity to represent the network in our territory, but also it gives us a great platform to better service our clients as they are increasingly operating across borders and establishing subsidiaries in other countries.

ZM: How has Baker Tilly International supported you with your rebranding? How are you communicating this message to the market? What is the message?

SS: We have received a lot of practical and prompt support from BTI to move forward with our rebranding and the news has been announced both internationally and locally through communications. The message in essence is: 

“Baker Tilly International has welcomed Auditores y Asesores Sergio Pineda y Asociados, Sociedad Anonima (AASPASA) in Guatemala to its global network. The firm has rebranded to Baker Tilly Guatemala with immediate effect…

Delivering quality advice across the core businesses of audit, accounting, tax and legal services, the addition of Baker Tilly Guatemala further cements the network’s existing comprehensive coverage across Central and Latin America and adds to the network’s growing global legal capabilities.”

As a well-established network and brand our incorporation has been easy and straightforward in the sense that when we joined the brand was there for us to adopt with many BTI experts willing to assist in the process.

ZM: How important is your position in Central America to service the regional and an international client base for lead generation and cross- border advisory?

SS: The main trading partners for Guatemala are North America and the region of DR-CAFTA markets. Given our geographical position, Guatemala is a strategic hub for many of our clients, and like other Central America countries we connect the larger economies from the north (United States and Canada) with the countries to the south, that serve as interesting territories for the former to potentially expand their business.

ZM: What are the integrated solutions that Baker Tilly International provides that will match your existing requirements and transform your operations, collaboration and growth in the international market-place?

SS: As with any network, joining Baker Tilly International requires adjustments in our processes to serve our clients with the excellence and standards the firm is currently known for, which includes different methodologies as well as the adoption of new systems. We like to think rather than transforming our operations we will be able to continually improve our standards and the quality of our work with the tools provided from Baker Tilly International as well as learning from the experience of other countries in the region that belong to the BTI network. We are very keen to collaborate within the global strategy especially in the legal and IT practices, as these are both strategic priorities for the Baker Tilly network which coincide with being ‘hot’ markets in Guatemala.

ZM: In Guatemala, what is the state of Quality Assurance oversight for audits?

SS: The Professional Association of Certified Public Accountants and Auditors of Guatemala, as regulatory body, has adopted the Code of Ethics published by IFAC, the International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) and the International Standards on Quality Management. The Guatemalan Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Auditors has created a Directory, by which it intends to carry out the supervision process in the observance of the International Standards on Quality Management.

ZM: How is Baker Tilly Guatemala involved with the Regulator in terms of advocacy to raise Audit standards?

SS: Baker Tilly Guatemala is part of the Directory which will be responsible for the monitoring of the International Standards on Quality Management. We also have a quality management manual and will be subject to the quality control supervision that BTI has implemented globally.. 

ZM: What are Baker Tilly Guatemala’s strengths in giving international investors confidence in legal, regulatory and tax frameworks when it comes to setting up new business in Guatemala?

SS: Baker Tilly Guatemala is well placed to advise transnational clients on establishing businesses in Guatemala, whether as branch offices of foreign companies or as Guatemalan companies. We can provide them with tax advice to adequately plan for the tax impacts on their investments and profit returns, as well as provide outsourcing services (accounting, tax, payroll, and others), and can advise on special requirements demanded by the agencies of the State of Guatemala for specialised industries (Energy and Mining, Food, Pharmaceutical, Textile, Farming, Services and others). As a firm we have trained our Partners, Directors and Managers to have English language communication skills to adequately support non-Spanish speaking investors.

ZM: How skilled are accountants in Guatemala to meet international standards of accounting practice and to carry out cross – border transaction advisory? 

SS: Our teams have the professional expertise to perform and audit accounts that are prepared on a general accounting basis (International Financial Reporting Standards – IFRS – and International Financial Reporting Standards – IFRS – for SMES). Likewise, they have tax expertise related to the most relevant tax regulations affecting most entities in Guatemala. Our experience as an auditing, accounting and legal firm allows us to interconnect related disciplines such as the practice of Public Accounting and Auditing with the practice of Law and Notary. Now, as part of Baker Tilly we have the experience of a renowned network to help our accountants with all the training needed to better serve our clients.

ZM: What are the emerging industries in Guatemala and what incentives are in place to attract a new generation of accountants into your firm and the wider industry and develop their skills?

SS: IT, technology, construction, energy and mining, tourism, and hospitality are industries where there is significant growth forecast for the economy in Guatemala, which will promote the diversification of the skills of the new generation of accountants which, in conjunction with the Tax Administration’s audit approach of auditing by sectors, will increasingly improve their capabilities.

We believe that our incorporation into the BTI network will be an incentive for new generations to come and work with us and be able to specialise in industries that are not adequately covered by other accountants in Guatemala.

Main image: Sergio Luis Pineda Sandoval, Managing Partner, Baker Tilly, Guatemala