Fabian Duss is a partner and management board member at ADB. He mainly focuses on national and international corporate tax, with a particular focus on transfer pricing, restructuring and corporate takeovers. He also advises on capital market transactions and collective investment schemes. In addition, Fabian advises private clients, family offices and executives. Fabian is a lecturer at the EXPERTsuisse tax academy, frequent speaker at seminars and author of academic publications on tax law.
What are the keys to success as a corporate tax specialist?
Corporate tax law has strong ties to corporate finance and accounting. The tax base is derived from the financial statements. Therefore, many questions and answers are not directly found in the codified law. This is why I strongly encourage young lawyers to upskill themselves in finance and accounting matters on their way to become a corporate tax specialist.
How does ADB Altorfer Duss & Beilstein distinguish itself from competitors in the Swiss market?
First of all, ADB is a pure tax law firm. Though we also advise on bordering areas of corporate and commercial law, the DNA of our team is fully committed to tax.
Furthermore, we have a team of some 15 qualified tax experts, which also makes a difference when compared to many big law firms. Our team mainly consists of specialists, experienced in their particular field of tax law. This allows for permanent sparring at a high level. Depending on the details of a matter, we are able to assemble a tailor-made team with the required skills and a high level of experience.
Finally, our parallel endeavours as academics in tax law – be it as lecturers at universities, speakers at seminars or authors of tax law commentaries/scientific articles – provide for a deep technical knowledge of our professionals. This is to the advantage of our clients on the one hand, but also to the scientific community on the other, as practical experience feeds back into academic doctrine.
What are the advantages of private label funds for family offices from a tax perspective?
Within wealthy families, different family members often have different circumstances and financial needs. This would in principle call for individual asset management solutions. However, such individual solutions are costly. With private label funds, the assets of the family can be pooled and the pool can typically benefit from lower costs due to its volume. At the same time, the private label fund makes the investment fungible for the investors. Funds can usually be paid in and drawn back any time, according to the individual needs.
How will the Swiss Corporate Tax and Old Age Insurance Reform bill impact corporate tax practice in Switzerland?
The most important aspect is that after a period of almost seven years, legal certainty is back in the Swiss tax system. Over decades, Switzerland was an attractive place of business, in particular for mobile and high-value-adding functions. Since it became clear that the current corporate tax system will have to be amended, many multinational enterprises put on hold their structural strategies or used other jurisdictions. The reform now provides for a modern and competitive tax system in line with the principles of the OECD.
What challenges does Common Reporting Standard legislation pose to lawyers currently practising in the corporate tax arena?
Actually, there are not too many challenges. Full transparency of beneficial ownership has become standard practice over the past decade, also in Switzerland. What is sometimes challenging is application of the strict rules on structures that are not so common.
How do you anticipate the Swiss legal market changing in the next five years? How might this affect your practice?
In my perception, it is getting more standardised and more specialised at the same time. In the old days, it may have been best practice to engage a single lawyer or law firm with all legal matters, from basic legal compliance services to more complex projects. The basic standard services are commodities today, for which no one pays the fees of a lawyer anymore. These services will be fully covered by legal tech companies entering the market. On the other hand, the high-end work is getting even more complex and international. This requires high specialisation. However, technology also affects this part of the market. The resources a modern and specialised lawyer needs to use in order to work cost-efficiently are more and more based on technology.
At ADB we are heavily investing into the automation and digitalisation of our working processes. Where technology could make as faster and even better, we use it. We are using online services and specialised applications for research and calculation work, and we use collaborative tools to work in the team and with our clients.
To increase our global reach, we have become part of an international network, into which we also invest quite heavily. We like to know people before we refer our clients to them and this is why we attend many meetings and conferences throughout the year. The network ensures that we can also handle tax issues for our overseas-based clients by working with trusted and like-minded professionals around the globe.