Jeroen Janssen advises major international clients. He focuses strongly on the Brazilian, Mexican and Israeli markets, assisting corporate clients, financial institutions and high-net-worth individuals on cross-border investments. Jeroen has worked in New York and London. He is a regular speaker at international conferences and is the author of several publications on tax topics. Jeroen heads the Latin America team at Loyens & Loeff and visits the region frequently.
DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.
My life in a nutshell: I first graduated from a prestigious business school in the Netherlands. After finishing law school, I started to work at Loyens & Loeff in 1994. I was seconded to New York, and worked for three years in the London office of Loyens & Loeff. After my return to Amsterdam, I became a partner of the international tax practice in 2005. As of 2007, I strongly focus on the Latin American markets, which is currently the basis of my practice.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN THE FIELD OF CORPORATE TAX?
At the start of my career I worked for two years in the M&A practice, but ultimately chose tax law. The complexity and continuously changing environment gives more intellectual challenges.
WHAT MAKES YOUR PRACTICE STAND OUT IN THE MARKET?
There are only three competitive variables: price, quality and relations. Competing on price creates a business risk, because most of your costs are fixed. Quality is preserved as a given – a minimum standard. If you do not deliver quality, you are not able to compete in the long-term. Relations is the variable that can make the difference, by giving attention to your clients and befriended firms, and showing long-term commitment. You cannot do that all by yourself. I am fortunate to be surrounded by an extraordinary team including Charlotte Kiès and Kirstin Hoenderken, and all the other great partners of the firm.
HOW HAVE LEGISLATIVE CHANGES SUCH AS THE BEPS PROJECT AND EUROPEAN ANTI-AVOIDANCE DIRECTIVE IMPACTED CLIENTS IN THE LATIN AMERICAN MARKET?
This development just started and will make the tax environment even more complex over the coming years. The advantages that tax treaties and bilateral investment treaties offer are substantial. There will be a continuous search for investment jurisdictions that better protect investments and make investments more efficient. However, if clients want to benefit from these advantages, investments should contain not only substance, but also functionality at the level of the investment vehicles. This means that more considerations than just tax become relevant to clients, if they implement structures. Long-term stable jurisdictions with a skilled workforce, a sophisticated regulatory environment and good infrastructure, are the competitive jurisdictions for the future. I expect the home jurisdictions of Loyens & Loeff (the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland) to be the market practice choice of the future.
Furthermore, I expect more tax disputes, because of mandatory disclosure rules and IT capacity of tax authorities. Also, many of the new rules contain what I call “open norms”. Open norms such as the PPT and the GAAR create uncertainty to taxpayers. For sure this more uncertain environment will result in a rationalisation and simplification of structures – especially structures of Latin American clients, because generally speaking these jurisdictions have relatively aggressive tax authorities that tend to challenge structures easily.
HOW HAS LOYENS & LOEFF ADDRESSED THE CHALLENGES CAUSED BY THE INCREASING PREVALENCE OF THE BIG FOUR ACCOUNTANCY FIRMS?
First of all Loyens & Loeff puts a lot of effort in being the leading firm for international tax development such as the BEPS. As stated, these developments create more risks and uncertainties for clients. I foresee an increase in demand for advisers with sophistication, quality and judgement. I am sure that the quality of the tax practice of Loyens & Loeff will make our firm even more competitive in the coming years.
WHAT CHANGES IN TAX OR TAX LAW SHOULD PEOPLE BE MOST AWARE OF OVER THE COMING MONTHS?
In the coming months, the impact of the ATAD implementation in Europe will be a hot topic, as well as the consequences of the new PPT in many tax treaties as of 2020. These developments will certainly impact existing investment structures of clients and will force many clients to reconsider their current structures. Additionally, I expect a continuous influence of transfer pricing, especially after the new transfer pricing guidelines.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?
I have to give a politically correct answer to you: being elected as the corporate tax lawyer of the year by WWL in 2016. I will remember the wonderful award ceremony organised by WWL in New York for the rest of my life. The award shows to me that our network is one of the strongest, and that clients and lawyers of befriended firms value the relationship. It also makes me realise how important these relationships are to success and that we have to cherish it every day.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE LOOKING TO START A CAREER IN THE FIELD OF CORPORATE TAX?
If you start working for a big multinational, your career path takes more than 30 years. Within a law firm the first 10 years are decisive. You should put a lot of time and efforts into your work during these early years. But also the firm should offer you opportunities and enable you to develop your skills. And please realise that if you make it, you will stay in practice for at least another 25 years. Therefore, the best advice I can give is to only start this journey if you really like the profession.