“Moodys 2.0”: Exciting changes!

What an exciting time it has been recently! As hinted in some of our previous blogs, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to significantly improve our service offering. Internally, we’ve been calling it “Moodys 2.0.”

Essentially, if Moodys was a house, then we renovated. We added more rooms (our new offices in Edmonton, AB and Buffalo, NY), expanded the garage from a single to triple car (Moodys LLP is now affiliated with Moodys Gartner Tax Law LLP and Moodys US Tax Advisors) and finally, created a guesthouse (to prepare for our continuously growing team). However, similar to any home renovation, the foundation remains the same. For Moodys, our vision has always been to provide the highest quality tax advice to clients…either directly or indirectly by working with their trusted advisors (accountants, lawyers, private bankers, investment and insurance advisors, etc.). That vision has not changed. And our new tagline “Tax Well Solved.TM” describes it best – we are all about tax. Period.

Not only has our foundation remained strong, we’ve reinforced it by adding new partners to form a veteran leadership team. We now have 8 US tax lawyers and a number of US CPAs and Enrolled Agents as part of our Alberta-based team. Our US professionals work together with our Canadian professionals to ensure our advice is complete and well rounded – or what we like to say, “Tax Without Borders.” We always knew there was a need for Canada / US tax advisory services given the close proximity of Canada to the US, the large number of US citizens that live in Canada and our years of experience working in the area. We’re so excited to have significant bench strength in this area and we’ll continue to grow our Canada / US tax offering as our clients’ demands grow.

In Canada, the tax advisory profession is dominated by the accounting and legal professions. Much of what the two professions do is the same, however, there are also distinct differences. For example, only lawyers can offer privileged communications with clients. Lawyers, of course, also have specific training in other areas of the law which may impact the tax advice. Accountants generally have a better grasp on the financial implications regarding their advice and usually have much more experience with tax compliance. Accountants are also usually savvy about the non-tax impacts regarding their advice. Given such, it has always been my belief that the two professions should strive to work together in tax advisory matters, combining input, analysis and perspectives. This approach would only work towards the benefit of the client. However, such coordinated offerings in Canada have been, and currently are, rare. The two professions’ regulatory rules also do not make it easy. With our recent changes, we believe we have found the right recipe to achieve the objective of having accountants and lawyers working together for the benefit of the client…after all, isn’t that who is the most important person in the relationship?

The addition of our new affiliated law firm “Moodys Gartner Tax Law LLP” is an important ingredient. It is led by one of Canada’s top tax lawyers – Greg Gartner. Greg is also a CA and certainly agrees with the philosophy that accountants and lawyers are better together…not apart. We are very fortunate that he has joined our affiliated group as a partner. Greg has particular expertise in corporate reorganizations including purchase and sales of businesses. He thrives on “closing the deal.” In addition, Greg has a well-known expertise in agricultural tax matters and has lectured and written extensively on such matters.

With Greg calling Edmonton home, and leading our new affiliated law firm, it was only natural to open up an Edmonton office. Edmonton is the gateway to Alberta’s oil and gas operations. It is a thriving city with energetic and successful entrepreneurs…just the type of client that we love to serve. As you can imagine, we are very excited with the addition of our new Edmonton office – which is set to open January 8, 2013. Contact details will be made available shortly (since the renovation dust is still flying). Most Albertans are aware of the healthy rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton – especially between their hockey and football teams! However, rest assured, there’s no rivalry between our Calgary and Edmonton offices (aside from a few future friendly bets!) our goal is to very much work together for the benefit of the client.

I’m also pleased to announce the appointment of another new partner to the firms’ leadership team…Dale Franko, CA, CPA, TEP. Dale is a very experienced tax professional who has a firm grasp of both the US and Canadian tax systems. He has also been appointed by the partnership (and thankfully he accepted) to the position of Managing Partner. Our firm is committed to continue to grow…not just for the sake of growth but to continuously improve our service offering to our clients. Such improvements and growth require sage leadership and Dale provides that. For anyone that knows him, I’m sure you’ll agree he carries a “cool hand” and “level head” when dealing with management and client issues. We’re excited to have Dale’s leadership skills to guide us through these exciting times.

As our existing clients know, our firm is not in the Canadian tax filing business. This is because we focus our efforts strictly on tax advisory services. There is no shortage of great Canadian tax preparers and advisors. In fact, many of them are clients of ours who seek assistance from us because of our particular expertise. Accordingly, our business model is to ensure that we do not compete with our Canadian tax preparing friends and instead prefer to work WITH them. However, there are not many US tax preparers who have a good understanding of the Canadian tax system and the complexities that a US citizen who is resident in Canada has. The same exists in reverse…there are not many Canadian tax preparers who have a great grasp on the complexities of the US tax system. Our business practice has been – and will continue to be – that we will assist Canadians who need US tax preparation services given the importance to be compliant with US law. However, we underestimated the demand that exists for high quality US tax preparation services for Canadians. Given such, we needed to increase our bench strength. And we have. We have recently entered into a new partnership with a New York State accounting firm (that we have worked with for years) that has tremendous experience preparing cross border filings for Canadians. The new partnership is called Moodys US Tax Advisors and it’s open for business! Our expanded US tax preparation services is a coordinated effort amongst our 3 offices. If a client needs US tax compliance services, we’ll take care of it.

With all of the above noted changes, we needed to significantly increase the number of professionals that work with us. We have been very busy adding talented accountants and lawyers (both Canadian and US) to our roster. We’re proud of our new teammates. Besides being very highly educated, they’re also great people. You’ll find most of the new additions on our website. Have a peek and get to know them…I’m sure you’ll agree that we’re building a great team.

Whew, that’s a lot of changes! All good though. Not without some blood, sweat and tears but we’re so proud of our expanded team and service offering. Please feel free to communicate with any of our teammates and provide feedback. We love hearing from you. To our clients, referral sources and friends, we truly thank you for your support. To the Moodys teammates, thanks to each and every one of you for your commitment to our clients and for your contribution to “Moodys 2.0.”

This is going to be fun!