New Statesman: So you’ve been in the job for a month – how is it going?
Jon Tricker: I’m thoroughly enjoying it. We have a very interesting array of young, talented people from all over the world, all with different experience, and all sharing a drive to be challenged and have a good time in the process. There’s a buzz around the office, which I sensed on joining; we all enjoy working together and spending time with each other, so it’s already been great fun and has exceeded my expectations.
NS: How big is the operation, exactly?
JT: We’ve got about 25 people. Most of our people focus on audit and advisory, from which much of the very substantial growth in the business over the last years is derived. The essence of audit is challenging the accounting decisions and judgements made by another accountant – the best auditors have both strong technical accounting knowledge and well-rounded people skills. The lively and interesting people at KPMG Gibraltar therefore make great auditors.
We also have tax specialists, who advise on Gibraltar tax and to some extent UK tax matters.
NS: KPMG is a globally recognised brand – how does the Gibraltar arm end up advising on UK tax? How does it fit in internationally?
JT: KPMG, in a very similar way to the other accounting firms in Gibraltar, is a network of member firms, which are independently structured but which use the same brand.
The difference with KPMG Gibraltar is that we have a very close relationship with the KPMG firm in another jurisdiction – KPMG Isle of Man. The Isle of Man practice is well-positioned to support Gibraltar in a number of areas, for example in relation to advising on UK tax, supporting our professionals advise wealthy individuals looking to move over to Gibraltar or who already have operations here. But the relationship goes further than that as there are many similarities between the two jurisdictions – for example in the strong online gaming and financial services sectors both economies enjoy – and both practices are able to leverage expertise and thought leadership on those areas from one another. This fusion is most visibly brought to bear in KPMG’s very successful internationally recognised eGaming Summit, which takes place both in Gibraltar and the Isle of Man.
From my standpoint as an audit partner the ability to connect so easily with partners in the Isle of Man with similar clients and expertise makes my job easier and brings added value to our clients.
NS: Presumably those specialisms have an impact on your recruitment?
JT: Certainly the fact that KPMG Gibraltar is so well recognised and regarded in relation to the fast-paced and exciting world of eGaming attracts graduates to join us. And being able to work as auditor or tax advisor on such clients leads to specialisms within our ranks.
I should say that it is not only in eGaming where we are strong and specialised. We are just as comfortable with financial services where we have a broad range of interesting clients – and people – in insurance, banking and funds.
NS: So do they have to be territory specialists as well as niche market specialists? Gibraltar has some unique features. Regulations on gaming in Gibraltar aren’t the same as they are elsewhere – just as an example, Malta is very different.
JT: That’s right. You need to know about Gibraltar legislation to work here. The guys who are working with Gibraltarian companies all the time will quickly learn about the specific issues, from training courses and on the job.
NS: So where does Gibraltar fit in – how important is it to KPMG wordwide?
JT: There are a number of substantial clients in Gibraltar who are KPMG global clients, and from a KPMG global perspective it’s very important to be represented in Gibraltar. A client of KPMG Japan which has an operation in Gibraltar will have a smoother audit knowing KPMG has a presence in Gibraltar and that their subsidiary can come to us as auditor or tax advisor. Put simply KPMG people from different jurisdictions talk the same language and it’s easier to work within the same network using the same terminology and methodology.
NS: Given a global perspective, how does the rest of the world find Gibraltar – particularly its relationship with the UK in terms of sovereignty?
JT: It depends on the country but in my experience if there is a Gibraltar entity within a group structure, an external auditor might need to spend a little time working on understanding its particular circumstances but once that’s clear, it’s fine.
NS: Tell us a bit about your personal background – how did you come to work with KPMG, and why Gibraltar?
JT: I’m new to KPMG. I trained as a chartered accountant with Deloitte in Cambridge and made the decision to move to the Rock in 2005, joining Deloitte’s Gibraltar operation in September 2005 and making partner in 2010.
NS: Was the move to Gibraltar for professional reasons?
JT: It was a professional and a lifestyle decision. I have always loved my job and working as an auditor in Gibraltar provides plenty of professional challenge whilst also allowing plenty of opportunities for me during down time, particularly with my 3 young girls.
NS: OK. So –
JT: Coupled with that there’s the weather, the nice tapas, the golf. It made sense for many reasons.
NS: Don’t rub it in. So, you’ve been heading KPMG Gibraltar for a month. It’s early yet but can we expect to see any changes as you settle in?
JT: I’ve inherited very strong foundations. Mike Harvey, the previous audit director, and Micky Swindale who was the previous MD, have both worked really hard over the last seven or eight years so I’m starting from a very favourable position.
That said, in any professional services firm there will be things that can be improved but there won’t be any massive change to the external face of KPMG, which already has a fantastic brand and image in Gibraltar.
If there’s one particular thing I would like to see change gradually, it’s in relation to local graduates. It’s difficult for all the big accounting firms to find good Gibraltarian graduates who want to become chartered accountants and we have a very important role in the community – the more we can appeal to Gibraltarian graduates to come and work for us, the better, and that’s a change that will happen over time. Any bright young things reading this should not hesitate to contact me !
NS: That’s without losing the international flavour, we’re guessing?
JT: Exactly! The international flavour we have is very special.
NS: Jon Tricker, thank you very much.