Established in 2016, ESCEC is registered with the French Chartered Accountant Institute (Ordre des Experts-Comptables de Paris Ile de France). Founder, Faten Amamou, provides expertise in bookkeeping, auditing, tax, payroll and legal advice to companies of all sizes. Here she explains how she sees her role as a chartered accountant.
You’ve adapted your service for the English-speaking community. Why is this?
I am an expat myself. I arrived in France from Tunisia 15 years ago and have faced many of the challenges the international community encounters here first hand. All the administrative and tax issues so many people find mind-boggling, I’ve been there! I know the system, whether it’s applying for your first carte de séjour, opening a personal or professional bank account, completing an Income Tax Return… I’ve experienced all of these as an expat. I know the frustrations!
That’s why as soon as I set up my company, I created a dedicated package for internationals in Paris called “Start-up business and career in France». It’s essentially a package that caters for a large proportion of expat needs, from filling-in private Income Tax Returns, registration as a micro-entreprise (auto-entrepreneur status), incorporation of a company (SAS, SARL, EIRL, SASU, EURL…),to the preparation and processing of administrative paperwork (Préfecture, tax organization, URSSAF, Chamber of Commerce…)
What types of companies do you work with?
I work with small to medium companies in various sectors including IT, food and beverage, tourism, health and beauty, medical, events organization, journalism, jewellery, interior decoration… The business activity isn’t a determining factor, my services are there for companies of all sizes and activities.
What do you like the most about working with SMEs and start ups?
I love their entrepreneurial spirit and mindset. I love to help set up businesses. During the first year, I ensure that the owner understands the basics of the tax, social and banking systems in France and the associated obligations. I also enjoy helping them grow their business domestically and internationally. Participating in the creation and then the growth of a business gives a huge sense of achievement. Helping clients find solutions to have more profitable businesses is my passion.
Why is it important for companies to use a chartered accountant?
A chartered accountant has a certain skill set and knowledge that makes them a great asset to the success of a business. Their role isn’t limited to simply keeping a business afloat; they’re also in charge of finding ways to help increase profit margins and growth.
Working with a chartered accountant is preserving the interests of a company and the transparency of accounts, through a relationship of trust, which is based on compulsory, continued training (40 hours/year), professional civil liability, ongoing quality control and compliance with a code of ethics.
Tell us about a service one may not release you provide.
As a company grows, its tax requirements and procedures will evolve. In order to remain compliant, an accountant builds a financial tax plan that reduces the amount of tax the company will have to pay. This is a key function; it’s tax optimization, one of the main services I provide to my clients.
What specific procedures should one be aware of in France that one may not have in one’s own country?
That’s a great question, and one I’ve recently shared in various online communities catering to expats. France is particularly strict on accounting procedures (whether you are an SAS, SARL or sole trader): when managers are filing accounts and they need an external independent service provider, a certified accountant (expert-comptable) IS required.
This obligation, which may not exist in other countries, is a very serious issue which actually protects the manager as a business and as an individual. In the event of misconduct, the certified accountant or firm is liable.
If managers are using services that are illegal, not registered or unqualified they are personally liable, as is the person providing the illegal service – this is not taken lightly.
For more information, there is a list of chartered accounts in France sworn in by the French institute of chartered accountants (Ordre des experts-comptables) you can search the directory on www.experts-comptables.fr/annuaire.
Also the institute of chartered accountants provides the latest court verdicts regarding illegal accounting practices, that’s to say those imitating the role of a chartered accountant: you can see the severity of this with the sentences given, imprisonment and fines are common www.compta-illegal.fr
Are there any common difficulties or challenges expats have setting-up or running a company in France that you’ve observed?
The biggest difficulty and challenge that expats encounter is the French administrative and tax system. For example, most expats, because of the language barrier, have difficulty understanding letters from French organisations and communicating with tax or préfecture officials, when trying to pay their taxes or applying for a residence permit. They have the idea that the French tax and social security system is very expensive, and they are constantly afraid of paying too much tax.
The French government offers many tax benefits, employment return assistance and also solid social and medical protection. All you need, is to be accompanied and work with real professionals, recognized in their field for advice on tax and social optimization.
What keeps you motivated and focused?
Results! When I see the development of my client’s business which is aided by our collaboration, I stay motivated, confident and very focused.
Chartered accountants are not only bookkeepers or tax consultants we are the manager’s first real consultant. Very often, before taking major decisions in their business, my clients consult me and ask for my opinion. I respond by explaining the tax, social and financial consequences of the future decision and give them my objective opinion as an expert. It is then up to them to follow my advice or not. Most of time they do! My client’s success is actually my success.
Finally, you offer a free 1 hour consultancy, what is this hour composed of?
It’s an hour for us to discuss your business together, whether it be an established company or just an idea. I listen your requests, needs and ideas. I ask a few questions to determine your personal and professional profile, I then give an overview of legal status, tax and social consequences. I also give my first opinion on your idea or project and draw up a proposal which I email to you after the meeting.
Address: 102 Av. des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris
Telephone: 01 73 70 57 83