Trends With: Johan Aurén

Accountum, with its team of Chartered Accountants, was founded in 2010 by Johan Aurén to provide tax, bookkeeping, and accounting services for high-growth Scandinavian businesses. The London-based firm has since grown and expanded, offering a complete range of business and private advisory services.

They have a deep knowledge and expertise in the Anglo-Swedish landscape and understand the unique challenges faced by businesses involved in cross-border taxation and transactions.

Johan Auren is a Chartered Accountant and Tax Adviser with a passion for assisting Swedish businesses in navigating the complexities of the UK market. With over two decades of experience and a deep understanding of both Swedish and British cultures, Johan has helped numerous companies establish and flourish in the UK.

As the Founder and Managing Director of Accountum, Johan specialises in providing tailored UK accounting services and taxation advice to Swedish subsidiaries and individuals.

With previous roles at KPMG UK, Moore Stephens LLP, and H W Fisher & Co, Johan brings a wealth of expertise in taxation and financial management. He’s a Fellow Chartered Accountant with the ICAEW and holds a BSc in Management from Royal Holloway, University of London. He moved from Sweden to the UK in 1998.

What trends do you see within your line of business?

As with most businesses nowadays, the main focus is to embrace innovation and staying on top of all technological advancements.

The integration of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation is revolutionising how we’ll be performing accounting tasks in the near future. From data entry to financial analysis and communication, these technologies are helping us to streamline processes and enhance efficiency.

Cloud-based accounting software is becoming increasingly widespread as well, offering real-time access to financial data and facilitating collaboration between us and clients.

Our personal focus is to constantly look out for new and more efficient use of technology and setting up individual AppStacks for clients to help streamline workflows and ramp up productivity – this helps us better manage tasks on all sides and gives us more time to provide that personal touch.

From your perspective, what are the greatest challenges right now?

There is still a Brexit stigma, unfortunately, and it seems that many Swedish SMEs have a general sense that Brexit is an obstacle – so there’s naturally been a lot of initial apprehension about expanding into the UK market.

However, contrary to this belief, there’s actually been increased activity from Swedish companies setting up shop in the UK, and it’s not as complicated as you may think once you get the basics right. UK is a new market for many Swedish SMEs, and it can be daunting to enter a new jurisdiction. We therefore recommend working with a trusted adviser locally in the UK who understands both Swedish and UK markets and business culture to make the entry into the UK as seamless as possible. The UK market is full of business service providers who are not regulated, which can lead to costly mistakes if you’re not careful. Using qualified advisers, such as Chartered Accountants, is key.

We have also found that Swedish businesses can be quite time-optimistic in terms of how quickly they will be up and running and generate profits. The UK, and London in particular, is a very competitive market, and the lead time to sign up clients can take longer than expected. However, with the right groundwork – and a good dose of patience and persistence – we have seen many Swedish companies become very successful in the UK.

From our perspective, there are currently three main triggers that prompt Swedish companies to set up in the UK nowadays; Talent acquisition (Swedish companies finding talent in the UK and want to hire staff here), Existing trade relationships with UK customers (they’ve successfully been trading with UK customers for some time and are now ready to set up a more permanent establishment in the UK) and Strategic expansion initiatives (a Swedish company making the decision to expand into the UK and start from scratch).

The most common form of establishment for Swedish companies in the UK is incorporating a Limited company as a wholly-owned subsidiary, a process that requires careful navigation of legal and regulatory frameworks – but once you’ve found a trusted partner to guide you through the process, it can be hugely beneficial for the expansion of their business. UK is then very straight forward and accommodating.

And, opportunities?

Despite initial apprehensions and challenges posed by Brexit, there’s no denying that the UK market still holds strategic importance for Swedish companies. There’s no major language barrier, it’s easy to travel to and from the UK (London in particular), and there are many similarities in the business culture.

We also have a longstanding trade relationship and robust business infrastructure, so UK still acts as a natural next market to tap into once your business has outgrown Sweden. Brand Sweden is highly regarded in the UK too which can be a tremendous opportunity for Swedish business entering the market.

The UK’s rich talent pool and top-tier universities make it an attractive destination for Swedish tech businesses as well – especially thanks to the UK offering enticing tax incentives for R&D spending.

Clients are also increasingly seeking strategic guidance and proactive advice beyond the more traditional compliance services, and we’re pleased to see that more and more accountants (us included) are assuming the role of trusted advisors. Clients expect more than just number crunching from their accountants nowadays, and we love working with both our corporate and private clients in a more holistic way