Welcome to World Tax 2014 and World Transfer Pricing 2014 - new for this year - International Tax Review's directories of the leading tax and transfer pricing advisory firms around the world.
Choosing an external adviser is one of a tax executive's most important tasks.
The identity of the right person to assist with a matter in a jurisdiction where the tax rules may not operate in the way expected, or even where they do, is not always clear.
Going to the biggest firm or the adviser with the highest profile may seem like the obvious thing to do. Or hiring the team that has an established reputation in related industries or areas of practice may seem logical. What about the practice that does the largest transactions?
A tax executive can go down many routes before finding the right adviser.
Making use of personal relationships at existing advisers is one; listening to recommendations from peers is another; relying on international networks is a third; and opening the work up to tender offers is yet another.
World Tax and World Transfer Pricing, which is new this year, are other resources. The publications rate the tax and transfer pricing expertise offered in 56 jurisdictions globally, giving tax executives the most comprehensive information about the market for tax advice.
The publications are unique among directories as they classify professional services, law firms and other tax and transfer pricing advisers together, rather than look at them separately, because they undoubtedly compete for work. Maybe not in every jurisdiction, but it does happen.
The fact that this competition exists is also evident in the regular moves that practitioners make between law firms and other providers. It is common for advisers to spend different periods at law firms and a big-four practice during their careers.
Not size, quality
If these guides were just about depth and breadth of practice, then the firms with the most advisers in each practice area, such as corporate tax, indirect tax and transfer pricing would always come out on top.
But those practices may have stayed the same numerically for a number of years and while doing solid work, only retain clients out of loyalty. They may not have equipped themselves to deal with key tax developments.
It is usually clear-cut in most jurisdictions covered in these publications where firms should be placed relative to the tier criteria and to each other.
The criteria, which you can see elsewhere on this website, that cover size, breadth and depth and practice, and specialisms, are important, but are not the crucial factors. Quality of work has to be.
The few marginal decisions required about which firms should go in which tiers are made according to the ingenuity and innovation that lawyers and advisers bring to client engagements.
Much goes into that criterion - knowledge, experience of advisers, attentiveness, diligence - to work out a seemingly intractable issue where the advice has been in conflict.
Any other way is just not helpful to tax executives.
It is in this context that International Tax Review and TPWeek introduce World Tax 2014 and World Transfer Pricing 2014, their comprehensive guides to the world's leading tax and transfer pricing firms. We hope they will help tax executives obtain the best advice for their particular situation.
International network and leading reputation in their own jurisdiction; a number of specialists in all the areas of tax: planning, transactional, transfer pricing, indirect taxes and litigation, reflected in the size and quality of transactions
International network and leading reputation in their own jurisdiction; at least one partner in all the areas of tax: planning, transactional, transfer pricing, indirect taxes and litigation
May not be part of an international network but a leading reputation in their own jurisdiction; at least one partner in two distinct areas of tax
Niche firm; strong reputation in one area of tax, for example, transfer pricing, indirect taxes or litigation/controversy
International Tax Review researchers and journalists will interview corporate tax directors and advisers by phone, e-mail and face-to-face to compile the tiers of leading firms and write the commentaries for 56 jurisdictions in World Tax 2014 and World Transfer Pricing 2014.
Each firm that was listed in World Tax 2013, along with the leading firms in the jurisdictions that edition was researching for the first time, can make a submission.
Other firms mentioned during the research will also be sent a research questionnaire. The return of a questionnaire or a research interview does not guarantee any firm a position in the tiers.
The corporate interviewees will be chosen from a representative sample of clients of the leading firms in the market. One of the questions we will ask will be: "Who is your primary adviser?" We clearly cannot know this in advance so the representative sample can only be constructed after the interviews are completed.
Interviews with tax directors were much more extensive for World Tax 2013 than ever before.
On an anonymous basis, we will ask them questions about, for example, the quality of advice received, opinions about teams and individual advisers and what their advisers did well or badly. We will collect far more information than we could include in World Tax and we hope to make this available this to tax advisers later in the year.
The objective of interviewing both practitioners and tax executives is to get an opinion of tax advisers from their peers and their clients.
Tax directors have their own view of the market, based on the advisers they use, while practitioners have a broader view of practice because they advise many more clients than the number of external advisers a tax director uses.
At the same time, there is a possibility of bias and ulterior motive in what anyone contributes to the research and we will try to minimise this as much as possible through a verification process.
No recommendation from any adviser for their own firm or their colleagues in that firm will be taken into account.
Firms cannot pay to be included in the tiers or to have their individuals listed but will be offered independently the opportunity to list their professional details for a fee.
Tiers of leading firms from 56 countries or territories will be included in World Tax 2014 and World Transfer Pricing 2014.
This year, once again, leading individuals will be highlighted in the text about their firm in the market commentaries on each country and territory, rather than being listed separately by specialism.
At the top end of the rankings will be the firms that have the greatest depth of resources, experience, and range of specialisms. They are considered the best teams overall for tax advice in the country concerned.
In cases where our research reveal it is difficult to distinguish between the quality of teams, such firms are grouped, in alphabetical order, in the same tier.
The important point to note about the rankings is that all the firms listed have highly reputable tax individuals in their advisory teams.
When they are published on October 1, we hope you will find World Tax 2014 and World Transfer Pricing 2014 to be valuable tools in helping you identify the appropriate advisers in the jurisdictions covered.
Editor, International Tax Review