The reason for this was the need to keep up with the times: the business environment in Estonia was gradually becoming more regulated and internationalisation was gaining momentum. All of this made client needs more complex as well.
Nõmmiste explains: “We realised that there were two options: either you do something very well and are needed by clients as a result, or you know a little bit about everything and therefore can’t deliver what clients need. You need to be a first-rate specialist in your field, as that is the only way to offer maximum benefits to the client.” This, says Nõmmiste, is why towards the end of the 1990s people started thinking about building up tax advisory and other advisory services.
Although accountants and auditors advised clients on both tax and legal matters as well as they could, you won’t find any job titles other than ‘auditor’ or ‘accountant’ on the business cards of the professionals who worked at Rimess in the nineties. This changed in summer 1999: the company’s first tax adviser, Kristjan Järve, was recruited. Järve, now a partner in the firm and in charge of tax services, recalls that auditing was the most important service of Rimess in the 1990s and that auditors were all-rounders who also took on the role of financial and tax adviser and lawyer when needed. “Like a jacks of all trades,” he smiles.
Järve, who was hired as a tax adviser at Rimess, soon became the builder for the area of corporate tax advisory. “It was a massive and really interesting challenge for me because, although I had the support of my partners and management at every step, there were no specialists in the field to mentor and guide me at the time,” he says. “For me, it was a chance to create something new, something big. Membership of international networks also helped, allowing us to adopt and adapt international best practice, as well as to train tax advisers.” Soon, he invited his lawyer friend Tuuve Tiivel to the firm, who started to develop the legal field, and at the same time, auditor Artur Suits started to build up the financial advisory line. The internal audit service was soon added as well.
Although tax, legal and financial advisers work on issues in their own fields, they are also intertwined: one cannot get by without the others. Artur Suits explains: “With almost twenty employees, the Advisory Department is one big team of specialists from different fields. We put together smaller project teams from among these employees, depending on what the client needs. Sometimes we boost the teams with experts from outside of Grant Thornton Baltic. That way, we learn and grow because every client, project and expert involved teaches us something.”