While more companies and employers have embraced borderless work arrangements, governments, taxes and the global financial economy are yet to catch up. This remote company is helping expats overcome the often complex financial challenges.
Living and working wherever you want is becoming a reality for many. Technology makes it so much easier for people to free themselves from their desk job for life as a digital nomad, travelling the world while continuing successful careers.
But a nomadic lifestyle can make tax time a little tricky in many cases, and your obligations and responsibilities can become more complex than usual.
Greenback Expat Tax Services is a digital tax agency taking the mystery, and misery, out of filing US taxes while living and travelling abroad. Based in Hong Kong, Greenback Expat Tax Services values simplicity, security, accuracy and transparency, right down to a no-surprises flat fee, which in their own words, ‘is as close to happiness as taxes get’.
Founded in 2008, Greenback has clients across 175 countries and growing, and that success can be attributed to the personal understanding of its founders, Carrie and David McKeegan. The American expats were frustrated by the difficulties of filing taxes in the US while living and working in the UK, so, they decided to simplify the process.
One of the most important steps was recruiting accountants with expertise in US expat taxes, and the best place to look for the best people, was online. Greenback Expat Tax Services now has a team of 35 contractors, all working remotely from wherever they are happiest.
We sat down with David to discuss how he manages their niche service with a global team of remote administration and accounting staff.
“We can hire folks from any place in the world,” David says. “This is great considering our clients are all over the world too.”
With a focus on simplicity, Greenback allows customers to prepare and submit taxes quickly and easily online. All of the hard work is completed by Greenback’s remote team members, who are best placed to understand the individual needs of every client.
Accountants are goaled on the number of clients they work with, while weekly and monthly goals are set for the management team.
“But the greatest achievement of all has been a team effort. The fact we have grown our company into a multi-million dollar business as a 100% virtual team,” says David. “It can be hard not meeting people in person, especially in interviews, but we do those via Skype so we can see people and how they react to questions. Looking in someone’s eyes helps – even if it is via a computer screen.”
Like most virtual companies, the Greenback Expat Tax Services team uses a variety of online modes to operate and communicate, including Podio.
“We also have a virtual water cooler where people can chat and ask questions. We do ‘Get to Know You Wednesdays’ as well, where we ask a question and people respond, and ‘High Five Fridays’, where we recognise folks for a job well done.”
David adds, “I think most businesses will go this way in the future. It can be a much more efficient way to run things.”