Introduction

Welcome to World Transfer Pricing, 2017. This is the fourth year TP Week has published its directory to the leading transfer pricing advisory firms around the world.

The scrutiny on multinationals' transfer pricing (TP) operations has intensified year on year since this directory's first edition, and 2016 saw seismic changes introduced in TP regulations and documentation globally in response to the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project. Being able to find an adviser with the knowledge to navigate this changing market can be fundamental to a company's TP policy.

However, finding the right adviser to help manage the uncertainty is not as simple as going to the most-well known firm or individual. Each company has its own unique structure and requirements and finding an adviser who understands the business practicalities of a particular industry, or has first-hand experience of the authorities in a specific jurisdiction, is vital to address individual company needs.

World Transfer Pricing is the directory in-house tax and transfer pricing directors turn to in order to find the firms and advisers which can give them support, tailored to their needs.

Each edition rates the TP expertise offered in more than 50 jurisdictions globally, giving tax executives the most comprehensive information about the market for TP advice.

The publication is unique among directories because it classifies professional services, law firms and other TP advice providers, including economists, together, rather than looking at them separately, because they undoubtedly compete for work.

Not just size, quality

This guide goes beyond just the size of the practices. While breadth and depth are important offerings, flexibility and innovation are also vital.

Obviously, not all jurisdictions are the same. The breadth of knowledge and expertise required to be a Tier 1 firm in a large jurisdiction with a mature transfer pricing regime exceeds that which is required to be a Tier 1 firm in smaller jurisdictions with less developed transfer pricing regulations.

It is usually clear-cut in most jurisdictions covered in this publication where firms should be placed relative to the tier criteria and each other. The criteria (listed next to this introduction) that cover size, breadth and depth of practice, and specialisms, are important, but are not the crucial factors. Quality of work and client feedback are the key considerations for ranking.

The few marginal decisions required about which firms should go in which tiers are made according to the impact 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 can be in conflict.

It is in this context that TP Week presents World Transfer Pricing 2017, our comprehensive guide to the world's leading transfer pricing firms. We hope it will help tax executives obtain the best advice for their situation.

Methodology

TP Week researchers interviewed corporate tax and transfer pricing directors and their advisers by phone, e-mail and in-person to compile the tiers of leading firms and write the commentaries for 51 jurisdictions in World Tax 2017.

Each firm that was listed in last year's edition was given the opportunity to make a submission. Other firms referred to during the research as having international tax capabilities in the jurisdiction concerned were also sent research questionnaires, which were also hosted online for the first time. Returning a questionnaire or a participating in a research interview did not guarantee any firm a position in any of the tiers.

Interviews with tax executives were an important part of the research process. People were interviewed on an anonymous basis to encourage candour. We asked them questions about, for example, the quality of advice received, opinions about teams and individual advisers and what their advisers did well or badly.

The objective of interviewing both practitioners and tax executives was to get an opinion of transfer pricing advisers from their peers and their clients. This year, we placed a greater emphasis than ever before on interviewing firms' clients.

Tax directors have their own view of the market, based on the advisers they use, while practitioners often 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 was a possibility of bias and ulterior motive in what anyone contributed to the research and we tried to minimise this as much as possible through verifying each piece of information supplied, particularly opinions about other firms, which can sometimes be based on hearsay rather than evidence.

No recommendation from any adviser for their own firm or their colleagues in that firm was taken into account. Firms could not pay to be included in the tiers or to have any individuals mentioned but were offered – independently and after the tiers were finalised – the opportunity to list their professional details for a fee.

Individuals, particularly those in leadership positions, are mentioned in the text, but this should not be taken as definitive endorsement of their quality as these mentions are not based on any scientific survey.

Tiers of leading firms from 51 countries or territories have been included.

Unique rankings

This year, once again, leading individuals are 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 are the firms that have the greatest depth of resources, experience, and range of specialisms. They are considered the best teams overall for transfer pricing advice in the country concerned. Firms are listed in alphabetical order within each tier.

The important point to note about the rankings is that all the firms listed have highly reputable tax individuals in their advisory teams.

We hope you find World Transfer Pricing 2017 to be a valuable tool in helping you identify the appropriate advisers in the jurisdictions covered.

Joe Stanley-Smith
Editor, World Transfer Pricing and World Tax

Tier criteria

Tier 1

Firms have a leading reputation in their jurisdiction. They have a varied portfolio of work. They offer a range of transfer pricing services. They boast a variety of different clients.

Tier 2

Firms have a leading reputation in their jurisdiction. They have a varied portfolio of work. They offer a range of transfer pricing services.

Tier 3

Firms have a leading reputation in their jurisdiction. They have a varied portfolio of work.

Tier 4

Firms have a leading reputation in their jurisdiction. They offer transfer pricing services.

Research begins on March 30

Research for the 2018 edition of World Transfer Pricing and World Tax will begin on Thursday, March 30.

The guides, which provide information on the top tax and transfer pricing practices in more than 50 countries globally, are free to participate in.

This year the process of submissions will be slightly different, with a separate questionnaire for each country covered. All forms will be downloadable from International Tax Review’s website from 3pm, UK time, on March 30.

Should you have any questions once research has begun, please contact Joe Stanley-Smith, World Tax editor.

Advertising in World Transfer Pricing and World Tax is entirely separate from the editorial process, and only begins after the rankings have been finalised.

World Transfer Pricing and World Tax 2017 will remain online until October 2017, after which they will be replaced with World Transfer Pricing and World Tax 2018.