Taxwoman Margaux Advincula on leaving NYC: Mission accomplished

As a child growing up in Samar, she wanted to be a nurse.

As a child growing up in Samar, she wanted to be a nurse.

By Wendell Gaa

After almost two years in New York, senior manager Margaux Advincula of EY/SGV & Co. is back in Manila glowing with a sense of professional fulfillment: She has re-established the Philippines Tax Desk in the Ernst & Young New York office in 2016.

The tax desk provides advisory services to multinational companies which have operations in the Philippines or are considering investing in the country.

The tax desk “serves as the point of contact of U.S. businesses in terms of any tax matters that ordinarily cannot be answered by the Philippine Consulate in real time,” explained Margaux. The idea is to assist U.S. companies with tax queries pertaining to cross-border transactions. The person in charge works closely with the Philippine Consulate, the business community and chambers of commerce to promote investments to the Philippines, with focus on tax incentives.

“I still lead it, but SGV will be sending someone to be physically based in the EY office in New York,” she said.

The move to New York for this native Waray from Samar, happened in June 2016 when SGV sent her to re-establish the Philippines Tax Desk. She adjusted very well to her Midtown Manhattan neighborhood, took in the city and everything around it. A running enthusiast, she would jog around Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge, professing her love for New York.

“The day after I landed when I ran around Central Park, I knew New York is home,” she said.

It was the Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York (FALA) which was the first organization to welcome her.

“I will not forget FALA’s Elaine Calderon, Connie Montoya and Rio Guerrero,” she said.

Another person who became a long-time friend was Ledy Almadin, who introduced her to the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce and others members of the community.

“The FilAm community was like a foster family who welcomed me. Whenever I miss the Philippines, I just visit the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue and I was home,” she recalled.

Margaux continued, “I never felt such a great love for the Philippines and its people until I started working in the U.S. and I saw how big the FilAm community is. It gave me so much pride and inspiration.”

Margaux and Ernst & Young in the middle of Times Square

Margaux and Ernst & Young in the middle of Times Square

She described her desk at EY as something similar to that of a Philippines representative to the United Nations. “You get to work with people from all over the world with different cultural origins. I like EY/SGV’s culture of inclusiveness and diversity.”

Margaux is extremely proud of her humble beginnings. She was born and raised in Calbayog City and moved to Tacloban for college. She obtained her BS degree in Accountancy at the University of the Philippines-Visayas. She studied law on weekends at the Arellano University School of Law, graduating with honors. She passed the CPA Board Exams and began her professional career at age 22. She was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 2011 around the same time she joined SGV.

“I never really had any role model when I was growing up,” she said.

Life in the province was simple. When she was a child, she wanted to be nurse or a flight attendant.

“I just wanted to give my parents a better life – to be able to provide for their needs until they live to be a hundred,” she said. “But today, with the things I have been blessed with, I have additional responsibilities not only to my family but to SGV, EY, the New York FilAm community, even to the country.”

She joined SGV inspired by the vision of its late founder, the legendary Washington SyCip.

“As I got to know the SGV and the EY leadership closer, the people I work with and work for, in particular, I look up to them. They inspire me every day,” she said.

The Philippine market in the U.S. is small compared to other Asian countries, but she viewed it not so much as a challenge but an opportunity to make the country attractive to investors looking for tax breaks.

She observed how in the FilAm community, there was hardly any forum devoted to a discussion of the Philippine tax policy.

“This is where I came in,” she said. “Philippines tax is my bread and butter and no one could walk through Philippines tax in the U.S. other than SGV and EY’s Philippines Tax Desk. If some members of the FilAm community who worked for these U.S. companies had concerns on Philippine tax, they only needed to find me.”

Margaux will likely be back in New York in October for EY’s International Tax Conference.

Looking back on her time in New York, Margaux is reminded of Washington SyCip’s famous words about the Filipino talent being world-class.

“I agree. You give the Filipino workers the right opportunity, they will maximize it, even strive to be the best in that field,” she said.

© The FilAm 2018

A rare photo with Accounting Icon Washington SyCip: Inspired by his vision.

A rare photo with Accounting Icon Washington SyCip: Inspired by his vision.

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