Tax expert sees long-term growth for PHL economy through BPO, remittances

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Derren Joseph works as tax adviser to businesses in Manila.

Derren Joseph works as tax adviser to businesses in Manila.

By Wendell Gaa

The Philippines is one of four countries which Derren Joseph calls home.

A Managing Partner at the tax consulting firm Hayden T. Joseph & Co., Derren has been delightfully enjoying living and working in the Philippines on-and-off for the past two years now.

Every month you can find Derren working out of his Moores-Rowland Philippines & Co. office at the Philippine Stock Exchange Center in Pasig City. The large accounting consulting firm with over 200 employees has maintained an office in Manila for more than 20 years.

“Most of what we do is clean-up work,” he said.

He explained his work further: “The vast majority of FilAm business owners have been poorly advised by ‘friends.’ For example, someone who does domestic tax would find it difficult to advise on international tax matters. It is a whole different sub-discipline. With the authorities both in the Philippines and the U.S. becoming more vigilant, more and more clients want to ensure that their affairs are in order.”

With his work advising businesses on tax compliance issues, this American expat has been a keen observer of the Philippine economy, and has expressed optimism for the its long-term growth.

“There is no doubt that the nation is at a crossroads. It has benefitted economically from the twin pillars of Business Process Outsourcing and Overseas Foreign Workers remittances,” he said.

He said Philippine-U.S. trade relations remain very special and as strong as ever.

“Most of the Philippine-based expat-entrepreneurs I meet are still from the U.S. Not just FilAms, but American entrepreneurs setting up shop in the Philippines,” he said. “The China factor is real, but I just see it as another opportunity for those who keep an open mind.”

An international tax accountant who is constantly on the road – “I live out of suitcases” — Derren said his line of work puts great value in face-to-face contact to create and sustain strong working relationships.

With U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim at the American Chamber of Commerce Thanksgiving event in November 2017.

With U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim at the American Chamber of Commerce Thanksgiving event in November 2017.

“I try to visit at least three of our country offices every month, which means that a typical month sees me in three to four countries,” he remarked.

Whenever he is in the Philippines, Century City in Makati is his home. The city is also the headquarters of the American Chamber of Commerce. “Makati feels like the beating heart of the Philippine business community,” he said,

Socially, he said Filipinos are among the friendliest and most generous people he has ever gotten to know in life. It’s the same impression he gets when he meets people in New York who have been to the Philippines.

On a professional level, however, he hinted how problems may arise if one is not patient. “Things in the Philippines take time and the ability to create and sustain meaningful relationships is key. I tell people this all the time,” he said.

Derren takes pride in his diverse upbringing. He was born in London to Trinidadian parents. His family moved to South Florida when he was very young, and has been educated in the U.S. This warmly gregarious gentleman has spearheaded a campaign to bring Americans and other foreign expats together through an online networking site called “Americans in Manila.” He is inviting people of any sector and nationality to converge in this “Meetup” to expand their professional and social networks.

He recently traveled to New York where he met with entrepreneurs considering international markets in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines. He has been working with corporations and ensuring they’ve got tax efficient structures.

© The FilAm 2018

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