'Business as usual’ - Interview of Totalserve Chairman, Peter G. Economides, to Gold News business portal

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What services do you offer to clients, and what are Totalserve’s key areas of expertise?

The Totalserve Group specialises in the fields of international tax planning, corporate, trusts, and fiduciary services. The main services offered are international tax planning, corporate, company registration worldwide, management and administration, opening and management of bank accounts, international trusts, citizenship and residency, financial services and property.

Furthermore, accounting, audit, tax compliance and legal services are offered through the group’s independent affiliated firms.

Totalserve was established in 1972, and has grown to an international group of companies with 250 professionals. Headquartered in Limassol, Cyprus, the group maintains a further 12 offices across 4 continents: London, Luxembourg, Warsaw, Bucharest, Sofia, Athens, Thessaloniki, Moscow, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Beijing, and the British Virgin Islands.


How do you ensure that Totalserve retains its competitive position in the Cypriot market?

To retain a competitive edge it is essential, among other things, to find the equilibrium between tradition and evolution. We remain loyal to our core values and code of ethics and yet are versatile enough to adapt to new practices and industry trends which our professionals constantly monitor and evaluate.

Our philosophy revolves around a client-centric approach where each case is assessed on its own merits and practical solutions are delivered.

Our professionals are multi-disciplined and are comprised of multinational experienced accountants, bankers, tax and legal consultants. The fusion of this expertise, combined with long established international professional affiliations, yields optimal comprehensive solutions with a global perspective.

Strong and timeless bonds are created via personal interaction. As such, we invest a great deal of time and resources in initiating and maintaining personal contact with all clients and professional associates.

A high level of responsiveness in handling client requests and the provision of accurate and practical advice are part of the Totalserve experience our clients have come to appreciate and expect.


How far do you aspire to be a trusted point of contact for foreign investors interested in approaching Cyprus? If so, how is this achieved?

After the initial shock following the bank bail-in decision of the Eurogroup, the majority of our clients and associates offered messages of support and unity. The backlash from investors using Cyprus was not as severe as some had hoped for. Thus, our clients and professional affiliates who know and trust the Totalserve name remain our most loyal ambassadors.

Given the negative climate which originated from various sources abroad and by some of our EU partners, it is understandable that new investors are skeptical before using Cyprus for their international structuring.  Nonetheless, the fact of the matter remains that the benefits Cyprus offers have not changed and in some cases have improved.

Considerable effort from the Government and professionals will be required in order to rebuild the lost trust. This effort is already in full swing and has generated positive results.  While new business has slowed down compared to previous years, we still get new customers that appreciate the practical benefits Cyprus has to offer to foreign investors and businessmen.

Throughout 2013, Totalserve professionals attended seminars and workshops around the globe, actively promoting Cyprus and putting worries at ease.  Furthermore, we launched our office in Beijing and created the Middle East and North Africa desk. In 2014, we will do the same: promote Cyprus, expand our business, and continue to offer the best possible service to our existing clientele.

It is my belief that the worst is over and whatever leakage we had experienced as a result of the haircut is over with.


What place, if any, does Corporate Social Responsibility play in Totalserve’s overall strategy? Do you get involved in, for example, charitable events?

I am very proud of what the Totalserve family has achieved and especially of the professionalism with which each one of us rose to the challenges that followed last year’s banking crisis: a testament of our corporate culture and unity as a group.
 
Despite the fact that Totalserve maintains 13 offices spread across 4 continents, all colleagues know each other by name and by face.  As recently as 2012, the Totalserve family celebrated its Ruby Anniversary (40 years) and colleagues from across the globe met in Cyprus for a three-day celebration and a series of development workshops.

Professional training and development at all levels is encouraged and fully supported.

Totalserve regularly participates in events promoting athleticism such as the annual Limassol Marathon.  Twice a year, an in-house blood donation is arranged where a large number of colleagues participate in.

Charity work has always been a high priority and as recently as December 2013, I had the honour of shaving my moustache in public for the noble cause of gathering funds for the charity ‘Love the Children Day Fund.’  Despite the financial situation, we managed to collect a considerable sum that will go towards children in need.


As a provider of professional services, what are your goals for 2014?

Just as 2013 has been a controversial and difficult year, I anticipate 2014 to be equally tough. Some were quick to write–off Cyprus following the March haircut, but, despite the negative publicity, Cyprus remains an important international business centre.  As such, a high priority is to continue promoting Cyprus and the benefits it offers to international investors.

As Totalserve, we will continue to improve our service provision capabilities, offer excellent services to our clients and associates, invest in our people, and expand our clientele base.

The year 2014 might be a bumpy ride, but it is business as usual for the Totalserve Group.

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