From AI to AEOI: Takeaways from WTS Hansuke’s Financial Services Tax Conference 2024

For the 6th year, tax leads from across the city, country, and continent gathered in London in mid-June to discuss industry developments and issues at the WTS Hansuke Financial Services Tax Conference.

The daylong program kicked off with a keynote address by Dr. Petkova of the German Federal Ministry of Finance, who has been instrumental in Germany’s collaboration with the EU, OECD, and UN. Dr. Petkova cited the axiom that larger the membership of the organization working on coordination of tax policy and administration, the slower the progress and less consequential the change tends to be.

Dr. Petkova’s remarks were followed by a discussion on the state of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI), a regulatory regime described by the panel’s title as “aging disgracefully.” Panelists expressed frustrations with the practicalities of automatic information exchange and the complex compliance landscape – a landscape complicated further by national privacy laws that conflict with AEOI mandates.

Moderated by BNY tax product head Liam Stanbridge, the subsequent session introduced the concept of ‘Tax Spiritualists.’ The panel introduced a range of perspectives on the level of complexity needed in the tax world, sparking a spirited debate on adhering to the letter versus the spirit of the law in tax administration and compliance.

In today’s technologically driven world, no tax conference is complete without exploring AI tools. Presentations underscored the growing importance of AI in analyzing vast amounts of tax-related data, ensuring that rules do not conflict and can be implemented effectively.

The final panel of the day, led by Rebecca Wilmott of JP Morgan, featured Dr. Frederick Schuska, a key architect of the FASTER initiative recently adopted by the EU’s ECOFIN. The discussion included insights from the head of tax EU/APAC for Capital Group, a partner from WTS Germany, and Len Lipton, a Managing Director at GlobeTax. Representing the European Commission, Dr. Schuska summarized the recent compromise text of the FASTER initiative (agreed after 10 rounds of debate), highlighting the benefits and the challenges of securing broad jurisdictional support for expanding relief procedures.

A notable highlight from the text was consensus on the eCertification of residency, viewed as a significant advancement within the FASTER framework. Uncertainties remain, however, regarding how Germany’s updates to the claim process and MiKADIV reporting will align with FASTER. Onlookers likewise question FASTER’s overall impact, as capital markets requirements mean only the ~10 largest EU markets would be required to implement the initiative. Although full implementation is not scheduled for 2030 (following likely approval next year), governments and market players will likely start acting sooner considering the technology investment required to support delivery.

We look forward to watching these developments continue to unfold at the conferences next year and beyond. As always, thanks to WTS Hansuke for the thoughtful lineup and hospitable welcome!