Studio del Gaizo Picchioni – Italian Commercialista, English Soul!
Antonio del Gaizo and Enrico Picchioni were both practising accountants in Livorno when they met during an insolvency case back in 2000. They soon became friends, sharing the same sense of humour and the same values. Rather than compete with each other in business they decided to join forces and started Studio del Gaizo Picchioni in 2003.
While Enrico handles Italian companies and individuals from the company offices in Livorno, Antonio now deals with English-speaking clients from his home in Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK and commutes to the Italian office once a month. He is ably assisted by his British wife Judith, a former lawyer, who knows how much people appreciate talking to a native English speaker on the end of the phone.
Antonio’s clients are non-Italian businesses or individuals who need a commercialista for anything from buying a property to freelancing or running businesses in Italy.
‘Italy is very different from say the UK, where you can just phone the Inland Revenue with a question. It’s hard to talk to anyone from the Italian Tax Authorities on the phone and you can forget communicating via a website or by email. Tax laws seem to change almost daily and you are very reliant on a good commercialista to guide you through, but that itself has its own issues for a foreigner.
‘Many people will ask their estate agent or their Italian builder or neighbours if they know a good accountant. Because a lot of business in Italy is done by word of mouth, they will usually get recommended someone local. Unfortunately, that person may not be fluent in English or have experience in dealing with the tax issues foreigners have. What if you have income from several countries for example, or spend some of the year in Italy and some abroad? What if you have questions and are not that fluent in Italian, let alone Italian tax terminology? You need to talk to someone who understands the issues from the inside. That’s where we come in. Antonio’s clients are non-Italian businesses or individuals who need a commercialista for anything from buying a property to freelancing or running businesses in Italy. ‘As I am married to an Englishwoman and have lived in the UK since 2004, I understand the British culture very well,’ he says. ‘Unlike Italians, who are resigned to the vagaries of the tax system and do all they can to avoid being drawn in, foreigners want to understand things and to know what and why they are paying. I appreciate how confusing it can all seem and how frustrating Italian bureaucracy can be.’
Why We’re Unique
Antonio developed the Studio’s niche of assisting English speakers while commuting backwards and forwards every week to Livorno. On the flight he would get chatting with people who had just bought a house or started a business in Italy and were floundering around in the tax quagmire. ‘So many people were asking me to helpt hem that I soon realised I had something unique to offer,’ he says. ‘Most companies dealing with foreigners in Italy are either one of the “Big Four” accountancy firms – and who can afford them – or else foreign accountants who set up in Italy and then pass all their work on to an Italian accountant, so they’re just a kind of middle man. I knew that there was a gap in the market for an Italian accountant who really understood the tax problems foreigners have.’
Antonio was right. While Enrico works with a thriving list of Italian companies, Antonio’s personal, friendly and affordable service is proving a big hit with foreigners. The reassuring presence of Judith is a key factor as she finds people breathe a sigh of relief when they realise they are talking to someone English. ‘Antonio is fluent,’ she says. ‘And he’s the accountant, not me. But I know that sometimes you need to explain things to a native speaker and I can also help explain anything to them that Antonio is trying to get across. And because I see things from both sides I can explain that sometimes in Italy there are a lot of grey areas in tax law, which I know can be confusing for non-Italians.’
Online and On the Ball
Antonio emphasizes how important the Internet is in developing his business and this throws up more cultural differences. ‘Italians like to do business face to face’, he explains. ‘And the idea of finding an accountant online would be almost unthinkable. I like to meet clients if possible and often fix up meetings In Italy when I am over, but it isn’t essential. I can handle your tax affairs and answer your questions just as easily from here in Banbury using Skype, phone or email as I can face to face, although as an Italian that is quite a confession for me to make! I also appreciate that being fast when responding to queries is something very important to many international clients so I pride myself on replying promptly.’
Dealing with Antonio of Studio del Gaizo Picchioni is a refreshingly different commercialista experience. His unique combination of Italian tax expertise and British know-how is unbeatable as is his open, friendly manner and sense of humour. ‘Do you know what?’ says Antonio. ‘I even eat Marmite now. And I like it!’
That probably says it all.