ENVIRONMENT

Entrepreneurial challenges

"The world has become a riskier place." That’s the key message of the Global Risk Landscape Survey conducted by BDO in 2017.

The study included a survey of 500 C-suite and senior level experts across 55 countries to gain their views on the main risks facing their businesses both today and in the future. Almost all of the CEOs surveyed felt that failure to innovate and embrace technological change presents the greatest risk to their businesses. An ability to adapt, invest in the right technologies and leverage the right data will separate the winners from the losers in future.

Various amendments to laws of relevance for BDO’s clients are pending in Switzerland.

Revised data protection law

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enters into force on 25 May 2018. It directly impacts some Swiss companies, for instance those that offer goods or services in the EU and handle personal data as part of the process. At the same time, the Swiss Federal Act on Data Protection is to be updated to reflect the latest technologies and societal developments. The aim is to improve transparency and strengthen the individual’s autonomy in controlling personal data.

Swiss companies face growing duties to maintain documentation, provide information and report certain matters. Companies should begin now to analyse what the new requirements mean for them and adapt their internal processes and directives to the new legislation.

Tax Proposal 17

Switzerland has undertaken to eliminate certain tax privileges for around 24,000 companies. The Federal Council has passed the key details of the updated ‘Corporate Tax Reform III’. Known as Tax Proposal 17 (TP17), the topic is set to be a political heavyweight in 2018. TP17 is not fundamentally different to the initial draft. The proposal provides for an increase in dividend tax on significant company participations, a compensatory measure that is political in nature and contested from several sides. The second planned compensatory measure – a minimum requirement regarding child and education allowances – is also likely to come up against strong political opposition. Discussions will focus on these compensation measures and efforts to secure majority support in both chambers and among voters.

Audit – action required

In connection with the revision of stock corporation law, there are also calls to amend the laws governing audits and audit oversight.  For instance, room for improvement has been identified with regard to auditor licensing requirements. Under the current legal framework, being licensed as an auditor is not sufficient for the performance of special audits, which can only be conducted by holders of the higher qualification ‘audit expert’. One suggestion is to permit licensed auditors to carry out all statutory audit services for SMEs. Moderate amendments to the licensing criteria should be made accordingly.

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