Currently, the Unija Group has about 300 employees and our goal is to become the largest accounting service provider in the region.
“We have learned how to be there for our clients, to meet all their requirements much faster and to inform them of any changes that occur. The pandemic-induced crisis has brought greater flexibility and adaptability but also greater responsibility,” says Ivana Janković, director of the Unija accounting firm.
In which countries do you operate, and what are the differences between countries in relation to the region?
We operate in 14 countries, and our main focus is on the countries in which we operate directly, such as Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia. The similarity between all countries was aptly demonstrated during the pandemic, and that is that all of them devised state aid packages for businesses and individuals. The research we conducted in Slovenia showed that the process of founding a company is equally complicated and requires a lot of documentation in all countries. But in matters of a legal nature, countries differ, although the laws we use are very similar, which is a mitigating tendency.
Montenegro, for example, has proven to be a leading country in terms of optimizing taxes and other costs and is also the most cost-effective for starting a business at the moment.
How do you assess the new measures devised by the Government of Serbia?
Most of our clients applied for financial assistance from the first package of measures and the procedure was quite simple. Of course, this required additional time and training of our employees so that they could answer all the related questions as soon as possible. Overall, I would say that state aid is a positive thing.
I expect new measures to give the same or similar results. In February, we conducted a mini-survey on whether our clients would apply for assistance from the next aid package with the same zeal as they did for the first package. We think that fewer clients will use the benefits from the second aid package. There are two reasons for that – the fear that the number of employees will decrease and the second, the bigger reason, is the impossibility of paying out the dividend by the end of 2021.
Unija regularly checks relevant regulation, our clients are properly informed, and our employees attend training sessions so that we are ready to respond to all client requests.
We have managed to save jobs, keep satisfied customers and during the pandemic, help clients with our free professional advice.
What were the biggest challenges in the previous year for you and your clients?
Remote work was the biggest challenge, which entailed longer working hours, productivity issues, a new online format of holding meetings and balancing work and private life. These experiences have also changed our business because now we are all used to the fact that it is easier to schedule an online meeting with a client than to have them come to our office.
The good thing was that all the IT solutions we had been working on in previous years have now proven to be very successful. Since we transferred all the work from the office to work to home in just one day, we managed to continue working without any interruptions and did not have to change we do our work thanks to our Unija smart accounting and paperless system.
What services did clients need the most during the pandemic?
We all tried to be at the service of our clients, but our payroll department proved to be the biggest help. At the group level, we have decided not to charge for certain services and advice. We held two free webinars on the topic of state benefits, we held a presentation for both our clients and companies that were unable to pay for our services, and we made all the information available in one place. Circumstances have resulted in our employees gaining much more experience, learning to work remotely and become much more flexible, thus adapting more quickly to the changes that are coming.
What results did you achieve in 2020 and what are your goals and plans for this year?
In 2020, we managed to expand our business beyond our core activities. In Croatia and Serbia, we merged with one of the largest accounting firms – Data Link. In Macedonia, we merged with Marand, one of the leading accounting companies that have been operating for over 15 years and in Slovenia, we merged an IT company following which we got 15 new IT experts. Now, we can demonstrate to our clients what we mean when we say next-generation accounting.
The plans for 2020 were very ambitious and we did manage to achieve them, while our plans for 2021 are even more ambitious. In addition to IT solutions, we plan to find an internal solution for the HR department, as well as for marketing services. As for our financial goals, in 2020, we managed to achieve most of the budgeted plans in almost all countries. I hope that 2021 will bring better results to everyone and restore faith in the business itself.