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Partner Profile – Thomas Althoff, RLT Ruhrmann Wüller & Partner, Germany

9th January 2013

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Thomas Althoff joined RLT Ruhrmann Wüller & Partner’s head office in Essen in 2005, relocating to the firm’s Duisburg office when he became a partner in January 2009.

What do you enjoy most about your job? Is there anything you DON’T like about your job?

I enjoy the variety of clients and industries that I deal with, carrying out international work and working closely with the team that I manage. I dislike having to deal with administrative work.

What was your first job? Where else have you worked before your present firm?

I started as an apprentice for a local tax adviser in my home town of Haltern am See, before studying accountancy and tax at Münster University of Applied Sciences. I then joined Deloitte for 13 months but did not find the work fulfilling so moved to a medium-sized firm where I worked in both tax and audit. After qualifying as a tax adviser, I rejoined Deloitte, working there for three years before joining RLT.

Why did you decide to become an accountant?

I grew up in an industrial area and saw people I went to school with starting apprenticeships with a local coal mine, only to lose their jobs a few years later. I knew I wanted a job that was secure and which would enable me to progress my career. I had a choice between working for a tax adviser and working for a bank. I chose the tax adviser as they had a more informal approach.

Do you have a particular area of expertise? What would you say your strengths are?

I have developed deepened expertise in international tax and VAT. I also deliver in-house training in these areas for clients at their businesses. I would say my strengths are my commitment to my clients and being able to implement solutions that fit into their internal processes.

What is your greatest professional achievement?

After I did in-house training for a client who ran a transportation company, they realised that there was an error with a previous invoice which had left them with a tax bill of between four and five million euros. Because they had already invested heavily in the business, they did not have the money to cover this bill. Together with an MGI partner, I was able to negotiate with the tax authorities and customers, avoiding penalties and tax payments for my client. I was also responsible for integrating the Duisburg branch into RLT.

What do you hope to achieve in the year ahead?

I hope to continue growing our client base in Duisburg and to help our new branch in Berlin to form a vital part of RLT with their specialist expertise. Expanding and strengthening our relationship with other MGI member firms is a definite goal.

What hobbies or interests do you have outside of work? Any favourite holiday destinations?

I play golf and like watching handball, which I used to play when I was young. I also have a season ticket for Fortuna Düsseldorf. My other interests include art and dining out. For holidays, I tend to prefer city breaks rather than going to the beach as I don’t like to sit still for too long.

If you were not an accountant, what other job would you do?

I would be a journalist, specialising in either sport or politics.

If you could go back in time and offer advice to yourself when you were just starting out in the profession, what would you say?

Think carefully about what you would really like to achieve and make the most of opportunities that are offered to you.