Lawyer profile: Vaea Pery

Written on
31 January 2024

1. How long have you been practicing tax law, and what was the deciding factor in your choice of this specialty?

I’ve been practicing tax exclusively since 2002, nearly 22 years.

I was attracted to the subject in university by its highly technical and practical aspects, and since then I’ve never tired of it, because it’s always on the move and closely linked to societal developments.

 

2. What traits or skills do you think are essential to practicing tax law intelligently?

First and foremost, technical rigor, because in tax law the devil is in the detail! The subject is constantly evolving, sometimes profoundly (we’ve sometimes had as many as five Finance Acts in one year! And at least two a year). The conditions of application of the various tax measures are subject to regular changes, and to clarification by doctrine or case law… you need to be on the lookout at all times. Regularly renewing and updating your knowledge is essential if you want to maintain your advisory acuity.

Secondly, pragmatism. I try to support my clients in their business and wealth decisions and strategies, which requires clear positions they can rely on.

 

3. You are a member of the A3F association. What role does the Association Française des Femmes Fiscalistes play in the professional development of women in this field of law?

What’s great about this association is that it brings together tax directors (large, mid and small cap) and lawyers, and the exchange of views on the issues encountered is both highly technical and very concrete, particularly when new measures are being introduced, with no hindsight or case law on which to base decisions on “grey areas”. We’ve decided on a common technical position for all of us, and are awaiting further details if they become available. We exchange views live on current tax audit “topics”. The tax authorities are regularly invited to attend our meetings, which enables us to bring up any difficulties encountered in application. All this helps us to provide our customers with as much clarity as possible on the tax environment and its foreseeable developments.

 

4. What little-known or misunderstood aspect of tax law would you like to demystify for the general public?

Some of my clients have an appetite for tax matters, others not (or even an aversion). I always explain to everyone the economic rationale behind any particular measure we wish to implement. Understanding why the legislator wanted to encourage this or that operation by providing a tax advantage, or why this or that condition was imposed (often to prevent the scheme from going astray) enables us to think together more effectively, and to support the implementation of the strategy put in place over time. When you understand better, you apply better. So, to answer the question, I want to demystify ALL tax law!

5. How has your experience gained in Anglo-Saxon law firms enriched your tax law practice? and what drew you back to a French firm?

At the start of my career, I looked for the best possible training, followed the recommendations made to me and started at a “big five” company (PriceWaterhouseCoopers): a large number of files, all different, a varied client typology, very demanding contacts and fourteen people ready to take your place in the event of failure… that’s motivation to keep performing well. Working on the GDF-SUEZ merger or for France Telecom (for example) gave me the impression of participating in the French economy and politics.

I then went on to gain further experience at Ernst & Young, where I perfected my working methods while gaining in autonomy, again for very stimulating clients.

But when it came to developing my own clientele, the French firm was an obvious choice. It’s my culture, even if I’ve always worked internationally. I like to develop a close and trusting relationship with my customers, which is not possible in large Anglo-Saxon structures where the people involved in a project are interchangeable.

 

6. If you could recommend one daily habit that has transformed your life, what would it be and how has it benefited you so much?

Enjoy the little things. But it’s not really a transformation, because for as long as I can remember, I’ve always been like this. Seeing the glass half-full, and how to fill it up again. Looking for perspectives where none are immediately apparent. Be creative. A competent tax expert is a happy tax expert.

 

7. What significance does the use of your father’s desk have for you in your professional environment?

My father spent many hours sitting behind this desk, first as a doctor, then during his retirement, which was always active.

This desk makes me want to sit at it every day. It’s full of positive vibes.

 

8. How was the importance you attach to human relations a determining factor in your decision to join NMCG Avocats?

Over the years, this has become my key criterion. I like being part of a joint project and the interaction with my colleagues. From exchange comes wealth. You can’t spend ten hours a day with people you don’t like!

And the welcome I received from NMCG was not only very warm, enthusiastic and open, but also far beyond anything I’ve experienced with other colleagues.

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