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Jelena Knežević, Partner, Leitnerleitner

Each Project Presents Unique Challenges

One of LeitnerLeitner’s main corporate strengths is caring for employees, clients and the community. They believe that investing in the professional development of employees has become one of the key support pillars for the company’s success

Talking about work at the Group, Mrs Knežević says that she is grateful to grow within it, and to share the same vision and the same values. According to her, the company has developed her at both a professional and private level. She is very pleased to see that an increasing number of women are also employed in senior management positions.

You have an extremely successful period behind you. Could you single out something that makes you feel particularly proud? What do you like in particular about your job?

Over previous years we have developed a strong and professional team of experts, who are passionate about finding feasible solutions to all tax, audit, payroll and financial advisory issues.

We constantly invest in the education of our employees and hire young and talented people who are willing to learn and grow together with us. In-depth analysis and a proactive approach are the values I instil in my team, of which I am very proud. Regarding the question about what I love most about my job, I would like to say that it’s the possibility to created added value; to work with talented and creative people who share the same vision and dedication to the mission; professional growth – each project presents unique challenges…

How much has LeitnerLeitner contributed to your professional and personal development?

It has been a great pleasure for me to be at the helm of LeitnerLeitner in Serbia over the past nine years and to have a very successful period behind us, both in terms of the development of the company and the brand on the market, but also developing our employees and building an amazing team.

LeitnerLeitner has developed me both at the professional and personal level, overcoming constant challenges as a manager and following the professional standards and market position of the company as a reliable partner. Our consistently high-quality standards, personal commitment, flexibility and optimistic approach are key factors for customised and sustainable solutions. We bring life into complexity – a meaningful partnership is the best foundation to address all issues – in private life, in business or when considering a new vision. That’s why, together with our clients, we share the tax, economic and financial challenges of everyday life and in complex situations.

There are professions that are traditionally considered as being men’s work. Do they not include tax advisory work?

I would like to believe that, today, women have more opportunities than ever to succeed and advance in the profession. The tax industry has been changing and developing over recent years, and has become more interesting. Many female tax practitioners have entered in the industry, either as consultants or in-house personnel. The composition of male and female consultants in the industry is now almost balanced.

The Bureau says that accounting and tax preparation positions now skew noticeably towards a female bias. Perhaps more surprisingly, women are taking over many financial jobs that are often perceived as male-dominated. They comprise 54.7% of financial managers and 59.3% of budget analysts.

I think female leadership can only add value to a company. It is really crucial for companies to become more equal; while company leaders should also have the vision and goal to prioritise gender equality every day, in every decision we make. I am very pleased to see that an increasing number of women are also employed in senior management positions, and we really encourage such an approach within the LeitnerLeitner group.

We are leaving behind a very difficult year. Do you think that 2023 will bring us fewer challenges?

In we compare 2022 with the 2020 – 2021 period, growth outcomes were far more stable. But this year has been remarkably turbulent, with the global economy hit by multiple adverse “shocks”.

Energy market dynamics will be just as challenging for Europe in 2023 as they were in 2022, and input costs will remain high for years. This will make some industries uncompetitive, leading to a loss of global market share. Inflation—which surged to an unprecedented annual rate of 10.7% in October 2022 — is expected to remain well above target for the remainder of 2022, as well as in 2023. On the positive side, the region’s unemployment has hit a record low of 6.6%, employment and hours worked are above late-2019 levels and labour market participation is higher than it was before the energy crisis. Although labour markets may weaken, the increase in unemployment may be modest.

Together with our clients, we share tax, economic and financial challenges of everyday life and in complex situations

Serbia is a country with an excellent geostrategic position and excellent bilateral relations with numerous countries. These benefits must be utilised to recover our economy in the coming period.

We would also like to impact on macroeconomic level and participate in many programmes and amendments of relevant regulations, which certainly also contributes significantly to furthering the green agenda. Our plans for the next period are very optimistic; we hope for even greater success, the growth of the company in Serbia, but possibly also expansion to a region where LeitnerLeitner is not yet represented.

Could it be said that we are on the right track when it comes to harmonisation with the EU acquis?

Serbia is making progress, which the EU has recognised. The country needs stable economic growth enabled by sustainable fiscal consolidation and the implementation of deep structural reforms. The latest edition of the Foreign Investors Council’s 2022 White Book emphasises, among other things, that the privatisation and corporatisation of public enterprises and the reform of public administration will have a significant impact on overall macroeconomic indicators and should be improved. EU integration should continue to be our key priority. Digitisation, labour, infrastructure and construction, tax administration and healthcare are just some of the areas where we share common interests and can learn and exchange experiences with the EU.

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