Partner of the Month

March 2019:
HLB Stückmann


On the ball around the world

HLB Stückmann was named partner of the month by business portal “Das kommt aus Bielefeld” (DKAB for short) in March 2019. The law firm has been a partner of DKAB since 2015. Dipl.-Volksw. Dietmar Engel, who has worked at HLB Stückmann as an auditor and tax advisor since 2004, becoming a partner in 2007, sat down to talk with DKAB:

The business world is becoming increasingly more global and digitized. Companies need sound support and advice to navigate this complex landscape. For 87 years, HLB Stückmann – with 20 partners and 150 employees – has been the leading independent auditing and tax advisory company within the Ostwestfalen-Lippe (OWL) region. The Bielefeld-based company with offices in Hamburg and Munich has evolved together with its clients and is constantly meeting new challenges.

Its clientele includes family companies and businesses from the manufacturing industry based in the region. These companies underwent a change some time ago – making the switch from local to global. This included, among other things, shifting manufacturing facilities overseas, tapping into new markets and deploying staff abroad. “As a result, the requirements for our public accountants and tax advisors became increasingly more complex if you consider tax law, settlement systems and VAT, to give you but a few examples. We followed this path and joined the international HLB network in 1994,” reports Dipl.-Volksw. Dietmar Engel, who has worked at HLB Stückmann as an auditor and tax advisor since 2004, becoming a partner in 2007. Thanks to a top-performing network in over 150 countries, we are able to draw on the support of international experts quickly, securely and reliably for our clients.”

Business portal: "Das kommt aus Bielefeld"

Business portal DKAB reports on exciting products and services from Bielefeld, thereby illustrating the diversity and innovation of Bielefeld enterprise.


From Bielefeld to the world

A “China Desk” was developed at HLB Stückmann around ten years ago. China is an important business partner for German companies, but this also presents investors with particular challenges. “At the start, we had an audit assistant of Chinese origin working with us who studied in Bielefeld and also possessed the necessary specialist and linguistic knowledge,” the partner recalls the early days of the “China Desk”. That was already a huge help to our clients. “Now, in Nan Li, we have a lawyer educated in Germany working with us who not only understands our business, but is also very well networked and focused on business activities with Chinese partners – his involvement spans exploring the Chinese market, setting up a company there, and acquiring domestic companies through Chinese investors. But this connection also has an impact at a basic everyday level: At an IHK event here in Bielefeld, for example, the Chinese ambassador was a guest, and because Mr Li knew the wife of the ambassador, the couple also paid a short visit to our offices. That was really exciting and what a coincidence too, when you consider that there are over 1.3 billion Chinese people in the world,” laughs Dietmar Engel, who himself ventured beyond his East-Westphalian homeland during stints in London, Edinburgh and Hamburg, before the Bielefeld native returned to the nest and joined the company in 2004. In terms of staff recruitment, Engel has noticed the following trend: “It's difficult to attract people to the OWL region, but once they’re here, they quickly realise that the whole region offers a good quality of life.”

Internationally active

Every September the auditing and tax advisory company organises the “Bielefelder Forum: Stückmann weltweit am Ball”. 2019 will see the eighth edition of the event. Here, participants meet to discuss important fiscal and legal aspects in the international environment. “The personal contact in this inspiring workshop atmosphere is very important to us because this fosters closer cooperation,” explains a convinced Dietmar Engel. The personal contact with entrepreneurs and the networking aspects also played a role in HLB Stückmann's decision to become a partner of “Das kommt aus Bielefeld”. “DKB is the ideal campaign for shining a spotlight on Bielefeld as a business location, one which we’re very happy to support. The region showed good stability in particular during the most recent financial crisis,” Engel emphasises. “We have roots here, but we are looking further afield with our clients.” He states the following about the company’s strategy: “We don’t want to grow at any price and open up new offices all around Germany; quality is more important than quantity to us, but we’ll explore that option if and when it makes sense. However, the heart of our company is Bielefeld and the OWL region.”

Opportunities in digitization

And that’s precisely what’s happening in the region. This exciting development started some 30 years ago and is now on everyone's lips, namely digitization. A development with far-reaching effects on both accounting practices and data processing for clients. “Digitization & compliance” is a specialist field at HLB Stückmann. “For this we need specialists in IT who are also well-versed in the areas of tax consulting and auditing. That is why we are developing close ties with local universities,” explains Dietmar Engel, who continues “because we are competing for talent with other medium-sized companies. Our advantage here is that we get our young people involved with our clients at a very early stage and include them in on-site meetings so that they can get a feel for what our client is all about. We often request a guided tour of the company so that we can get a closer look, for example, at their production halls. I call that ”getting some first-hand experience”. Because, behind all those figures on paper, you have individual business developments and behind that of course you have people. This way we – and also our young talent – can get a better picture and also help make our clients continue to grow.”