The Business Year

Alan Saborí­o

COSTA RICA - Economy

Costa Rica investing approximately 8% of GDP in education

General Manager, Deloitte


Alan Saborí­o Soto currently holds the position of CEO of the prestigious Deloitte global company, for Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. He also runs the Deloitte Tax Practice. In business he is recognized as one of the best tax experts in Costa Rica and has been an adviser to important national companies as multinationals. Throughout his professional career there are also knowledge posts in the public sector service in Costa Rica, where he holds important positions, among them: General Director of Finance and Taxation. In addition, he was Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Policy and alternate magistrate of the Constitutional Chamber.

"Costa Rica captured close to 45% of the investments that were made in the entire region related to shared services centers."

How big is Deloitte in Costa Rica?

We have been present for 50 years in the Costa Rican market. Deloitte was the first services consultancy company in the country. We also manage the Central America region from here with our 500 collaborators.

What is the importance of obtaining certifications for Deloitte?

In 2017, we had two projects. One of them was getting the ISO 27001 certification, a process that is already well advanced, and we would like to complete it in next months. The other project was getting the Essential Costa Rica certification, which has already been achieved. Obtaining the Essential Costa Rica certification entails some degree of complexity, and, for us, it is important to obtain a verification of our numbers; however, we also believe that as more companies are certified as Essential Costa Rica, it will promote the country abroad. Why? Because size is relevant in this sense; therefore, we consider this is a good situation to know and be clear about what we are. It is also a way to contribute to the country.

What is the profile of Deloitte’s clients in Costa Rica and the region?

We have an interesting range of clients. There are, of course, transnational companies that are Deloitte’s clients in other parts of the world, and we serve them here in Costa Rica. In addition, there are many Multi-Latin companies. We work with the most important companies of the country, but also, we have among our clients a great number of SMEs that value the quality of our services. Here, we have different business lines, and according to each of those lines, the range of clients served is differently.

How is the performance of SME sector here in Costa Rica, and how are they being integrated to the global value chains?

A significant percentage of services and manufacturing processes is in the hands of SMEs—we cannot aspire to get micro and small business as our customers. However, the truth is that, being committed to the development of the country and to our own development, investing in these emerging companies that are in a consolidating process is important for the country as well as for us in the future. We aim to be not only a service provider, but also a business partner for different companies; therefore, it is totally valid to be business partners of a transnational company, a multinational company, and a consolidated company in this country, or become business partners with SMEs that are in a growing process. We believe in supporting this growth.

What are the challenges foreign companies will find when investing in Costa Rica?

In 2016, Costa Rica captured close to 45% of the investments that were made in the entire region related to shared services centers. Costa Rica is an already consolidated services provider in sectors such as traditional exporting for manufacturing, agricultural, tourism, and others. We have a lot to do with topics of tramitology, in matters of communications and infrastructure. In addition, the biggest challenge for the country is to solve the macro-economic problem and the current fiscal deficit. Because, without this, there is no sustainable path to go in terms of our development. Because in case of an economic crisis that affects our citizens, a resulting economic imbalance would affect the investment and business environment of our country, and this would not be convenient for anyone.

What are the opportunities investors can find here?

The secret here is the people, the human resources. The truth is that as a country we have been investing almost the 8% of our GDP in education. We do not have an army. Costa Rica is a stable country. It is a country where there are no major political upheavals. In my opinion, these factors are what we offer, besides the commitment with the environmental conservation. Costa Rica being 28th in the Social Progress Index is an objective indicator, and it is meritorious that with our GDP we were rated in the Social Progress Index in a level well above our respective GDP. This means we are doing things well, but it does not mean that there is no gap to improve. Especially in macro-economic and fiscal matters.

What products and services are most demanded by your clients?

Deloitte has passed from being an audit company to a consulting company, but in our case, the audit service business is still an important component of our services portfolio. We also have an important component with our finance services and in RA, which is the advisory component. In addition, during many years, and that continues with an impressive growth, we offer legal tax service, where we are by far the largest in the country.

What distinguishes Deloitte from other consultancy firms?

Deloitte, according to the May-July 2016 reports, was first Services Firm based on income. In addition, the support of this global first Services Firm to the region helps a lot in our own development as countries, combined with the effort that is made in each of the regional markets. It is part of a 20-20 structure, a 20-20 strategy, where we want to be not only the biggest; however, the best and most profitable. This has been done in all countries we are present, and as a result of this we are executing the integration project. It is a comprehensive financial integration in the Americas.

What is your outlook for Costa Rica’s business environment in 2018?

It is complicated. In 2018, there will be an election in Costa Rica. By 2018, the fiscal deficit in terms of a national agreement should be solved or at least a strong economic adjustment should be already executed. I am sure we will continue running adequately, and I have no doubt about the process and electoral results and that there will be no disturbances; the result is going to be accepted and the electoral process is going to occur without major difficulties. I think 2018 should be a good year.

What are your plans for 2018?

We will continue with our plans for growth, our ongoing improvement, and retaining our people. This is a business based on people. Our priority for 2018 is to continue our active participation in the America integration process.



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