Who has never been tempted by the American dream? Actresses looking for success in Hollywood, students wanting to join the most prestigious universities, employees seeking recruitment at GAFAM… or even entrepreneurs setting out to conquer the enormous American market. If you belong to this last category, Laurence Ruiz and her accounting firm Orbiss offer to help you succeed in this adventure.
Article written by: ZIEL Jerome
The cultural distance that separates us from America is considerable, and the way of doing business there differs from ours in many respects. Since 2020, Laurence Ruiz and her associates at Orbiss have been going out of their way to French tech entrepreneurs wishing to conquer the American market. This, while wearing the values which make them successful today: for them, respecting a good balance between personal life and professional life is fundamental. So, Orbiss: a good company to work for? Laurence reveals to us in an interview how she does it…
Birth of Orbiss: accounting firm with strong values
Born in Grenoble, Laurence graduated as a chartered accountant in 2002. She spent her first experience in the Grenoble firm In Extenso. When her second child was born, she decided to leave the group to ride his own office. At 35, after ten years, she thinks she has demonstrated what she was capable of. Driven by a furious desire to change her life, she decides to sell everything : office, house, car, apartment, etc. And leave live at New York, carrying her three children under her arm.
After seven months, as she begins to get bored and wants to extend her American adventure, she applies for a work visa. For Laurence, the stars aligned fairly quickly: she obtained this visa and found work, which confirmed her decision to stay in the United States. After two experiences as a salaried French chartered accountant, including one as manager of the New York office of a firm, she ended up creating her own structure, Orbiss, with three partners. As she explains, “Since 2020, we have been helping French companies to come to the United States. The values very strong that drive us are quality and respect for employees”.
A cultural bridge for French entrepreneurs wishing to settle in America
Laurence notes certain difficulties in apprehending the US culture. “In fact, we feel like we know the United States from the movies, especially when we speak the language. So we have the impression that the USA is easy. But the cultural difference is very large, especially since we do not suspect it”.
Through its three departments, Orbiss accommodates French entrepreneurs tempted by the vastness of the American market. The first department, headed by Laurence, covers the accounting advice. Laurence facilitates the opening of bank accounts or the establishment of a payroll system that meets local criteria. More generally, it deals with all the technical problems with which French entrepreneurs are confronted when they arrive in the USA. For example, what are the tools allowing them to find their accounting information when moving from one system to another, between France and the United States? Laurence offers them solutions.
The same is true for the taxation corporate and individual, problem handled by the second department of Orbiss headed by Yohann Brugiere. According to Lawrence, “Paying taxes in the USA is a challenge. Because it is necessary to take into account two superimposed levels of taxation. On the one hand, federal tax applies in the same way throughout the United States. On the other hand, the tax you pay at the state level varies depending on whether you are in New York or Florida, for example”.
The third department, headed by Mark Trost, is dedicated to audits (Due Diligence in English). If the client wants to buy an American company, Orbiss helps him to validate the accuracy of the accounts of the target company, ensuring their compliance. ” Here again, says Laurence, there is a gap between American and French accounting cultures”.
Cultural differences in accounting, banking system and team management
So the American accounting system is characterized by the absence of a chart of accounts, an audit or an auditor. Tax audits are also few here, as Americans generally pay their taxes ruby on the nail. There is no monopoly exercised by the corporation of chartered accountants, as in France. According to Lawrence, “In the United States, anyone can become an accountant. We can all validate accounts with more or less experience and skill. This represents a big difference with France, where you have to do eight years of study and three years of internship before being able to practice as a chartered accountant”.
The French entrepreneur arriving in the United States must therefore expect many cultural differences. “Often, our customers complain about bank specifics Americans. Because if it is true that the USA is ahead in many areas, on the other hand, its banking sector is twenty years behind France”.
Another significant difference: there is zero notice resignation in the USA, which is likely to block the transfer of information held by an employee suddenly announcing his departure. Thus, it is quite possible that a salesperson who leaves his post on a Friday at 4 p.m. leaves with the customer base for which he is responsible. The organization of work must therefore take into account this point, surprising for French entrepreneurs freshly landed in America.
Several categories of customers
Among Orbiss customers, the most represented category is that of start-ups innovations in automation. Crossing the Atlantic, the latter seek new markets. As Laurence explains, “Our clients include start-ups that have achieved the best fundraising in France. They arrive with the ambition to bring innovative solutions to American territory”.
Laurence thus quotes the start-up Convelio, specialized in the digitization of the calculation of the transport costs of works of art. Thanks to Convelio, the person who buys a work in a gallery will automatically know the cost of transporting their work from point A to point B. This previously represented a blocking point for galleries, especially during health restrictions. Laurence also cites the case of the company swap card, specialized in digital events. Arriving just before the Covid, it has since grown exponentially, because it met the needs of people wishing to find themselves, even though they could no longer move.
Alongside tech start-ups, Laurence also has a portfolio of producer customers wanting to open shops on American soil. The latter are fascinated by the dynamism of a city like New York, left as never since the end of the restrictions. The society Paris caterer, which makes madeleines and potato gratins for New York restaurants, falls into this category.
The values of Orbiss: a successful company where it is good to work
To ensure its mission of advising French entrepreneurs, Laurence and its partners advocate a system of values that they apply on a daily basis, both vis-à-vis their employees and their customers. Employees working at Orbiss are thus guaranteed compliance with a privacy balance and professional life. Unlimited vacations, health insurance, retirement plan, telecommuting at everyone’s convenience, everything is done to make everyone feel good at Orbiss. “Everything is based on trust, Laurence recalls. The actual presence of employees in the office is not checked. If you need the morning to bring your mother to the hospital for examinations, there is no problem”. The true criterion lies rather at the level of the quality of the service provided to the customer, with an obligation to respond to emails within 48 hours, as much as possible.
Finally, Orbiss applies a policy of total transparency vis-à-vis the partners it puts in contact with its customers. “As we are the entry point for our clients on American territory, we put them in contact with service providers, such as bankers, payroll managers, insurers or even lawyers. “. However, Orbiss undertakes not to receive any commission on the establishment of these partnerships. The firm is remunerated only on the fees corresponding to the work that its employees actually carry out.
Laurence Ruiz (Orbiss): “the employees give it back to us”
During a drink that she had organized with her whole team so that people could sympathize, Laurence started by making a short speech to thank her staff for the work provided. She didn’t expect to receive thanks in return for creating Orbiss. Her teams assured her of happiness what working at Orbiss meant to them. ” I was very happy, she concludes. The trust, quality and honesty that we uphold on a daily basis have borne fruit. Our employees’ adherence to the corporate culture has been reinforced”.
More information on www.orbis.com