Monthly Archives: August 2013

Tax Structuring Opportunities Through Canada and Luxembourg

By Robert Worthington


A recent ruling from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has approved a financing structure that creates substantial tax benefits. The tax plan utilizes a hybrid instrument issued by a Luxembourg entity.  It also relies on Canada’s tax system which may allow for repatriation of income of foreign affiliates on a tax-free basis. This planning may benefit not only Canadian companies, but also non-Canadian companies that structure through Canada and Luxembourg.

Luxembourg is a leading jurisdiction in creating innovative financing structures. The “double dip” strategy described below effectively results in tax deductions in two or more countries in connection with interest expenses on the same economic debt. Although tax authorities and the OECD often disparage tax planning that entails so-called “double non-taxation”, the CRA ruled favourably on this particular structure.

The facts in CRA ruling 2012-0452291R3 are complex, but the following is a simplification of the relevant transactions. A Canadian corporation (Canco) is partly owned by a non-Canadian corporation (Forco). “Opco” is a foreign affiliate of Canco that carries on business in a country that has a treaty with Canada. Generally, a “foreign affiliate” is a corporation in which the Canadian taxpayer has at least a 10% equity interest.  As shown in the diagram, Canco invests in mandatory redeemable preferred shares (MRPSs) of “Finco”, a corporate entity resident in Luxembourg.

Finco makes an interest-bearing loan (Loan 1) to a foreign affiliate of Canco (FA 1). FA 1 then makes an interest-bearing loan (Loan 2) to another foreign affiliate of Canco (FA 2). FA 2 uses the proceeds of Loan 2 to acquire shares of Opco and to make an interest-bearing loan (Loan 3) to Opco.

The MRPSs have attributes of both debt and equity. They have a mandatory redemption at a specified date, are also redeemable at the holder’s option, are subordinated to debt, are not entitled to dividends, have voting rights, and are convertible to common shares of Finco. The MRPSs are considered debt for Luxembourg tax purposes but equity for accounting purposes. The CRA ruling has three important components. First, interest paid on Loan 1 and Loan 3 are re-characterized as active business income under Canada’s foreign affiliate rules and added to “exempt surplus”. Second, distributions paid by Finco on the MRPSs are considered dividends for Canadian taxpayers. Third, these “dividends” are effectively exempt from Canadian tax under the exempt surplus rules.

The ruling that interest on the loans is re-characterized as active business income is key.  This is because interest income earned by a controlled foreign affiliate of a Canadian taxpayer is normally taxable on an accrual basis, subject to deductions to recognize any foreign tax paid. In addition, interest income is not normally added to exempt surplus. Consequently, dividends paid to a Canadian corporation that are sourced in interest income of a foreign affiliate are not exempt, but are only entitled to a deduction recognizing any foreign income tax paid. On the other hand, where a foreign affiliate’s income is sourced in an active business, dividends paid to the Canadian corporation are generally exempt, provided that the business is carried on in a country with which Canada has a tax treaty or tax information exchange agreement.

In certain instances, however, interest income can be re-characterized as active business income and included in exempt surplus. In general terms, interest income earned by one foreign affiliate on money lent to another foreign affiliate can be treated as active business income and added to exempt surplus if the second foreign affiliate uses the borrowed money in its active business. Accordingly, the CRA ruled that the interest income on Loan 1 and Loan 3 would be re-characterized as active business income.

As a result of re-characterization of the interest income, when Finco pays a distribution to Canco it is considered an exempt surplus dividend. This goes to the heart of the hybrid nature of the MRPSs. As mentioned, an MRPS is treated as debt for Luxembourg tax purposes. If the CRA followed the Luxembourg tax treatment and considered the MRPSs debt for Canadian tax purposes, distributions from Finco would not be considered dividends, and therefore Canco would have taxable interest income instead of exempt dividends.

The CRA also ruled in favour of the taxpayer regarding the non-application of several specific anti-avoidance rules and the general anti-avoidance rule.

The tax benefits of a structure such as this are substantial. Assuming Opco is in a high-tax jurisdiction, it may obtain deductions on interest it pays to FA 2 on Loan 3, subject to thin capitalization restrictions or other vitiating tax rules. Dividends paid to Canco by Finco and FA 1 to Cancoare fully deductible in Canada. For Luxembourg tax purposes, distributions on the MRPSs should be treated as deductible interest payments and not subject to withholding tax, whereas dividends distributions would be subject to a 5% withholding. Finally, although not dealt with in the ruling, Canco or Forco may be leveraged with external debt, potentially creating additional interest deductions.  In sum, this structure potentially allows for interest deductions in three countries in respect of the same economic debt.

The CRA ruling is a very welcomed clarification for businesses that route internal financing through Canada and Luxembourg. Although the ruling is only binding with respect to the taxpayer who requested the ruling, it is indicative of a business-friendly stance on the MRPS financing structure.

GGI member firm

Shea Nerland Calnan LLP

Tax and Legal

Calgary, Canada

Robert Worthington





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This article is an excerpt from GGI Insider Issue #66.

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GGI Latin American and World Conferences in Cancun, Mexico, 29 October – 03 November 2013

This year’s GGI Latin American Regional Conference will take place from 29-31 October at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Cancun, Mexico. The event will be hosted by GGI member firm Barajas, Luján y Asociados S.C.P. Contadores Publicos.


Dr. Miguel Mantelli, Regional Manager Latin America & the Caribbean, will update all delegates on the latest regional news as well as plans for the future development of this important GGI region.

The conference will identify business opportunities in the USA, and delegates will also share and discuss business experiences they have had with North American GGI members to date.

Another topic on the agenda will be money laundering, specifically taking into consideration the challenges and responsibilities of lawyers and accountants as well as how they can interact to prevent the issue.

Interactive sessions will create an ideal platform for all delegates to exchange their experiences, views, knowledge and ideas on content-related subjects.

The annual GGI World Conference will also take place in Cancun from 31 October to 3 November, immediately following on from the Latin American Conference.

Jorge Fernando Quiroga Ramírez is to be the keynote speaker at the conference. He will deliver an informative speech entitled “Economic trends within South & Central America and globally”.

Jorge Fernando Quiroga Ramírez is the former President of Bolivia. Having been previously elected Vice President in 1997, he was the youngest person to have ever held this office. He has also been the Bolivian Minister of Finance and Undersecretary of Public Investment and International Cooperation at the Ministry of Planning.

Born in Cochabamba in 1960, he gained his Bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering summa cum laude from Texas A&M University, and his MBA from St. Edward’s University. He received the World Leader of Tomorrow Award from the World Economic Forum, and he has served as Governor for the World Bank, the Andean Development Corporation, the International Finance Corporation and the International Monetary Fund.

He is a member of the Club de Madrid, a group of more than 80 former presidents and prime ministers of democratic countries which works to promote democratic leadership and governance.

Practice Group meetings will be held during the conference as well as interactive workshops to complement this centrepiece.

The conference is an excellent opportunity for delegates from all over the world to network, meet with key decision makers, forge new friendships, exchange views, knowledge and ideas in addition to discovering opportunities for future joint business projects. Catch up with old friends, gain inspiration from top-quality lectures and participate in Practice Group meetings and workshops.

As usual, a colourful mixture of fringe events will round off the conference.

GGI members yet to register may still do so. Please use the online registration tool at (Member Login > Events). The detailed conference programme is also available on the website.

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This article is an excerpt from GGI Insider Issue #66.

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Interesting Facts about Philadelphia, PA | GGI North America Developing Leaders & Best Practices Conferences Sept 26-28


In the spirit of getting excited for our North American Developing Leaders & Best Practices Conferences, to be held in Philadelphia, PA on September 26-28, we gathered some interesting facts about Philadelphia.

  1. Philadelphia is home to Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were both signed and adopted.
  2. Philadelphia served as the meeting place for the United States Congress for several years, and was where George Washington served as president from 1790 to 1797.
  3. Philadelphia is the birthplace of America’s first-ever daily newspaper. “The Philadelphia Packet and Daily Advertiser” ran for six years, from 1784 to 1790.
  4. Philadelphia was where the first American Flag was designed, sewn by Betsy Ross out of her humble upholstery shop.
  5. Philadelphia is the home to the Liberty Bell, an icon of American history. A common myth is that “Pennsylvania” is misspelled on the bell, but in fact, the state’s name hadn’t a common spelling at the time the bell was forged–“Pensylvania” was considered an acceptable alternative.
  6. Philadelphia is the home of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, the oldest such exchange in the United States of America. It was founded in 1790.
  7. Benjamin Franklin founded the Philadelphia Zoo, the first public zoo in the United States.
  8. In 1946 Philadelphia became home to the first computer.
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Reasons To Visit Barcelona, Spain | GGI German Speaking Chapter Meeting, Sept. 20-22



Whether you love sports, art and architecture, history, culture and food, or are simply interested in visiting lively cities, Barcelona has got something for you.  It is a thriving economy and the fourth most visited city in Europe after Paris, London, and Rome.  If you have not already had the pleasure of visiting, you can join us for the GGI German Speaking Chapter Meeting September 20-22.  For more interesting facts about Barcelona, Spain and more reasons to visit, continue reading:

  • FC Barcelona is the most famous sport club in Barcelona, which is most popular for its football team. The club has their own stadium with capacity for 100,000 people, which is the biggest stadium in Europe. It is also one of the most visited places in Barcelona.
  • Barcelona is the 16th-most-visited city in the world and the fourth most visited in Europe after Paris, London, and Rome, with several million tourists every year.
  • Barcelona is a center of modern architecture. Especially it is famous for Antoní Gaudí’s creations. One of the most significant Gaudí creations is La Sagrada Familia, which is still under construction. The Cathedral’s building process started in 1882 on which Gaudí was working on for more than 40 years. He spent the last 15 years of his life on this project.
  • Barcelona is the 4th best European city in which to locate a business, (according to the European Cities Monitor conducted by Cushman & Wakefield) trailing only London, Paris and Frankfurt.
  • Barcelona is one of the most expensive cities not only in Spain, but also in Europe.
  • The main sectors that contribute to the emerging economy of Barcelona are tourism, fashion, power resources, media and food.
  • 25% of Spain’s total foreign investment is channeled to Catalonia, of which Barcelona is the capital.
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GGI Business Travel Tip Paris, France

by Ady Nordman

As summer hits Europe, Paris, the city of lights, is again welcoming millions of visitors to its charming streets, monuments, museums and restaurants.

I have had the pleasure of being in the capital of France a number of times in recent months and have decided to share some of my favourite places.

Paris’s charm comes from many things: its 20 different arrondissements, its vast variety of art and culture, such as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Cabaret dance, and its prominent monuments, including Gustave Eiffel’s tower. Paris’s unique park, the Bois de Boulogne, makes it the most densely wooded capital in Europe. The city’s history dates back to around 4500BC and its fine food is famous the world over. I would like to think that anyone can find their special place in Paris.


From my own professional perspective working in intellectual property, I am not sure how many people realise that the French invented, amongst other things, the bicycle, the pencil, the metric system, the taxi, the sewing machine, the electric iron, the battery, mayonnaise, lifesaving blood transfusions, aspirin, antibiotics, denim and polo shirts and, my personal favourite, champagne.

Recently I have eaten some great food and visited fabulous restaurants, some of which are listed below. Rest assured that each and every Parisian will also be happy to point you in the direction of their own favourite bistro, boulangerie, patisserie or brasserie.

Le GOUST Restaurant,  located at 10, rue Volney, 75002 Paris (tel. +33 (0) 1 40 15 20 30). The pulse of this wonderful place makes it good for a business lunch or dinner, but also for a romantic dinner. The concept is a great one: for every course, the team selects the wine and you do not discover what they selected until afterwards. They choose delectable wines from all over the world. Prices are mid-range given the venue (near place Vendome), the service, the portion size and the excellent food.

Just next door is the Bistrot Volnay, located at 10, rue Volney, 75002 Paris (tel. +33 (0) 1 42 61 06 65). It offers wonderful French bistro cooking with family-style service. Meat eaters must try their Tourte rustique de canard au foie gras, which is guaranteed to linger in their memory for a long time.

Aux Lyonnais Restaurant, located at 32, rue St Marc 75002 Paris (tel. +33 (0) 1 58 00 22 06) I knew nothing of Lyonnais food until I ran across this beautifully designed restaurant. In my opinion, the food is different and very good. I had a gathering with friends here and will definitely visit again when I have the chance.

One should not miss the French world renowned patisseries: the diet can be forgotten for that dayI am confident that you all will love La Patisserie des Rȇves. They have several locations in Paris – You must try their Paris-Brest which melts in your mouth. It is pricey but worthwhile…

Santé and bon appétit!

I wish you all a wonderful summer and, for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, a pleasant winter.


All the best, Ady

GGI member firm

Soroker – Agmon Advocates & Patent Attorneys
Law Firm
Herzliya, Israel
Ady Nordman

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This article is an excerpt from GGI Insider Issue #66.

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North America Developing Leaders | Best Practices Conferences, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 26-28 September 2013


The second North American Developing Leaders Conference will be held in Philadelphia from 26 to 28 September 2013, and will be hosted by GGI member firms Drucker & Scaccetti and Smart Devine.

The first conference of this kind was held in Boston in May and was a great success. The event brought together delegates from across the USA as well as from locations as far overseas as the United Kingdom and Asia. In addition to strong keynote presentations focusing on leadership, participants also had the opportunity to listen to and engage directly with a panel of managing partners on topics such as the value of a network and the work-life balance.

The Developing Leaders programme will run parallel to the first ever North American Best Practices Conference for Managing Partners and Firm Leaders. The keynote speaker sessions and social activities will be held together, whereas panels and roundtables will be held separately to promote stronger dialogue and engagement on common professional challenges.

The two keynote presentations will be delivered by Jane Scaccetti and Wayne Geisser on “The value of board service” and “Solving the mystery of the 1933 double eagle – the world’s most valuable coin”, respectively.

A panel of Developing Leaders who attended the Boston Conference in May will come together to deliver a presentation to their peers on “The challenges facing managers today”.

The Best Practices programme will provide an opportunity for managing partners and firm leaders to come together in the style of a roundtable to share challenges and build real strategies. Topics will cover “How to engage partners” as well as “Data privacy, security and state data breach laws”.

We are very much looking forward to you joining us for a successful joint North American Developing Leaders and Best Practices Conference in Philadelphia.

GGI members yet to register may still do so. Please use the online registration tool at (Member Login > Events). The detailed conference programme is also available on the website.

Join us on our official GGI social media pages: LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

This article is an excerpt from GGI Insider Issue #66.

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GGI German-Speaking Chapter Meeting to take place in Barcelona, Spain (20-22 September 2013)

This year’s GGI German-speaking chapter meeting will be held in Barcelona, Spain, on the weekend of 20 to 22 September. The event will be hosted by GGI member firms Ficesa Treuhand S.A., Auditores y Asesores Fiscales and Dr. Frühbeck Abogados S.L.P.


The audit and tax advisory firm Ficesa Treuhand S.A. was founded in 1982 in Madrid, and since its conception has specialised in services and advice for foreign companies, particularly from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. It currently has clients in a wide range of countries, and communicates with them in English, French, German and Spanish.

The law firm Dr. Frühbeck Abogados S.L.P. was founded by Dr. Guillermo Frühbeck in Madrid in 1952. Currently it is managed by Dr. Guillermo Frühbeck Olmedo. Since it was established, Dr. Frühbeck Abogados has been an organisation different to all others. They are pioneers of consultancy and have been conducive to the internationalisation of the markets. The term “international”, which is a problem or a challenge for some, has been the central focus of their daily work for more than 50 years. It is the essential part of their business philosophy. They take pride in their successes and continue with not only preserving, but improving the quality of their advice and the range of services they offer for all companies entrusting them with their confidence.

The programme starts on Friday 20 September with a welcome dinner in the conference hotel NH Calderon. Bernd F.W. Springer, Professor of German Philology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, has agreed to be the keynote speaker at this year’s GGI German-speaking chapter meeting in Barcelona. He will give a lecture on intercultural communication and draw on specific examples of deeply rooted cultural idiosyncrasies that are mostly to blame when a communication problem occurs between people of different domestic or international backgrounds. What do we need to watch out for? What influences our thoughts, feelings and behaviour without us realising? Which invisible factors play the most important part? How do the most common misunderstandings come about? Why is communication sometimes so difficult? Are the different mentalities in any way responsible for the current crisis in Europe?

Springer is the author of “Das kommt mir spanisch vor!” (“It’s all Spanish to me!”)

There will be a number of presentations on the Saturday. The event will bring German-speaking GGI members from different countries together and offers an ideal platform for identifying business opportunities and exchanging ideas, knowledge, experiences and views.

GGI members yet to register may still do so via the online registration tool at (Member Login > Events). The detailed conference programme is also available on the website.

Join us on our official GGI social media pages: LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

This article is an excerpt from GGI Insider Issue #66.

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GGI will have a say in Decision-Making Processes of the European Parliament


The European Committee approved GGI’s application for admittance just a few weeks ago. This will allow us to participate in the public consultations that shape the future of Europe, and will also prove important to us as an organisation.

This admittance allows participants to voice their opinions regarding policy issues on which the European Parliament passes decisions.

For GGI members and their clients this provides the opportunity of advocacy, which is only awarded to a limited number of alliances and institutions.

We may state our opinions on decisions made that concern the following topics:

  • Budget
  • Competition
  • Customs
  • Development
  • Economic and Financial Affairs
  • Energy
  • Enlargement
  • Enterprise
  • Environment
  • External Relations
  • Humanitarian Aid
  • Internal Market
  • Justice and Fundamental Rights
  • Regional Policy
  • Research and Technology
  • Taxation
  • Trade
  • Trans-European Networks
  • Employment and Social Affairs

We will regularly send the background documentation of all public debates, as well as the deadlines for submitting opinions, to all European GGI members.

We would like to request comments in writing to be sent via email to, keeping in mind the deadline.

First of all, we will summarise the opinions sent in. GGI Head Office will then forward them to the European Committee and the appropriate recipients in the European Parliament.

We will have the opportunity to express our views to the European Parliament regarding high profile issues.

For further information on open topics, visit:

GGI Head office

Zurich, Switzerland

Dr. Laszlo Tunyogi




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This article is an excerpt from GGI Insider Issue #66.

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Recap: GGI Leadership Forum in Eisenberg, Austria, 20-23 June 2013

The 2013 GGI Leadership Forum took place at the Eisenberg hotel in Eisenberg, Austria. More than 70 GGI Members attended the event and enjoyed the summer weather against the backdrop of the Austrian hills, a mere stone’s throw away from the Hungarian border.

The conference started on Thursday with an International Taxation Practice Group meeting chaired by Oliver Biernat. During the evening, participants enjoyed a welcome cocktail on the hotel terrace followed by a delicious dinner at the hotel restaurant, an elegant venue with a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape. During dinner, new GGI members and candidates attending the event were introduced by GGI’s CEO, Michael Reiss von Filski, before the day was rounded off at the hotel bar.

The Friday session started with a welcome speech delivered by GGI President and Founder, Claudio G. Cocca. This was followed with a presentation by GGI Social Media Manager Sophia Moon, in which she explained the new strategies that are being pursued via social media to enhance GGI brand awareness. The morning session also featured two workshops chaired by GGI honorary Vice President Oliver Rothschild and Dr. Karl Friedrich Dumoulin from FPS Fritze Wicke Seelig. Oliver Rothschild conducted a session on leadership and emotional intelligence, whilst Dr. Dumoulin’s workshop was on the characteristic features of different generations and how they influence working relationships.

After lunch at the hotel, keynote speakers John Caswell and Hazel Tiffany conducted their workshop. They used visual tools and techniques to challenge leadership abilities. The session was interactive and inclusive, giving attendees the opportunity to work as part of a team for three hours. This culminated in each team delivering a presentation at the end.

The programme for the afternoon featured two tasting tours, during which the delegates enjoyed local schnapps tastings at the Gölles Schnapps Distillery & Vinegar Production Factory and a delicious, flavoursome experience at the Vulcano Ham Factory. Dinner was later held at the Heurigenschenke zum Sterngucker, a beautiful venue with a full view of the valley.

The programme on Saturday morning commenced with the continuation of John Caswell and Hazel Tiffany’s presentation. The delegates were able to complete the work started the day before during the session, giving constructive answers to questions such as “In such a deeply connected world, what is your role and what are the top three requirements in ensuring the health of your network?” and “In this dynamic, chaotic and amazingly complex world, what are the biggest challenges you face within and beyond your industry?” John Caswell and Hazel Tiffany were able to develop an interesting framework from the answers provided by the attendees, explaining and demonstrating the results via visual tools that were set up around the conference room. The purpose of these sessions was to gain a new perspective and to “avoid solving the wrong problems well”. Further details on the session from John Caswell and Hazel Tiffany, including details on the results of the two sessions and visual representations of the attendees’ contributions, are available on the GGI website, where the GGI Manifesto is also published.

The afternoon session featured a series of teambuilding activities at the Adventure World, where the delegates were divided into small teams and practiced archery, drove tractors, excavators and go-karts, sawed wooden poles and enjoyed the relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

The conference ended with a midsummer’s eve barbecue at the hotel; a pleasant send-off with relaxing music, delicious food and exquisite wine. All attendees enjoyed themselves as the conference came to a successful end.

The next Leadership Forum will be hosted at the Eisenberg hotel once again from 19-22 June 2014; GGI is pleased to invite all members to this event for another enjoyable meeting.Image

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This article is an excerpt from GGI Insider Issue #66.

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Current Trends In Social Media

Written by: Sophia Moon, GGI Social Media & Marketing Manager

According to a recent Global Web Index study, the number of people accessing the internet via their mobile phones has increased 60.3% over the last two years to 818.4 million people, and continues to grow. The same study also found that the fastest growing age demographic on social media platforms is 45-64 years of age. Most small to medium-sized independent professional services firms have traditionally resisted social media, labelling it a passing fad, but recent studies are indicating that the rate of target segment professionals and C-level executives joining social media is rapidly increasing. To stay ahead of the curve, small and medium-sized professional services businesses are benefiting from re-evaluating the use of social media marketing as part of their business strategy.

With this in mind, this article will briefly give some current and relevant facts on four primary social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.


Facebook is currently the largest social media platform, with over 1.1 billion monthly active users and 665 million daily active users. Business profiles generally take on an informal tone on Facebook, make use of multiple images and photos, create discussions and entertain their followers, as the website is mostly social in nature. Facebook has more than 750 million mobile users, a number which is steadily increasing. As more and more people now tend to seek information on the go, it will become increasingly important for businesses to be present on mobile-ready sites, as well as having websites that are mobile responsive.

Twitter is a micro-blogging social media platform, which means that all posts are the size of a single SMS message, 140 characters long. For this reason, Twitter is best used for sharing news, real time updates, and links to more information (articles, blog posts, press releases, etc.) Twitter currently has 288 million monthly active users, and the fastest growing demographic is between 55-64 years of age, which has demonstrated a 79% growth rate since 2012. Businesses are primarily using Twitter to share news relevant to their industry, promotional offers and time sensitive discounts, and to draw traffic to content on their company websites.

Google+ was met with much early scepticism, but has grown to be the second largest social network with 359 million monthly active users. It is not quite the professional platform that LinkedIn is, but it is also not as informal and social as Facebook. The fastest growing age bracket in Google+ is 45-54 years of age.

LinkedIn is the professional social media platform, largely used by individual members to find jobs and opportunities and for companies to seek talent and fill positions. Company profiles are a great way to build brand awareness and to share updates. Joining groups allows members to connect with other professionals in an industry and to create dialogue around industry-specific updates/news. LinkedIn recently surpassed their 200 million user mark, and on average, two new users join every second.

GGI has an active and strong presence on all four platforms mentioned above, utilising them as information distribution channels. All GGI members can make use of GGI’s strong presence by staying connected with fellow GGI member firms, prospective member firms and GGI Head Office. By sharing valuable contents and company updates on social media platforms, overall brand awareness can be strengthened and key decision makers can be reached.

Join us on our official GGI social media pages: LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

This article is an excerpt from GGI Insider Issue #66.

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