Solo Group aims to be ‘one-stop shop’
Marco Montarsolo's surname means “climbing alone” in Italian, and he is enjoying doing just that running his new business Solo Group of Companies.
Previously he was managing director at BeesMont Law Ltd with Sharon Beesley.
“I do feel like this is a time to be on my own,” he said. “Since I was 25 I have worked with large teams.”
Based on the third floor of Sofia House on Church Street, Solo Group has several companies under its umbrella.
“Solo Legal is a law firm which will be a small niche corporate law firm which will do some insurance work,” he said. “Then there will be Solo IP which will do trademarks and registration in Bermuda and the Caribbean.
“Solo Capital is the management company which will do independent directorships and economic substance work. Then we will do some brokerage work buying and selling businesses.”
He also has BM Corporate Services, a corporate administration company he started 12 years ago, formerly known as BeesMont Corporate Services.
“I have expanded on my existing corporate admin and legal knowledge to create a group of companies that can assist clients with a holistic approach to their business in terms of soup to nuts,” he said. “That is everything from your annual filings to your annual general meetings, to your meetings to your board of directors, to any economic substance, to any management issues you may need help with.
“That includes finding expertise in Bermuda you may need. Whether it be for valuations, or insurance, we can put you in touch with anyone you need. We are here to support your business as a one-stop shop.”
He wants to take a more holistic approach to client care.
“I want to partner with our clients and provide a more robust spectrum of services so they can just pick up the phone and call me any time,” he said. “They can concentrate on business while we help them in the background.”
Mr Montarsolo has wanted to do something that took care of the wider interests of clients for some time. He feels that full service law firms can be great for larger clients, but smaller clients can get confused about where to go for certain services.
“We don't want to pretend to be experts in everything, but we have very good relationships with other people, so we are happy to reach out to other people,” he said. “We can also help with discounted rates, and so forth.”
Clients range from medium-sized construction companies, service providers and accounting firms to exempt companies, investment holding companies or companies based in Bermuda that are trading globally.
“These are pretty interesting because these are some of the companies that will fall under economic substance,” he said. “They will need more infrastructure in Bermuda. We are also looking to partner with professionals who can provide independent directorships. Again we are looking at ourselves as the person who can facilitate the introductions.”
Economic substance rules, brought in to address European Union concerns over multinational enterprises using shell companies in low-tax jursdictions to avoid taxes, took effect this year. One of the major challenges with economic substance is that it comes with “regulation on steroids”, Mr Montarsolo said.
“With economic substance we were supposed to have done all the filings by June 30, but Covid-19 has delayed that,” he said. “We will have to see how that pans out next year.
“In many ways it could be an opportunity for Bermuda, but some clients, we have seen, thought it was not worth staying in Bermuda for that purpose.”
Mr Montarsolo said Covid-19 has been hard on some medium-sized local law firms.
He said: “Because I have the book of business through the corporate service provider and my own clients it is not so bad. It makes me more flexible.
“At this time in my life it is a good opportunity for me to focus on my core clients and building that book of business. I see a lot of opportunity, as there will be a lot of consolidation because of the regulation and because it is very difficult for the smaller corporate service providers.”
He said his business has put a lot of time and energy into technology and designing a platform to handle multiple different regulatory requirements.
“There are lots of data calls we get,” Mr Montarsolo said. “We get them from the Bermuda Monetary Authority and the Bermuda Bar Association. We are working on ways of automating those data calls so that we can collect the information in a more efficient way.
“But it is a huge investment. In order to survive you have to do that. There are going to be fewer and fewer players. For me it is good to carve out a little niche. It gives me the chance to allocate my assets where I need to.”
He said there are a lot of moving parts in setting up a business, but the Covid-19 lockdown gave him time to put his plans together.
“It has been a bit of a breather because we have seen a downturn in regular commercial activity,” he said. “It was a very good time to start something new and dedicate the resources to it. But it is a lot of work.”