The idea was born in the „romantic” 1990’s.
It was called romantic because there were no regulations, rules, professional bodies or
private sector related legislation, professionals used to work in an independent way, there was
no experience and talking about audit and accounting companies it was like an exotism, which existed somewhere but...not near by.
And maybe it will exist...but not during our lifetime.
The very few private companies were led by entrepreneurs whose last activity was double entery accounting. The decisions were...based on inspiration, or most of the good cases on the evidences from „the agenda.” They quickly understood that the Fisc is searching for reasons to fine and they addapted. They „took” accountant.
Some years after revolution, accounting was made on the basis of so named „cooperation agreements”, a sort of civil conventions which alloweded those who already had a job to complete their income. Because – most of them were working in finance-accounting departments of the state’s companies – they adapted what they already knew to the new realities.
Cristian Scafa made no exception. He had as much experience as others romanian entrepreneurs in the „private” sector...which means not at all.
Cristian Scafa graduated in 1985. The Bucharest University of Economic Studies – Finance-Accounting,
evening classes because he got married at 21, he took a house...payment in installments and the installments were high, especially monthly.
Consequently, beside school he had also a job...first he was unqualified worker in installation field, after that a plumber in heating machines, with attributions in verifying the functionning of the district heating in the Militari industrial platform. That is how he got knowing both people and factories. This resulted in being known and recommended, when graduated, to the Investments Bank (the actuel BRD). There he learned rigor...in knowing the legislation, in relations with others proffesionals and in working, regarding his own work. That’s how he got to appreciate and to be appreciated. At the age of 27 he was an authorized member of the Financial Control of the Superior Court, having tasks like financial preventive control in the heavy industry and a board member of the bank (COM – as it was called then). That’s how he learned what representativity and responsability means. That’a how he got being transfered to a central „divison”, with responsabilities regarding bookkeeping, financial preventive control and subsequent, funding targets and other actions. That’s how he became unemployed, when „his enterprise” was dissolved in1989.
It was obvious that in the 90s establishing a company was not in discussion.
The necessary social capital for havig your own company was 100.000 lei,
taking into account that the average salary of an ordinary accountant was 3.000 lei.
So he began bookkeeping for „privatized”, based on the cooperation agreements.
Only in 1992 he managed raise all the necessary amount for the social capital. Obviously, the headquarters was at home, there was no question about an office. So it is that on 18th January 1993, by care of the Lawyer Marincescu, it was registerded at the Trade Register the first entity from the group, obviously, with a minimum social capital of 100.000 lei.
Because the new trading company had to have a name,
it was searched an easy to remember name, but not one with an obvious accounting meaning
. Soter derives from the greek epithet Σωτήρ, wich means on one hand “the saviour” and on the other hand this is the pseudonym of the Alexandru Macedon’s general,
the later founder of the aegiptian Ptolemeus dinasty, who also built the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
Playing with words and senses we could think of a savior lighthouse…and yes…Mister Soter does not exist although he is very popular :).
For one year the entity functioned at home and first clients were the companies within the Elinco group, where he worked as a Chief Accountant for the past two years. This group of companies was one of the most importants actors in PC industry in Romania, in the ’90s. Having the permission to access the computers of this group, as a Chief Accountant, Cristian SCAFA tested on the new 286 machines, freshly imported from USA, the core of the accounting programs, a core invented by himself and which was later to be registered as CONTAS. Being a dedicated program for accounting services providers, this permitted the simultaneous processing of more units, meaning more clients…but, who were not clamoring to appear…
In 1993, The Ministry of Finance decides to change the accounting system enherited from communists and to implement the new accounting system, including a new chart of accounts, coppied from French. These being the purpose, the Finance Ministry, through the Advisory Accounting Board, approved the organizing specialized courses, trough these the old regime’s accountants were supposed to be informed with capitalists models of evidence. This was an opportunity and Soter S.R.L. took the authorization to organize this kind of courses. In 1994, in the first couple of months of the year managed to organize – together with the Ministry of Finance’s lectors – some sessions of courses, from which were raised about 8.000.000 lei. The amount turned out to be very important for the economic life of the company, not as a value, but because for the first time, were created the premises to rent an office and to leave the sphere of “apartment firms”. Taking into account the currency value back then and also the rental value in a central area, the amount had to be sufficient for 6 months.
So, on first January 1994, Soter S.R.L. is renting two rooms – at about 20 square feet inside Institute for Designing of Centrocoop, situated in Mendeleev no 28-30, near Romana Square from Bucharest - where he installs three offices for the first collaborators and where he pays the rent, in advance for the next six months, hoping to find enough clients to pay the collaborators and the monthly rent. At the moment, the company is functioning in the same building, but nowadays the rented space is covering 4 floors and the basement and the collaborators are more or less about 70. Now, in those two initial offices there is no professional activity, one of them is a meeting room and the other is a kitchen.
An important event, as much important for Soter & Partners’ future was the registration of Soter S.R.L. in Octobre 1994 in the Chamber of Expert Accountants and Authorized Accountants, creating the premises for providing professional accounting services in a specific, modern framework, unfortunately less used at that time. In this way, Soter S.R.L. becomes one of the few accountancy companies with Romanian capital.
If nationally, Soter becomes a well known entity in the ’90s, international recognition comes only in 1998, when Michael McInnes - international liaison for the British Moore Stephens Group – visits Bucharest in search of a “partner”, able to represent the group’s interests in Romania. After a working visit at Soter’s headquarters in Mendeleev it became clear that the two entities’ representants have same interests, not only when speaking of professional field, but also when speaking about other areas of activity, less „accounting like”. Michael McInnes is vicecomodor for the largest club of yachting from England and as any other British he has a „national weakness” for horses. Empathy and trust. Soter S.R.L. becomes a correspondent company for Moore Stephens International. It will remain like this until 2010, when Moore Stephens makes pressures that Soter S.R.L. to become a member with full rights and obligations. Meanwhile, Soter S.R.L. had become an important link inside Soter & Partners and Soter & Partners decided to remain a Romanian accounting company.
Regarding the partnerships, Cristian Scafa understood that the romantic ages were at their end and that in order to survive as a company, first of all, it must diversify the range of services offered to clients. On the other hand, it is necessary to restructure the company’s management, so as to give up the single person lead, a person with “factotum” status, in favor of a partnership, able to create functional departments…to bring ideas…and solutions. First partnership attempt was outlined in the late 90s, a partnership called Soter & Man-Co and benefited of Mr Ioan Manole’s experience, an exceptional professionist. But, the partnership has functioned in different offices and could not develop along all functional departments, especially when their diversification needed the presence of a quotidian management.
Partnerships based on a systematic participation in providing services and sharing decisions and responsabilities began after 2000 and revolutionized customer and internal relations. In fact, that is how Soter & Partners was born. It started with a specialization course, where Cristian Scafa met Dan Manolescu.
He came in 1996 in practice to Soter in the second year of college. He enjoied. After graduating, he specializes in taxes…at KPMG. He was the first partner who decided to leave a corporation and trying to build a Romanian brand in this field and he did it. He becomes a Doctor in Economics in 2006. As a measure of recognition he is chosen vice president of the Chamber of Fiscal Consultants in 2010 and in 2013 he is proposed to coordinate the drawing up of legislation regarding accounting and fiscal regulation and tax policy issues, as a Secretary of State in the Romanian Finance Minister. He accepts and he gets involved in restructuring and modernizing of the Fiscal Code and the Fiscal procedure Code.
Came in Soter in 1996. Student. First time she was interested in Soter programs. After that she understood the need for modernization in exercising a profession. She felt that in the current competitive system is not possible without a sustained growth of labour productivity based on computerization and automation.
Came as a partner of audit department in 2001, recommended by Dan Manolescu…who guaranteed for her…and he was not wrong.She brought a lot of professionalism and healthy principles in a branch where “Soter-icii” were at their beginning and she also brought a lot of enthusiasm, team spirit and concern for people.
Comes in 2001. Also a student. She proved that a young professional can affirm in a field – accouting – where it is considered that only long experience gives you the right to have an opinion. She proved that through involvement and perseverance she can lead a department where the work experience varies from 1 to 30 years. And, as to confirm it, she graduates in 2009 Executive MBA.
He joins the group in 2006, with a vast working experience in almost all Romanian profile corporations. Specialization in a particular field: Expatriates. He was the first one who intuited and consistently promoted new ways of approaching the relationship manager-client. He opened new horizons, not only in the area of concerns that few had the courage to approach, but also into new geographical areas. He founded the extension of the group in Moldova.
From 1993 until now, Soter & Partners collaborated - in various forms – with over 300 professionals. Together we built a name…and a reputation.