As the founder of virtual offices technology, I want to introduce a member who recently adopted TaxConnections Virtual Offices. Olivier Wagner is an example of a new phenomenon – a professional living an entirely digital, nomadic lifestyle. As you follow this series, you will discover a new world coming into our vision; a world of working through Virtual Offices. Olivier Wagner will take us with him traveling the world utilizing our technology to grow his tax services business.
Our innovative technology brings Virtual Offices to professionals and small businesses worldwide, while allowing them the freedom to travel. Enjoy taking this trip with Olivier Wagner as he travels around the world working from a Virtual Office and attracting new business through TaxConnections.
(Access Part I of The Tax Digi-Nomad Series)
Allow me to introduce myself as Olivier Wagner. Although I grew up in France, my dreams were always to get away. As a child, I would listen to short wave radio before the Internet was open to public use. I would get excited about the traditional Japanese stories told on NHK World, or listen to Radio Canada International. I loved video games and I would buy British magazines with a disk attached (for Amiga Commodore). My best memories related to a world away from where I grew up having an obsession with Brazil as a teenager. Growing up, I knew that France was not my home. I was seeking a place to call home and for a while that place was New York and more generally the United States.
In 2001, I arranged by myself to have a job in a theme park in Ohio (Cedar Point). It felt otherworldly, I was out of Europe, on my own. Things that I would be blazed over now felt magical (Elephant Ear anyone).
In 2004, I studied in Louisiana for a year and shortly after I started working for Moody’s in New York. I saw the last remains of it being akin to an academic institution with research being done to find the best grade. The experience provided more camaraderie and more employee benefits. As the financial crisis approached, it continued to become more of an investment bank (this is a process which started with it becoming a public company, it predated all of that). With few other places in the job market to go to, the change became noticeable. We can all relate to the work days which ended at midnight (after which the subways run much less frequently), the feeling of not being heard, or feeling unimportant, unable to be the master of one’s own destiny.
As the workplace became less hospitable, I started to dream of permanent travel. I first became an armchair traveler, reading numerous travel books 1. I wanted to become a permanent traveler myself, become the master of my own destiny. After a few ventures, I realized that many had an IT or artistic dimension. I didn’t see myself being able to continue in finance being a one person show. Having passed the first 2 levels of the CFA exam at that point, tax preparation as a career was the field which matched my skillset as well as the ability to work remotely.
In 2011, my then-wife completed her PhD and got a job in Montreal. In retrospect it would have been a great time to make the jump, leaving the corporate world and leaving my wife. I did quit my job, leaving the corporate world. I would have wanted my then-wife to be part of the journey – sometimes projecting our own ideas onto others cause us to not see what they truly want. Of course, it was also an excuse to stay within a safe zone, refusing the call into an uncertain world.
In 2012, I became an Enrolled Agent and I started 1040 Abroad, in a fairly modest fashion. After starting a website, a client from Switzerland found me online and the word-of-month caused me to have a small cluster of clients there.
In 2014, I joined Richter, which is a large public accounting firm as far as Montreal is concerned, and developed my U.S. tax knowledge there. I am very grateful for the people in their U.S. tax department who helped me deepen my knowledge. The team spirit is something I had not experienced since 2006.
While it was a better work environment, I was still an employee and did not have control of my work schedule or my work location. I might have stayed had it been my first job but the calling was there for me. On December 12, 2015, I resigned and very logically, I divorced my then-wife shortly afterwards.
Two weeks prior, I was fortunate to have had coffee with John Richardson and did not imagine that this would lead to the collaboration we had since. I am very grateful for having John Richardson (another TaxConnections Member) as an ally as this journey would not have been possible without him.
Shortly after I resigned from the public accounting firm I already had clients and was on a roll saving the world one tax return at a time. I immediately enjoyed the ability to work on my own terms, on my own schedule. I was running in the cold Quebec winters to get ready for the day, working later. More generally having the freedom to be myself. I had some misguided marketing attempts on Twitter but the world was full of possibilities and with it came the difficulty of actually making a choice. I have found that overcoming fears was a large part of this journey.
One such fear was that I was sending a paper copy of the tax returns, limiting myself. I feared what clients would think if I did not provide a paper copy of my returns they would be unhappy with the tax service and arranged with a NY CPA to provide paper copies; however, my clients were happy with my services so this is when paperless copies became an acceptable way of conducting business. I stayed in North America until August 2015 at which point the Dynamite Circle sold tickets to their DCBKK event taking place in October 2015. I booked it and attended my first Dynamite Circle which is a chamber of commerce of sorts for digital nomads. The DCBKK is their main annual gathering and it is a lot of fun because immediately feel like you are a part of a big family. It felt as if I was crossing some sort of professional and personal threshold. I was now surrounded by people on the same adventure traveling the world and working. For the tax season 2016, I found my routine in Bangkok while enjoying both the comfort of knowing how things work. Thailand was an exotic experience that had not been on my radar and enjoyed this new environment, visiting tigers, enjoying new foods and newfound freedom.
Along this journey, I met several absolutely outstanding people who helped me to come this far as now a published author and a founder of a growing accounting firm. Since the 2016 tax season, my workload quadrupled requiring me to hire my first employees. It has not been without small setbacks but I am proud to say that now the 1040 Abroad Team is full of self-driven and highly motivated individuals passionate about taxes and working from different places around the world. It was the biggest challenge as an employer was to find skillful and dedicated employees equally passionate about taxes, independent enough to work from their own locations and provide high quality tax services which is the most important. My digital tax nomad lifestyle has had a recurring theme of overcoming fears and I have grown a great deal from every experience.
In November 2016 as I was in the Entrepreneur House where I first met Gregory who helped me publish my book: “U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans: The Traveling Expat’s Guide to Living, Working, and Staying Tax Compliant Abroad” you can purchase at Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/U-S-Taxes-Worldly-Americans-Traveling-ebook/dp/B01N6PAE5Y/
The adventurous dreams of my youth are now possible with the disruptive technology provided by TaxConnections Virtual Office.
I just attended an Activated Man event in Escondido, California where I released more personal development fears and now I am writing this article from seat 2A on flight UA1035 to Quito for some more personal development. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if I may be of assistance to you in doing your tax return.
– “Adventure Capitalist” by Jim Rogers
– “Moods of Future Joys: Around the World by Bike Part One” & “Thunder & Sunshine” by Alastair Humphrey
– “A million miles in a thousand years: Life’s a story, make sure you pick the right one” by Donald Miller
– “One people one planet” by André Brugiroux
Olivier Wagner- Tax Advisor- 1040Abroad.com
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