My apologies but due to technical reasons, as they say, this is the first and last newsletter of the year (2017).

Despite the lack of a newsletter we have had the most successful year yet, with three very successful technical days and two excellent networking dinners finished off with our annual dinner. With record attendances and very high quality speakers I would like to place on record my thanks to all the committee for all their hard work. The bar has now been set very high for 2018.

Looking back, our year began with our March technical day at the new, futuristic and Eco-friendly offices of AkzoNobel. A special thanks to Lindsey Sanders, our Treasurer, who made the whole thing possible. With an attendance of more than 100 and with superb speakers this set the standard for the rest of the year.

Whilst on a slightly smaller scale, our annual visit to the offices of the NBA in June was no less inspiring, with some very interesting speakers, especially the two sessions on Emotional Intelligence with Jenni Rose. It's surprising what you learn about yourself at these presentations!

In May we held our annual networking dinner at the Hotel School in Amsterdam. We were extremely grateful to Robert van der Jagt, the chairman of the KPMG tax committee, who gave us an update on the practical issues around Brexit and what companies needed to be planning for. I have no doubt we shall be calling upon Robert again as the details of the discussions emerge. Many of us work for companies with operations in the UK and only now are the consequences of Brexit starting to become clear. It will affect many of us in ways we have yet to imagine.

One effect is the implications for our professional qualifications. As yet it has not reached the agenda of the politicians and I suspect will not rank high on their list of priorities. So far the UK bodies have been acting behind the scenes with politicians both in the UK and Brussels. At the moment I can add no more than what you may have heard from your own respective professional bodies. As soon as more information is available we will pass it on. However, some reassurance is that I do not think this is going to cause any of us any personal problems. What it may do going forward is reduce the opportunities to study for a UK or Irish professional qualification but we shall see!

At our June meeting we also held our AGM when we said goodbye to some committee members, Jeremy Weyman, Theng Vogels and Mateusz Kielar, and welcomed some new faces, Tanja Seydlitz & John Lee. (Sadly, John has since decided it's warmer in Bali, so has left us for the sun.) I would like to say a big thanks to those leaving us. Being on the committee is lots of fun but does require commitment, which sometime clashes with work. We also co-opted Rosemary Amato who has been an enthusiastic contributor for several years. Rosemary was instrumental in arranging our technical day at Deloitte’s state of the art zero-emissions building in 2015.

In September our technical day at the Mercure Hotel reviewed the Dutch budget during an active day of speakers on a wide variety of topics. This was followed in October by one of the most fascinating networking events we have ever had, when our dinner was addressed by the local CEO of Christie’s auction house, Mr Arno Verkade. He spoke with passion about his subject especially the question of fraud and fakes and speculated on the auction price of the impending sale of the Leonardo da Vinci painting, Salvator Mundi. His guess was a little low!!!

Finally, the year ended with our annual outing to the Royal Industrial Club in Amsterdam, where we welcomed the new British Ambassador, Mr Peter Wilson and our guest speaker, Mr Han de Jong, the Chief Economist of ABN AMRO. Over the years we have heard several economists, each one of whom has been brilliant. Mr de Jong was no exception, giving us a whistle-stop tour of the state of the world economy. He declared that 2017 was a "Goldilocks" year when all the stars were aligned so everyone should be having a good year. He also declared Brexit a “b..... disaster”!

On a personal note, I would like to take this opportunity to place on record my thanks to Sir Geoffrey Adams, the British Ambassador who left the Netherlands in the summer after 4 years. Sir Geoffrey was a breath of fresh diplomatic air and was prepared to speak his mind, albeit always diplomatically! We wish his successor, Mr Peter Wilson, all the best in what will be challenging times.

Finally, with the Christmas holidays almost upon us, it only remains for me to wish you a happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous 2018. I look forward to welcoming you to our next technical day on 20 March.

Stephen