‘I understand that being an owner manager can be an isolating task,’ Jeff Hartstone tells Spear’s. ‘I act as a sounding board for clients’ worries, queries and ambitions, fostering trust and loyalty. Absolute trust and confidentiality are key.’ Hartstone is one of BKL’s longest-standing partners, with more than 30 years’ experience in the private client world. He has served as managing partner and senior partner. ‘I’ve helped to lead the firm through many economic changes and ambitious periods of growth,’ he says. He has a treasure trove of insights to help his clients, who are made up of high-growth clients, largely from the real estate world.
Welcome to the Spear’s Indices
Each issue of Spear’s Magazine contains an exclusive Index prepared by the experts at the Spear’s Research Unit identifying the very best providers of professional services to the high net worth audience. Comprehensive, authoritative and indispensible, these are the definitive lists of the top HNW advisers in Britain working in property, family law, wealth management, tax and trust, alternative assets and reputation management. Once a year the Indices are updated and expanded to form the core of the Spear’s 500, the bible of HNW advisers. Go to the drop down menu below for the latest indices of top professionals from the Spear’s Research Unit
Tax and Trust Advisers 2020
‘Incredibly, we managed to maintain momentum,’ Paul Ayres tells Spear’s. Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, his department has seen ‘an exceptional performance’ in the past 12 months. ‘This was achieved following a Herculean effort to recreate the team culture across the 300-plus members of our private client services to ensure we stayed close to our clients and key referrers.’ Ayres oversees all manner of HNW affairs for BDO as head of national private client services. He spends the most time advising across the private client spectrum of issues, from complex structures, offshore, to trusts and wealth planning. His clients are mainly entrepreneurs, who approach him for assurance on their tax obligations associated with everything from domicile and residence issues to real estate transactions in London. BDO’s 2019 merger with Moore Stephens made it the UK’s largest accountancy and business advisory firm focused on mid-sized, entrepreneurially spirited businesses. […]
‘Our work continues regardless,’ says Robert Brodrick, carrying a soothing sense of stability during his catch-up with Spear’s despite the pandemic. ‘What we’re dealing with is [a mix of] personal matters that concern human relationships, and things that really aren’t always linked to the economy,’ he says. When private clients are ‘feeling vulnerable’, they scrutinise their personal affairs and pick up their phone to trusted advisers like him. However, market volatility has also concerned Brodrick’s financially sophisticated clients, who were reviewing portfolios and considering gifting options since valuations fell across sectors. Brodrick, a fixture in our top ten, relishes his role as chair of Payne Hicks Beach’s management board – a position of considerable eminence in his field. But he is still very much client-facing, and his practice continues to include a Middle Eastern specialism. When asked about the mobility of international HNWs, he says ‘the rules are now so […]
Jonathan Burt’s practice has ‘somewhat expanded’ at Harbottle & Lewis since the arrival of contentious trusts expert and joint litigation head Sofie Hoffman from Edmonds Marshall McMahon in February. ‘I’ve seen the expansion of the ambit of what I can do over trust disputes and 1975 [Inheritance] Act claims,’ he says. A former managing director of Barclays’ trust companies, Burt is a deft hand at analysing the impact of varying factors on his clients. ‘My clients are looking for pragmatic and practical solutions to the efficient structuring of their investments,’ he explains. ‘Getting clients to understand the outcome of a complicated area of the law like tax is a rare skill.’
Even clients with access to private jets are still reluctant to travel, reports affable Farrer partner Russell Cohen. ‘They’re sitting at home, talking to their loved ones, their family offices – and they’re getting on with things.’ That means meetings which might have previously been scheduled four weeks in advance in, say, Zurich, can take place immediately. ‘Now,’ says Cohen, ‘it’s a case of “Let’s have a call tonight”.’ Increasingly, he says, ‘Clients understand that life’s not about avoiding tax.’ That’s just as well, since the UK government faces a challenge if it’s to balance the public finances. ‘I don’t think they’ll do that with austerity,’ says Cohen. ‘I think they’ll do it with taxes – and I don’t think there’ll be anyone lining up to defend the wealthy from these taxes. ‘I also think there will be a renewed appetite for transparency. I don’t think the post-pandemic world will […]
Jonathan Conder is one of the longest-standing partners at Macfarlanes. His role is dedicated to developing the international tax and trust arena for the business in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, but with the Far East as a focus for expansion. ‘I act for individuals, trustees and families where there is a cross-border element,’ says Conder. ‘The bulk of my practice is for people whose homes, assets or families are partly in one jurisdiction and partly in one or more others. More often than not they have a UK connection.’ His clients are typically entrepreneurial first-generation wealth creators, but he has been in the business long enough to see clients through the process of passing on their wealth to children. Conder is helping one family office change jurisdiction – a decision driven not by price, but by reputation and disclosure. ‘There is a flight to quality,’ he says. […]
Ashley Crossley’s UHNW business clients are normally worth at least $400 million and often have a Middle Eastern connection. He advises them on extracting and investing funds, and occasionally on personal matters such as yachts. Crossley remains calm over the current economic situation. ‘It would not be sensible to increase the tax burden at the moment,’ he says. ‘The government may have to level up National Insurance for self-employed people, but I’m not expecting any significant tax rises.’ Nor does he detect any attack on the res-non-dom regime. ‘The UK will not want to put off entrepreneurs and businesses investing here through those types of arrangements,’ he says.
Victor Dauppe has one simple purpose: to help people structure their affairs. ‘Simple’ being the optimal word: he believes that structuring has shifted over the years, from being an exercise in craftiness to leaning on a mantra of ‘straightforward, but effective’. ‘It’s all about openness, because it’s just so painful emotionally and financially to get involved in Revenue enquiries. You’re better off trying to do it right in the first place,’ he says. He believes we are in a transitional period, and in a tax landscape where ‘the biggest worry that [he] can see is the idea that you’re going to have to explain everything’ to a ‘belligerent’ HMRC, he welcomes the ‘move to openness’. ‘The advent of DAC 6, which is the disclosure requirement for all sorts of international transactions, means that there is nowhere to hide these days. And you don’t want to hide; you want your affairs […]
Mark Davies has described himself as the ‘energy business’ of the offering at his eponymous firm. ‘It’s my job to energise the team to excel in our core values,’ he has previously told Spear’s. ‘We aim to be the boutique of choice for UHNWs, attracting the best talent to work with us – including staff in the management of the firm.’ Davies founded the firm in 2007 to focus on a clientele of mainly entrepreneurs and UK-resident non-doms to provide tax advice on complex structures – especially with offshore trusts and companies. The firm has since grown into a team of specialists, many of whom are themselves non-doms. ‘We are a firm of chartered tax advisers focused exclusively on individuals, trustees and their advisers,’ he has said of the boutique. ‘Most people do not know the difference between tax planning, tax avoidance and tax evasion – and neither does the […]
It’s close to a year since Sophie Dworetzsky’s move from Withers to Charles Russell Speechlys, and Spear’s checks in to see how she’s faring. ‘I’m really pleased,’ she enthuses, confirming that she continues to work with an international and commercial private client base, largely made up of entrepreneurs, business owners and high-performing fund managers. Joining the firm has unlocked a new specialism for her too, as she has been focusing on family office structuring ‘in greater depth and detail’. The dynamic tax landscape has made Dworetzsky highlight a number of important issues HNWs must consider before setting up a family office. ‘Think about the tax efficiency from both an ownership stake and from a remuneration stake – how will the [managers] be incentivised? Will it be standard salary and bonus or will it be a carry structure?’ Meanwhile, she points out the possibility of tax rises in the near future […]
A mainstay of the Spear’s indices over the years and one of the most recognisable names in the world of tax, Ceris Gardner is as well equipped as anyone in the industry when it comes to issues of immigration and philanthropy. Spear’s catches up with Gardner over the phone, where she reports that the transition to working from home has gone ‘beautifully’. Like many in the profession, she notes that the onset of lockdown brought with it a raft of work on wills and lasting power of attorney. ‘That was the start of the whole thing, and then it sort of morphed into people settling into meeting after meeting on Zoom,’ she says with a laugh. One of the effects Covid-19 might have, she adds, is people thinking more about estate planning: ‘This has been a real scare to people of all ages.’ Gardner is also seeing pent-up demand from […]
Andrew Goldstone established Mishcon de Reya’s formidable tax and wealth planning group more than 15 years ago, and he continues to lead its tax group and advise on all aspects of UK and offshore matters. ‘Our associates are busier than ever,’ he tells Spear’s. ‘People are sorting out their personal affairs and there’s still no shortage of demand from international clients.’ An expert on philanthropy and charitable trusts, Goldstone has seen a ‘continuing flow’ of new instructions to set up charities over the lockdown period. ‘Those with money are increasingly seeing what good they can do with it because they’re seeing the need,’ he says.
‘The accountancy world over the last 20 years has become more automated,’ says Ben Grist. ‘Where you can add value for clients is areas like tax, because everyone feels very personal about tax.’ Add value he does. Grist has become a general adviser for HNW clients, on everything from simple filings to estate planning and more complex questions. ‘I like it because it means you’re dealing directly with clients,’ he says. ‘You start off just talking about taxes, and that brings in lots of questions about how families work, how wealth gets passed down… You go above and beyond the technical question of “what’s my tax bill?”. And that’s what I love to do, speak to real people.’
‘I act for a range of high and ultra-high net worth UK and international clients,’ says James Heathcote. He started the specialised Private Client Advisory department at Lancaster Knox in 2019, ‘with few clients, but big ambitions to create a dynamic and differentiated offering’. Heathcote has advised ‘some of the largest, most influential and most recognisable names in the private client world’, ranging from business owners to landed estates. Many of his clients come from bigger firms, seeking a more tailored and director-led approach. ‘We’ve far exceeded all our expectations,’ he says of the department, adding that it is on track to expand in 2021 and enjoy ‘a really strong second year’.
James Hender has advised a broad client base of financial services workers and the first-generation wealthy for many years now. ‘[Clients] tend to be UK-based people; they tend to be domiciled people. It’s those high-end, wealthy families and their business interests,’ he says. Hender says he has observed four or five years’ worth of change in the last few months because of digitisation, due in no small part to the coronavirus pandemic: ‘In terms of how we operate, how we interact with clients and how our clients want to be interacted with, we’ve speeded up.’ ‘The trick is to keep delivering excellent client service in a new way,’ he adds. ‘Clients are looking to have highly efficient, costeffective compliance with leading advisory people who say, “OK, I’ve seen this before and I understand what is best for you in your circumstances.”’ Advisory services are only going to become more valuable […]
‘It’s all about succession planning, estate planning, preparing families for change,’ Catherine Hill tells Spear’s of the work that’s been keeping her busy over lockdown. A partner in Forsters’ private client team, Hill devises holding structures for family wealth and establishes family investment companies. Her personal interest in the subject and referred clients led her to act for ‘significant’ landed estates of artists and collectors in a sector that carries unique nuances in such matters. ‘Whether it’s advice or copyright or help setting up business structures, it’s turned into a real industry,’ she says. ‘It’s probably the fastest-growing part of my business.’
‘I’m definitely a lifer at this point in time,’ jokes Alison Hill as she describes her 22-year career at PwC. The engaging partner is at the forefront of the Big Four firm’s private client services. Hill sits in a 100-strong team that focuses on large international families and business owners who have a London nexus. Half this team concentrates primarily on private individuals. ‘[Our structure] is increasingly to our clients’ benefit – we do cover that full spectrum. We’re not just looking after them as individuals but we can also help them look after their businesses,’ she explains. Hill herself does not have a jurisdictional focus when it comes to her practice, but has found herself working more closely with the company’s European ‘private wealth network’ in recent years. She’s seen a ‘positive shift’ in people’s attitude to tax over the years, and has seen increased engagement between her team […]
Rawlinson & Hunter partner Paul Huggins counts everyone from hedge fund managers to Formula One racers as clients, whom he gives ‘specific bespoke advice’ on a broad range of tax matters. A specialist in the UK’s statutory residence test, remittance basis users and the taxation of ‘mixed funds’, he heads up the firm’s London department and its employment solutions team. ‘My strongest attribute is being able to translate complex advice into simple material that a client can digest,’ says Huggins. He aims for ‘simplicity and clarity’ when advising clients – no mean feat given the UK’s ‘incredibly complex’ tax system, which is ‘changing on a fairly regular basis’.
Alice Killingbeck’s career was straight out of the gate after qualifying. She started at Barclays Wealth, where she became interested in the Middle Eastern market. ‘The idea is to provide integrated multidisciplinary advice to HNW and UHNW clients,’ she says. However, this year all private client practitioners found themselves in a completely unforeseen situation. Throughout the pandemic, Killingbeck has seen surges in wills and estate planning, and themes such as philanthropy also came to the fore. ‘Clients have been more keen than ever to enshrine their values in robust legal governance frameworks,’ she says.
‘There is a good argument to be made that the UK tax system has completely revolutionised itself in the last ten years,’ says David Kilshaw. ‘We’ve gone from a structure that was very tax planning-focused, and we are now in a world of needing to be very cautious. So I think that’s been a big change.’ Kilshaw believes it’s vital that tax professionals are aware of the concerns that the public or the press – and clients – may have about tax and wealth structuring. However, in a world of enhanced compliance such concerns are less pressing, as offshore centres are now ‘highly regulated’ and ‘focused on doing things properly’. ‘They have an extremely professional message,’ says Kilshaw. ‘They are now marketing themselves and therefore competing on who is the most polished, when in years gone by they may have been competing around entry status.’ Other changes forecast by Kilshaw […]
The straight-talking Sue Laing provides succession and tax planning advice to HNW families, particularly in private businesses and UK landed estates. ‘This is going to hurt,’ she says of the fallout from coronavirus. ‘I don’t think anybody expects anything other than rises in tax. Inheritance tax and capital gains tax are a very small part of the overall tax take, so some people think it won’t go up. I think it would be politically almost impossible for the chancellor not to raise those rates.’ International planning has become more complex, but ‘you can still achieve long-term tax savings, and you can still devolve your assets in the way you want to’.
‘I place great emphasis on getting to know what each family needs and what will be appropriate and flexible for them in the future,’ says Caroline Le Jeune in her mission statement. She has overseen succession planning advisory at BDO and specialised in chartered tax advisory at PwC for a decade. A qualified solicitor, she joined Blick Rothenberg in 2014, where she now focuses on international families. Le Jeune helps HNWs structure offshore assets and find the best tax jurisdictions should the need to move arise. Her specialisms include onshore and offshore trusts, tax issues that arise from separation, divorce and family disputes, as well as intergenerational planning
Greg Limb heads up KPMG’s private client team, where he operates in landscapes of ‘tremendous wealth creation’, with HNW clients in the Middle East, Russia, the US and Europe. Limb, who had a stint as an adviser to HMRC during his 25-plus years in tax, became a partner at KPMG in 2008, having joined in 1997. Clients include individuals, family offices, entrepreneurs and private equity advisers, whom he advises on personal tax issues. He also advises a ‘large range’ of UK and non-UK trusts and their beneficiaries on UK tax affairs, playing an ‘instrumental’ role in the creation of many of them. Renowned for his proactive and innovative approach to tackling tax planning, Limb focuses on ‘the ability to solve rather than create problems’. He has previously told Spear’s he is looking forward to the prospect of the ‘great wealth transfer’ to the next generation. Rather than simplifying the complexity […]
‘We have geopolitical risks in various pockets of the world at the moment, and that means that the UHNW community is thinking ever more carefully about structuring options,’ observes Piers Master, who’s received an influx of asset structuring enquiries recently, particularly from the Middle East. Master is a go-to adviser for a range of tax matters from trust to succession and estate planning. He leads the international group of Charles Russell Speechlys’ private wealth arm. He often asks clients to consider the matrimonial landscape of a country before migrating there. ‘I would ask what state their marriage is in, and they sometimes raise an eyebrow or two,’ he laughs.
‘In the financial crisis people were worried about losing their money. This time not only are they worried about losing their money, they’re also worried about losing their lives,’ Clare Maurice tells Spear’s. The highly personable Maurice is sage-like on issues of international tax and estate planning. Continuity planning, residence, passports, property assets, trusts and structures have all been on the minds of clients during lockdown. Several of these issues were prevalent before, she says, but Covid-19 has added a ‘slightly different lens’. ‘It’s fundamentally about what families want to achieve,’ she says. ‘And things like the pandemic bring this into sharp relief.’
Rosamond McDowell’s ‘mixed practice’ is about half onshore and half offshore, dealing with wealth, tax, death and planning-related issues. Her clients are global in their geography and eclectic in their backgrounds, but she does, she says, gravitate towards clients she gets on with personally. ‘My theory on private client work is that you end up advising people who get on with you and like you. It’s symbiotic,’ she says. As for Covid and the road ahead, McDowell doesn’t like to speculate. However, she ‘can’t imagine any government, whether it’s Tory or Labour, wanting to introduce a new tax just at the moment when everybody’s desperate for money to start flowing again’.
The personable and engaging David Mellor believes the tax code is overdue a major simplification. ‘I try hard to avoid jargon,’ he states. ‘We are dealing with complicated things. Clients have really got to understand what we are suggesting, getting to grips with it rather than just being accepting of the advice.’ Mellor has an acute understanding of what clients appreciate when it comes to achieving their objectives. This approach helps with complex issues in taxation, where he works especially on inheritance and capital gains tax, corporate tax and VAT. He is also an expert in advising renewable energy businesses operating in the UK.
‘I’m very lucky,’ says Patricia Milner of her ‘mixed practice’. She advises single and multi-family offices and professionals, most of whom have a UK connection. The Withers partner foresees changes. ‘A significant amount of finances are being pumped into the economy, which means that at some stage the current tax regime will have to change,’ she says. She has seen clients’ priorities shifting: ‘A focus on many families’ minds is succession planning. They are focusing very much on family and what is important to them.’ But it’s not all doom and gloom: ‘ESG investing has really gathered momentum in the last 12 months, and possibly even more so post-pandemic.’
The fall of Arthur Andersen in 2002 forged a fresh opportunity for several partners in its private client department to capitalise on its HNW specialism. The team, made up of 23 of the former Big Five company’s top partners, formed what is now known as Andersen Tax LLC, advising top entrepreneurs, business owners and ‘the early founders of some of the really big names in Silicon Valley’. The U.S.-based firm then formed Andersen Global, an international association of independent member firms providing services under the Andersen branding. ‘It grew very, very quickly,’ Julian Nelberg tells Spear’s. ‘Its private client business is probably 20 or 30 times the size of a Big Four’s.’ Nelberg, the firm’s UK head of private client, oversees a team that is entirely dual-qualified, to be able to help the company’s US client base with UK connections and business interests. He works very closely with Miles Dean, […]
A partner in Mishcon de Reya’s private client team and a visiting international law professor at King’s College London, Filippo Noseda is a man used to being at the cutting edge of his profession. He is currently heading up a team acting for a US-born British citizen who is crowdfunding an appeal against HMRC’s decision to disclose her confidential financial data to the US authorities under FATCA. ‘We are the first firm to have advised on a legal challenge to the global mandatory disclosure rules, which many see as a direct infringement of personal privacy and human rights,’ says the firm. Noseda appeared in the European Parliament last year to address concerns with FATCA and the CRS.
‘When unexpected events happen, clients reach for their trusted advisers,’ Bart Peerless tells Spear’s. ‘A global pandemic makes people stop and think, “Do I need to dust down that succession plan?” It makes clients reflect and think about the future – they will very often want to talk to their private client lawyer.’ Many of Charles Russell Speechlys’ top-tier clients seek the advice of this sage partner, who has more than 25 years of experience in the business. Peerless advises HNWs, trustees and beneficiaries as well as ‘some of the world’s wealthiest’ and most complex families – a typical client has assets in the ‘multi-billion’ or ‘multi-hundred million’ range. There is a definite trend towards more multi-jurisdictional work for complicated assets, he notes. ‘Even traditional UK families increasingly face questions about domicile and residency, not least as people marry more widely.’ Peerless has been heading the firm’s private client division […]
Spear’s checks in with James Quarmby, Stephenson Harwood’s head of private wealth, who makes time for a call during ‘an extremely busy’ period for his practice and the firm’s international offices. ‘Hong Kong is back to normal, the Dubai office is reopened… Singapore’s good to go,’ he says, adding that the London office is facing ‘all that pent-up demand’ in relation to real estate investments amid Covid-19. ‘In times of turbulence, high-networth clients want to talk to their lawyers…they’re often switching around their investment policies, they’re moving cash around internationally and they want tax or legal advice,’ Quarmby says. Lockdown boredom and lowerpriced assets have contributed to increased transactions too. ‘The clever ones are saying, “Well, OK, this is a horrible time, [there are] all sorts of problems, but you know, we can’t waste a good crisis.”’ Will the government introduce a wealth tax to pay for Covid-19? ‘I don’t […]
Nicola Roberts is the highly commended head of private clients at Deloitte. She oversees a ‘big, diverse practice’ that does ‘all the things you’d expect us to do’. ‘London is the base for our international private client work,’ she says. ‘Outside of London it tends to be more domestic entrepreneurs, UHNW individuals and family offices.’ Roberts focuses on two areas. The first is UHNW international family offices; she looks after every aspect of their taxes, whether their wealth is in businesses, investments, trusts or real estate. Her other sphere is financial services. ‘We look after senior private equity partners and hedge fund owners who are invariably also international, and may also have a family office,’ she explains. ‘It’s a bit of a Venn diagram.’ Her team does considerable work on real estate. Deloitte has the biggest real estate transactions team of the Big Four and has devised an ingenious scheme […]
A partner in Smith & Williamson’s private client tax services Birmingham outpost, Julia Rosenbloom has been busy guiding clients through the twists and turns of recent months. A non-practising solicitor, she covers both corporate and personal tax perspectives on matters including tax, intergenerational wealth planning and property structuring. ‘There’s lots of interesting things happening in the tax world at the moment, lots of upcoming changes,’ she says of the current landscape. Rosenbloom’s practice is decidedly non-prescriptive. ‘You have to get into a client’s shoes and understand how they want to work,’ she says.
Nick Rucker’s client list ranges ‘from the modestly wealthy to the UHNW’, and he relishes the variety. ‘They [clients] tend to be complex,’ he says, ‘but it is surprising how often more modest clients, who aren’t as high-profile, can be just as interesting and profitable.’ The former investment and private banker, who also possesses experience in corporate law, doesn’t see himself as ‘just a tax lawyer’. His experience is a boon to clients, who seek his advice on the commercial, business and entrepreneurial aspects of their lives, assets and companies. ‘We specialise in complexity and problem solving but we do not obsess about international work or ultra-wealth,’ he has said.
Simon Rylatt has an international practice at Boodle Hatfield, where he advises UHNW individuals, families and trusts who have high-value affairs across jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the US. Rylatt, who was nominated for Tax & Trust Lawyer of the Year at the 2019 Spear’s Wealth Management Awards, has a strong reputation on the contentious side, though he prefers solutions everybody can live with. He doesn’t operate solely as a tax and trust lawyer for his clients, as relationships naturally deepen. ‘As part of your advisory role, you do get involved in other aspects of their lives,’ he has previously told Spear’s.
Nimesh Shah, 38, took the reins as CEO of Blick Rothenberg earlier this year, but seems undaunted by the task ahead of him at the 600-person firm. He tells Spear’s that one of his aims is to continue building relationships with entrepreneurs, many of whom come from the tech sector and work with Blick Rothenberg all the way from the start-up stage of their business through to a successful exit. Another aim is to use technology to make processes easier for clients. ‘But,’ he warns, ‘I don’t want us to become robots. The core of Blick Rothenberg is that we are a private client firm.’ That means personal interaction and relationships are crucial
Sonal Shah’s star is rising in the complex tax and trusts landscape, especially where ‘complicated family dynamics’, long-standing trust matters, succession planning and cross-border issues are involved. She also has significant experience in heritage property, associated trusts and double taxation. The senior associate has a particular interest in the Middle East and intergenerational wealth transfer, and clients range from senior executives and entrepreneurs to owners and trustees of landed estates and inherited wealth, as well as international families. Shah has been with Farrer & Co since joining as a trainee in 2007.
Highly regarded among the Spear’s network, Chris Shepard has looked after the tax affairs of families with both inherited and newly acquired wealth for 30 years. A partner at Smith & Williamson since 1996, Shepard often deals with probate matters and estate and tax planning. He also specialises in matters relating to trusts, philanthropy, succession planning and wills. One question he often faces is at what point the children of an HNW client should receive their inheritance. ‘It is a question of giving them enough to take responsibility, but not too much that they completely go off the rails and become dependent,’ he has previously said.
Daniel Sopher doesn’t mince his words. ‘Tax is going up; things are becoming tougher,’ he says. With ‘big changes in capital gains tax and inheritance tax’ on the horizon as a result of Covid-19, he is braced for the challenge. Sopher, who has been running Sopher + Co since 2014, wields formidable expertise in advising owner-managed businesses, entrepreneurs and HNW individuals and families. Things are also becoming more transparent, he notes: ‘People are now having to deal with extra compliance issues, more disclosure for their company to their client base, and things like that.’ Offshore financial centres, meanwhile, are trying to compete to see who is ‘whiter than white’.
Lisa Spearman has described her approach to her work as ‘about making complex issues easy to understand’. It’s not as simple a proposition as one might assume, given her field is full of complicated detail. But with more than 30 years’ experience, Spearman, who has been a partner at Mercer & Hole since 2003, understands the fundamentals of client service. Spearman advises HNWs on all tax matters and leads the firm’s specialised team focused on UK non-doms. ‘We don’t blind people with science,’ she has told Spear’s. ‘What clients need to understand is what the issue is for them and the options available for solving it – and the pros and cons of each.’
Clare Stirzaker spearheads PwC’s ‘growing’ private client legal practice, where she looks after UHNW clients with complex estate planning, cross-border inheritance and tax matters. She is lauded for combining financial nous acquired at Barclays’ international wealth arm with legal knowledge honed at Baker McKenzie. As a result, she is known for helping families design the right long-term structures. She joined PwC to ‘work within a broader consultancy firm where I could develop both my legal and non-legal skills’. Stirzaker says lockdown has pushed succession matters ‘up the agenda’ for families, resulting in an influx of enquiries. ‘Families are starting to recognise that you can’t necessarily have one will to deal with all the different assets in different countries,’ she says, and there have been ‘a lot more virtual workshops and one-on-one discussions’ with families. Next-gen discussions are popular too, she adds, citing a recent case where a family made the […]
Emily Stoneham is ‘an outstanding young contentious trusts lawyer’, according to Payne Hicks Beach. She joined the firm from Macfarlanes in 2017 and was promoted to senior associate earlier this year. Her colleagues enthuse that Stoneham has recently played ‘a critical role’ in many of their biggest cases, independently manages her own caseload and ‘plays an active part’ in the wider private client industry. Her varied practice also covers probate disputes and commercially nuanced cases. She has recently worked on applications for the removal of trustees, challenging wills, and claims for unfair prejudice.
James Walker joined haysmacintyre as a private client tax partner in late 2019 from Buzzacott. He began his career in the Channel Islands, working in the tax teams of two fiduciary services companies and qualifying as both a chartered accountant and chartered tax adviser. Walker has specific knowledge of how the UK taxes non-UK domiciled HNWs, offshore trust/ company structures and related beneficiaries. ‘My clients tend to have wealth they’d like to ensure is available for their future generations, which can involve the use of “offshore” structures and complex planning to marry up financial and personal goals,’ he says.
She might have been working from home, but Wedlake Bell’s head of private client group Camilla Wallace has not stood still during lockdown. ‘We’re as busy as ever,’ she tells Spear’s. ‘Most of our clients have been reviewing their estate planning and housekeeping, making sure that everything is up to date and in order,’ says Wallace, who also sits on the firm’s board. A ‘tragic and heartbreaking’ aspect of lockdown has been an uptick in ‘Covid estates’ and probate work, too. As if that wasn’t enough to fill an agenda, she’s also juggling ‘a dozen or so’ relocations in preparation for the 2021/22 tax year. ‘London may have had a high Covid rate, but it hasn’t put people off in the long term,’ she says. The issues that clients were concerned about ‘post-Corbyn and pre-Covid’ – estate planning and succession planning – are now being looked at with a ‘lot […]
Wendy Walton is one of BDO’s key figures, having climbed the ranks since starting as a trainee. ‘I decided I wanted to be a partner almost immediately,’ she says. At first her role was focused on UK individuals and families; today, international HNWs with complex tax affairs make up most of her client base. Her strategy is ‘to consider what the client wants to achieve and then work through a plan of how to get there, considering the tax implications along the way’. She now sits as the head of BDO’s global private client services. Walton’s main mission is quite simple: to ‘help HNWs succeed’. Her method is building long-term relationships and ‘bringing new ideas to the table’
The head of the international private wealth group at Taylor Wessing, Nick Warr, has had a busy 12 months with work reflective of his ‘truly international practice’ – representing individuals, families and family offices in the Middle East, the US, Europe and the UK. The former Spear’s Private Client Lawyer of the Year continues to live up to his strong reputation. His client base consists of individuals, entrepreneurs, senior executives of financial institutions and professional trustees. He occupies a special niche in his field as a lawyer who acts for ‘a significant number of finance executives, hedge fund managers and private equity principals from top-tier organisations and funds’, with work valued within the ‘£500 million-plus’ range. Given the nature of his client base, the majority of his matters involve two or more jurisdictions. Indeed, one globally prominent family worth ‘in excess of £6 billion’ has recently instructed Warr and his […]
With more than 40 years in private practice, Simon Weil’s ‘broader practice’ of private wealth matters is more comprehensive than most. These days, he says, a ‘particular focus’ for him is philanthropy. He’s hopeful that charitable remainder gifts – a way of giving throughout a lifetime without making an outright gift – will be introduced in the UK. ‘If they were introduced in this country it would make a huge difference to the scale of charitable giving,’ he says. Weil has noticed an uptick in interest in giving. ‘Philanthropy is taking off because of the realisation among UHNWs and HNWs that they really owe it to society to do some payback,’ he notes. ‘Covid-19 has only enhanced that.’
Emma White was promoted to partner in Forsters’ private client department in April. She works on a range of complex and crossborder personal taxation and estate planning matters, with particular focus on estate planning for US citizen clients with links to the UK. The past year has been a stand-out for White. She played a pivotal role in numerous big matters, including the commercial sale of music rights on behalf of a British musician and restructuring the ownership of the controlling and majority economic shareholding in a UK listed company. She has also spoken at conferences, including the International Bar Association’s.
Blick Rothenberg partner Suzanne Willis took top honours among private client tax accountants at last year’s Spear’s Wealth Management Awards as the judges recognised the continued strength of her practice. Willis’s previous firm, Westleton Drake, was acquired by Blick Rothenberg in 2018 as the larger business sought to benefit from its target’s US connections. Willis, who has practised in both UK and US tax law since 1997, has told Spear’s she thinks of her clients as ‘being in the middle of the Atlantic’ because of the way that business interests and family relationships tend to take them back and forth. As internationally mobile HNWs know only too well, this kind of lifestyle can create complexity. In some cases, problems can be dissolved before they arise – but only if clients seek advice sufficiently early. ‘A mistake clients sometimes make is to do things before taking advice. It happens all the […]
Iain Younger’s practice covers ‘a full range of issues’ concerning private clients with ‘proactive, planning-based’ advice based upon ‘a clear understanding of their goals for themselves and their families’. Younger joined Frank Hirth in 2000 and has established and built the trust and estates service within its private client offering. He joined the board of directors in 2016 and covers numerous areas of US and UK taxation and offers specialist advice relating to FATCA reporting. He is also a trustee of NPT-Transatlantic, which deals with effective charitable giving for US and UK-connected individuals and families.
‘If an HNW wants to invest/do business in the US, Basil is the go-to,’ one peer enthused when asked to recommend an international private client lawyer for this index. When Spear’s Zooms the New York/London-based Zirinis, he’s delighted to speak. ‘You have the most sophisticated English law firms, I think – I work with all of them,’ he says. He’s been a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell since 1994. Zirinis has extensive experience in trust and estate litigation. Highlights include US-Bahamas litigation representing Chicago’s Pritzker family, the America’s Cup trust litigation in New York, and ‘a multi-billion-dollar’ trust case in Europe and the Caribbean.