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

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Tax & Trust Advisers 2018

MOST RECENT: Tax & Trust Advisers 2018

Top Ten Tax & Trust Lawyers

Mark Bridges

Farrer & Co

Top Ten Tax & Trust Lawyers

For more than a quarter of a century, Lord Bridges has arguably been the pre-eminent lawyer in this field. Down the phone, Spear’s hears the voice which has guided not only the Queen, but also the Duchy of Lancaster through their tax affairs. ‘What is interesting is the way that for most clients the purely domestic concerns are less a part of what we’ve been doing than the global things – the CRS [Common Reporting Standard] and the EU,’ he says. It’s an opinion offered from a perch of great experience: taxation law has changed beyond recognition during his career. One gets the impression of a man whose sense of humour keeps him going – certainly, clients keep returning to him. ‘I think London is doing its best not to be attractive; Italy is trying to court people; France is coming back from the high levels of tax it had […]

Robert Brodrick

Payne Hicks Beach

Top Ten Tax & Trust Lawyers

Known for his representation of Arab royalty, British landed families and American UHNWs, Robert Brodrick is a trusted adviser on the ‘full spectrum’ of tax. For Brodrick and the rest of the tax team at Payne Hicks Beach, 2018 has been a year of consolidation after ‘a series of momentous changes’ to the non-dom laws in 2017. ‘The main challenges are the ever-increasing burden of regulation [he mentions trust registration, the CRS and exchange of information] and the change in attitude towards tax planning.’ As a result, the firm is moving away from tax planning to focus more on family governance and succession planning. Since the mid-1700s, Payne Hicks Beach has been advising private clients from the same premises in Lincoln’s Inn. ‘Our focus is acting for private clients, so we are used to dealing with individuals,’ says Broderick. ‘HNWs are still ordinary people who have emotions and difficult relationships. […]

Jonathan Conder

Macfarlanes

Top Ten Tax & Trust Lawyers

‘My transitional year!’ says the irrepressible Jonathan Conder, who speaks to Spear’s fresh from his senior partner appraisal. The retrospective has clearly galvanised him. Last year he handed on the head of department baton to Piers Barclay, and Conder has plunged himself into a dizzying round of client activity: ‘I’ve picked up half a dozen families, all over a billion each, and I’ve been very fully engaged. Besides, sometimes clients who are much less wealthy produce much more work.’ Conder reflects on 2017, the year of the snap election and budget confusion: ‘Looking back, it was chaotic, but all we could say to clients was, “Don’t do anything.” You have to be honest with clients.’ In the end, of course, the second Finance Act went through, which teed up a busy second half of the year: ‘It was a game of two halves.’ Conder seems philosophical about the Requirement to […]

Ashley Crossley

Baker McKenzie

Top Ten Tax & Trust Lawyers

Ashley Crossley, Baker McKenzie’s head of wealth management, excitedly tells Spear’s of a ‘colossal’ amount of business coming in from the Middle East, making up almost 75 per cent of his practice this year. He cites the increase of private wealth in the Gulf and London’s position as the world’s financial crown as reasons for this: ‘Local businesses there want to see and expand their presence in London.’ Crossley says the influx suggests that ‘Brexit is an opportunity rather than a problem’, adding: ‘Soon the investors from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region will not only look to where the investment opportunities are, but will also look for the best pool of experts in one place – and certainly London meets that.’ The dual-qualified solicitor and barrister leads Baker McKenzie’s European and Middle East wealth management practice groups and its Russia/CIS practice, as well as coordinating the firm’s global banking […]

Ceris Gardner

Maurice Turnor Gardner

Top Ten Tax & Trust Lawyers

‘The clients fall into two categories: those who are concerned about the uncertainty that pervades everything, and others who are quite relaxed about it,’ says Ceris Gardner, a long-standing Spear’s contributor (see page 38). ‘That second group thinks, “If it gets too bad, I’m internationally mobile enough to leave these shores.”’ Gardner has done just that, after a fashion – she speaks to Spear’s from the south of France during a holiday. ‘The real concern is the perception that the government has got it in for non-doms, and there’s a fear that if things get much worse they will have no option but to leave. And the transparency initiative is fine so far as it goes, but it’s striking fear into people’s hearts that the UK government is in the vanguard,’ she explains. Another major theme which Gardner identifies is immigration – many of her clients are looking outside the […]

Bart Peerless

Charles Russell Speechlys

Top Ten Tax & Trust Lawyers

Bart Peerless is beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. ‘We’ve just emerged from the big non-dom tax changes: unless there’s a fundamental change of approach, we’re probably at the end of a journey that began back in 1998 – and began in earnest in 2008. The pace of change has been so quick,’ he tells Spear’s. From Gordon Brown’s first budget, through the Osborne years and beyond, lawyers like Peerless have had to contend not just with mistakes in legislative drafting (‘This is fiendishly difficult stuff, but the technical problems tend to get smoothed’) but also with the sheer deluge of new law. This, he argues, is what makes large firms like Charles Russell Speechlys a suitable choice: ‘The pace of change, and transparency, drives you towards bigger firms. But I would say that, wouldn’t I?’ Although the gradual chipping away at the non-dom rules has […]

James Quarmby

Stephenson Harwood

Top Ten Tax & Trust Lawyers

James Quarmby, usually the most quotably pugnacious solicitor out there, initially wrong-foots Spear’s: ‘I’m feeling quite relaxed after a holiday, and looking forward to a good walk,’ he says. But any fears of some great mellowing are quelled when we ask him about the past year. ‘A dog’s breakfast,’ he says, without missing a beat. ‘All these proposals, then an election – some were dropped, some revitalised. It was a terrible year.’ There is a silver lining: ‘This year is not as bad because we have a big non-doms reform every ten years.’ But this concession seems merely to tauten the sling for the next shot: ‘Some of the legislation coming out of the Treasury is awful. Someone needs to take a slipper to them. It’s poorly drafted and poorly targeted; and that’s a concern, along with its draconian nature. The word “overreaction” springs to mind.’ That refers to the […]

John Riches

RMW Law

Top Ten Tax & Trust Lawyers

John Riches has a unique place in the private client world, as both a superb practitioner and as an adviser to STEP on complex matters of transparency – there is probably no one alive who knows more about the CRS. It was no surprise, then, that he picked up his second Spear’s Wealth Management Award last November, winning the 2017 Tax & Trust Lawyer of the Year prize. He has also been charged with looking into the domestic trusts register. ‘It’s so messy,’ he says. ‘It takes things to a whole new level, and is now casting the net more wildly. An ever-increasing circle of people are sucked in. It’s already unfair and complex: we’re trying to rough off some of the edges.’ Alongside this, Riches advises family offices, usually on a cross-border basis, and also has a strong client base of entrepreneurs. How does he fit it all in? […]

Simon Rylatt

Boodle Hatfield

Top Ten Tax & Trust Lawyers

It’s been a busy and challenging year for Boodle Hatfield’s Simon Rylatt – ‘as seems to be the case repeatedly’, he tells Spear’s. He says HMRC has become ‘more challenging, inquisitive and determined’, but it still hasn’t been doing enough to ensure the impact of technology and information exchange is being handled properly. He has observed a focus on demonstrable governance and compliance – a consequence of new regulatory and statutory requirements, but also driven by clients’ desire to protect their reputations: ‘The focus on transparency and the rationale for it are of course understandable, but the cost of that in terms of privacy is potentially extensive.’ Rylatt has a strong reputation on the contentious side, though he prefers solutions that everybody can live with, drawing from his mature understanding of the emotional and family spheres that surround his clients. ‘I have always been interested in family dynamics, and the […]

Simon Weil

Bircham Dyson Bell

Top Ten Tax & Trust Lawyers

Simon Weil might breathe old-school charm, but he’s also a cutting-edge thinker on the state of taxation law. ‘Earlier in the year we did a presentation in the Channel Islands called “The Endless Labyrinth”,’ he says. ‘We looked at where everybody is now in the context of inheritance tax, resident and non-resident, and all the huge changes in capital taxation, and the huge burden of regulation that now weighs down upon…’ His voice trails off at the enormity of it all. Solicitors are becoming, says Weil, more like ‘holistic’ advisers. ‘Philanthropy isn’t a safe haven. If we’re acting for non-doms who want to create a grant, we have to be careful about source of funds.’ Weil has seen a marked increase in charities with dual nationality territories, particularly between here and the US. Interestingly, he’s sceptical about the Giving Pledge: ‘I’m much keener on the introduction of living legacies into […]

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

Robert Blower

Charles Russell Speechlys

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

‘It’s unbelievably complicated, and that’s a pity,’ says Robert Blower, referring to the knottiness of UK tax law. However, he’s more than up to the challenge. ‘A colossally good lawyer’, according to peers, and with 30 years’ experience in the industry, he’s skilled in private wealth matters ranging from offshore restructuring and landed estates to heritage property. He also has niche expertise in advising on Sharia law compliance for Middle Eastern trusts. ‘UK clients tend to be quite international and our international clients have UK interests,’ he observes. On the subject of privacy, he is succinct: ‘As an economy, we need people to pay their fair share, and that pushes the government towards registers and public information. But as individuals, we need to be aware of our privacy: it’s an ongoing tension.’ In the UK, clients are wary of the London property market because of Brexit. ‘It’s difficult to say […]

Jonathan Burt

Harbottle & Lewis

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

‘There’s nothing that makes people more miserable than having a punch-up with their relatives, and equally there’s nothing that results in wealth being dissipated faster,’ says Jonathan Burt, Harbottle & Lewis’s new hire from Harcus Sinclair. He warns that feuding families are in danger of causing their business to suffer if they go down the litigious route. Burt says the contentious element of tax goes back to Victorian times. ‘You can see that there was plenty of conflict [in the field]: the tendency is reflected in Jarndyce v Jarndyce,’ he says, referring to the convoluted case in Bleak House. Even today clients – from Europe to the Middle East and Africa – ask him for simple solutions in this complex area. Burt has noted over more than 25 years in the ‘fascinatingly analytical’ profession that the answer is never straightforward: ‘If you own something personally, you’ve got to consider the […]

Mark Buzzoni

Taylor Wessing

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

Over the past year Mark Buzzoni has been involved in some ‘heavy-duty arguments with HMRC about domicile’, fuelled by changes to domicile rules that continue to provide specialists like him with plenty to do. Other notable work has involved helping clients navigate the new capital gains tax regime, which will affect commercial property when it comes into force next year – as well as assisting those moving to the UK with their tax planning. An expert in tax, trusts and family governance issues, Buzzoni has a predominantly international client base – around 80 per cent come from abroad, hailing from Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, plus a number of Americans based in London. While British clients still make use of trusts, those from overseas are wary of the loss of control involved when transferring assets. A popular alternative, he notes, is the private trusted company, which allows […]

Russell Cohen

Farrer & Co

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

‘In terms of legislation it’s settled down a bit: it’s less frantic and less exciting – in a good way,’ says the likeable and self-deprecating Russell Cohen, a long-standing partner at Farrer. In addition to dealing with a turbulent time in the Middle East (about a third of his client business is Middle Eastern), Cohen is also experiencing a sea change in the nature of his work: ‘The motivation is not tax planning, it’s family governance and succession planning. They’re not trying to get immediate savings, they’re trying to get their savings passed on to the next generation.’ Cohen notes that his role has, if anything, broadened as the world has become more heated and complex: his role can sometimes seem to resemble that of an homme d’affaires: ‘Clients are concerned about their values, their reputations, their risks – it’s an increasingly litigious world, and they’re concerned about regulation. It’s […]

Sophie Dworetzsky

Withers

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

The UK tax system is ‘wildly, unnecessarily complex, which is unfair on taxpayers’, says Withers partner Sophie Dworetzsky, highlighting the regular change of underlying policy – such as the non-dom rules – which leads to huge uncertainty. ‘From the country’s point of view, if you have extremely wealthy taxpayers who don’t know what their tax position will be until just before the law is announced, giving them no time to plan makes us a less attractive country.’ Having started out in corporate tax law, Dworetzsky was occasionally presented with the odd private client matter, which appealed to her ‘because it straddled that slightly strange divide between personal and commercial’. Well versed in the financial elements of transactions, she has since carved out a niche advising fund managers and principals on tax-efficient remuneration structures. Aside from the intellectually stretching nature of the work, the most rewarding thing is being a trusted […]

Jonathan Godwin-Austen

Hunters

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

In the past year, Jonathan Godwin-Austen has been busy with ‘two particularly large generational transfer projects for big landed families’ – an area he has come to specialise in. He describes the steps involved: ‘Defining who “family” is, who the key people are, who should be involved in the decision-making, who should have control, and who should have wealth and in what way.’ Highly regarded by colleagues and clients alike for his affable nature and technical ability, he is an expert on trust, estate and tax law, and on the preservation, management, enhancement and devolution of their capital wealth. Most of his work is UK-centric: ‘My peculiar characteristic’, he says. And Hunters does have a unique reputation for having nurtured relationships with multiple generations of British families during its 300-year history. Although trusts are still used, they are under intense scrutiny from HMRC, ‘because there’s been a wrong perception that […]

Charles Gothard

Macfarlanes

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

‘The distinctive thing about Macfarlanes is that we have a reputation as the only firm that has a leading reputation for both private client and corporate work,’ says Charles Gothard, the razor-sharp co-head of the firm’s family office group. As a result it has a ‘disproportionate number’ of entrepreneurs as clients, who are attracted by a firm that can advise on personal planning while having a full understanding of their business should the need for a company restructuring arise, for example. ‘A curious theme’ in recent months has been the amount of international probate work landing on his desk, which demonstrates above all else ‘the importance of organising one’s affairs in one’s lifetime so you don’t leave a mess’. Appointing a trusted adviser (or two) with a full picture of your affairs is the single most important thing you can do before you die to avoid any guesswork and problems […]

Liz Palmer

Howard Kannedy

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

There is a disconnect between jurisdictions when it comes to interpreting the CRS rules, and this has thrown up ‘unhelpful anomalies’ in the tax world, says Liz Palmer. The head of private client and family at Howard Kennedy, who specialises particularly in offshore cases, says it’s a recipe for disputes with the taxman. ‘You can get a scenario where a piece of CRS compliance arises in one of the offshore jurisdictions for an individual who’s never had any requirement to report that structure to their domestic tax authorities,’ Palmer explains.‘It can create inconsistencies for them.’ More and more, families are moving away from structuring towards a more strategic deconstruction. ‘People used to judge their affairs by how many layers of trusts and companies that are involved, but now it really is a flight to simplicity and clarity,’ says Palmer. And there is nowhere to hide compared to a decade ago, […]

Claire Maurice

Maurice Turnor Gardener

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

Clare Maurice is a delight to talk to: ‘We’ve been very busy and wondering when the summer lull will come over us. It tends to be coming up now – in the old days there was no email or anything so [clients would] sit and plot at home, and you wouldn’t hear from them until they got home. Now they’re sitting in their deckchairs!’ Maurice says her work has come from three different streams. First, a number of clients are worried about their immigration status following Brexit. ‘We’re shadow-boxing a bit. We’ve had more clarity recently: it looks as though people will be all right.’ There’s also a pervasive concern about politics. ‘[Clients say], “Oh my God, we’re going to have a Corbyn government!”’ And the third stream? ‘It’s just this general apprehension around the world. In families there’ll always be spats: the old lion is dying and the young […]

Patricia Milner

Withers

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

Even someone as experienced as Patricia Milner is concerned about the state of UK politics. ‘There’s lots of uncertainty,’ she tells us. ‘Quite a few clients are wondering whether they should stay or leave: that is very unsettling.’ Of course, the current tax and regulatory environment doesn’t help. Milner lists some of the changes: ‘There’s the CRS, and other changes such as the EU 5th Money Laundering Directive, the introduction of the trusts register, the PSB Register.’ How are clients responding? ‘They’re aware of an increasing onus placed on them… While some clients are unhappy about it, there is a growing acceptance that it’s a global issue… Some clients are looking to Switzerland for custody of some assets; others have already got a footprint in another jurisdiction and are looking to strengthen that.’ The complexity of the tax environment is producing another trend. ‘I’m acting for a lot of families […]

Filippo Noseda

Mishcon de Raya

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

‘Increasingly, the answer to a client’s question is not written in a textbook,’ says Filippo Noseda, a partner in the Mishcon Private team. ‘More than ever, families need strategic advice – for example, European families faced with the fallout of Brexit, or Middle Eastern families faced with systematic instability in their region.’ Noseda focuses on international tax, governance, succession and matrimonial property issues. He frequently establishes or restructures trusts and philanthropic foundations. He says of recent upheavals to the UK tax rules: ‘The implementation of the changes was delayed by the general election. This resulted in poorly drafted legislation that is creating a lot of complex issues for a number of families, many of whom are considering relocating.’ One career moment stands out: his flight to meet a client at the Dead Sea (on the Jordanian side) was redirected to Lebanon. Then the connecting flight was cancelled. He travelled through […]

Beatrice Puoti

Burges Salmon

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

One of the few private client lawyers who can advise on Italian as well as UK issues –and bilingually as well – Puoti is known as the go-to lawyer for HNWs with southern European interests. She also specialises in cross-border estate planning issues, with a particular focus on all issues arising from Roman law and Common Law application. ‘It’s like having a massive puzzle and trying to make it all fit,’ she says. ‘I understand both sides of the coin so I can put together something that is solid and tax-efficient, and will withstand scrutiny from either country.’ Puoti believes that one of the real strengths of the UK tax system is that ‘there are rules, and the rules are respected by HMRC’. However, she thinks the 45 per cent rate on income tax could be lowered: ‘The tax system needs to be fair, and now more than ever, the […]

Nick Rucker

Irwin Mitchell

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

Nick Rucker’s client list ranges ‘from the modestly wealthy to the UHNW’, and he relishes the variety. ‘They [the 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.’ As well as his legal training, Rucker also has a background in both investment and private banking. ‘I don’t see myself as just a tax lawyer,’ he says. He also ran a wealth planning business for six years before the boutique was absorbed by Irwin Mitchell in 2014. ‘It was the best thing I’ve ever done’, he says of the merger. ‘I get to spend a lot of time building and managing the private wealth business here, but I also work directly with clients.’ He believes the standard of debate over offshore is ‘pretty infantile’, mostly due to misinformation in the media coverage. ‘You […]

Camilla Wallace

Wedlake Bell

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

‘Take advice regularly from professionals and not on the golf course or at the marina,’ says the straight-talking Camilla Wallace, head of the private client group at Wedlake Bell, where she specialises in both offshore and onshore trust structuring. Wallace also advises trustees and beneficiaries in relation to the management and administration of trusts and estates. Having trained at a top US firm in London, Wallace moved to Macfarlanes before joining Wedlake Bell in 2007 where she made partner just six years after qualifying. Trusts are as popular as they ever were for tax mitigation, asset protection and responsible estate planning, she says. However, ‘timing is crucial and not all assets can pass into trust without a UK tax charge’. Alternatives such as family investment companies and family limited partnerships have helped fill the gap. Tax can and should participate in creating intergenerational fairness, says Wallace, simply because millennials have […]

Nick Warr

Taylor Wessing

Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers

The head of the private client department at Taylor Wessing, Nick Warr notes a ‘global fear’ among his clients, resulting from geopolitical and economic events. As a result, many are bent more on wealth preservation than generation. ‘They can’t really see where the opportunity is now, without taking excessive risk,’ he says. ‘To make real money involves ratcheting up the risk scale. ‘My advice is to look long-term and protect your wealth for future generations,’ he adds. Reflecting the firm’s client base, his practice is predominantly international, with many clients involved in the financial industries and hailing from the US, Middle East, Far East and Europe. While data-sharing is a reality of today’s world, he is unequivocal about the security risk involved when information is passed on and control is lost. ‘Data is quite often misused, particularly in certain jurisdictions,’ he explains. When it comes to tax rates, Warr is […]

Top Ten Tax Accountants

Paul Ayres

BDO

Top Ten Tax Accountants

Last year Paul Ayres had just experienced ‘the busiest tax year-end in two decades’, and this year he’s been even busier. ‘What we’re seeing is a lot of people needing help in terms of restructuring, and they’re looking for a bigger firm that has a global reach,’ says the formidable accountant, who has seen his client base expand by 20 per cent. Lucid and approachable, Ayres is head of private clients at BDO and specialises in all aspects of HNW and UHNW affairs, with emphasis on domicile and residence issues and associated planning. He serves a mix of domestic clients and international non-doms: ‘Sometimes we deal with the individual, sometimes with a whole family, sometimes with trustees and sometimes with a client’s family offices. We can either be the lead adviser or work alongside their other advisers to create a complementary service.’ Ayres adds that UK domestic trusts are a […]

Dermot Callinan

Saffery Champness

Top Ten Tax Accountants

‘We have a very entrepreneurial character up here in the North East and the real economy is doing exceptionally well,’ Dermot Callinan says as he phones in from Saffery’s Harrogate office. ‘Clients have been producing a lot of personal wealth.’ One of our few recommended tax accountants outside London, Callinan advises UK entrepreneurs and UNHW clients, most of whom are ‘actively involved in developing new businesses’. Most of his career has been spent at KPMG, where he led the national private client business for ten years. He joined Saffery early last year. ‘I enjoy being able to articulate a complicated concept to clients in a clear and succinct way,’ he says. ‘Basically, it’s just about giving good advice.’ In an uncertain tax landscape, he believes ‘experience and sound judgement’ are ever more valuable commodities. He also believes keeping a cool head and taking a step back is paramount: ‘That way, […]

Mark Davies

Mark Davies & Associates

Top Ten Tax Accountants

‘Although it’s quite a big shift, it’s almost like coming home,’ Mark Davies says of the collaboration his firm now has with Andersen Global, which has converted the boutique into a larger operation with access to a network of advisers across 100 locations. Davies now works with the top accounting brass who survived the collapse of Arthur Andersen in 2002. These private client specialists refused to join the Big Four, and formed Andersen Tax instead, of which Andersen Global is an international co-operative of tax advisers, advising ‘big ticket’ entrepreneurs such as the owners of Amazon and Apple. ‘It’s unusual you find a group of people that are so similar,’ Davies enthuses, adding that both companies focus on ‘recruiting the best talent’. But the tax environment has never been more pressurised for HNWs. ‘Governments generally are short of money, and rather than focusing on efficiency and spending they are focusing […]

James Hender

Saffrey Champness

Top Ten Tax Accountants

James Hender’s clients are worried about more than Brexit – they’re also worried a change in government could have a ‘radical impact’ on their lives and a very changed tax landscape. Aside from preparing clients for this hypothetical future, Hender is also tasked with protecting a wide range of families, entrepreneurs and international HNWs from the current regime. Saffery Champness’s head of private wealth has noticed a ‘definite change in style’ in HMRC’s approach to wealth, especially if it’s stationed offshore. ‘The Revenue is focusing much more on penalties,’ he says. ‘HMRC is under the impression that there are a lot of schemes being thought up and concocted for clients – but that world is gone.’ He adds that the authorities’ suspicions, equipped with ‘powerful legislation’, can bring dire consequences for HNWs, especially those with undisclosed offshore liabilities, whether or not the error is accidental: ‘Undoubtedly some people will have […]

Elizabeth Henson

PwC

Top Ten Tax Accountants

‘Incremental tinkering doesn’t really have the desired effect,’ says Elizabeth Henson, calling for a tax sphere that is ‘fit for the future’. ‘There needs to be a focus on re-examining the whole system.’ Henson heads the firm’s private client and private business teams, and is the go-to for UHNW families with global investments and interests. ‘Commercial substance, transparency and arm’s-length principles are key,’ she responds when asked about her approach to offshore tax planning. An expert on the Middle East, Africa and Asia, she has seen the concept of trusts spread in emerging markets. She credits ‘greater regulation and governance of trustees’ and increased transparency as factors. However, tax transparency can be a double-edged sword, as it impinges on the right to privacy. ‘Fears about personal safety and security remain real,’ she says. Henson advocates ‘intergenerational fairness’, and agrees that tax can play a part in closing the generational gap, […]

Paula Higgleton

Deloitte

Top Ten Tax Accountants

‘I’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt,’ jokes Deloitte’s doyenne of private wealth, Paula Higgleton about the depths of complexity and the many tomes she has dived into during her 25 years in tax. Higgleton, a private client partner and vice-chairman at the Big Four firm, reports a year of exciting new recruits and the establishment of a family office consulting team, primed to create and maintain family offices over significant generational shifts. ‘Many entrepreneurs do think they are immortal, they genuinely do,’ she observes. ‘We gently help them realise that actually they’re not and that they do need to plan to make sure the next generation are engaged and prepared for the responsibilities that wealth brings.’ Higgleton notes that some areas of the tax landscape are finally becoming more navigable. ‘Much of it is a lot clearer these days,’ she says. ‘Take the residence rules, for example: we […]

Paul Hocking

Frank Hirth

Top Ten Tax Accountants

Paul Hocking joined Frank Hirth in 1976 as its first employee and has since steadily built a reputation as a top transatlantic tax specialist dealing with large clients on both sides of the pond. Last year he won Spear’s Private Client Accountant of the Year – ‘a great reward for surviving 40-plus years in the tax business!’ he says. During that time, the firm has become recognised as one of the top practices for assisting with US tax matters outside the US. Its clients ‘are all looking for high-quality, joined-up straightforward advice in an increasingly complex tax world’, says Hocking. ‘We deliver that in spades.’ With tax changes at home and across the pond, tax advice has never been more sought-after. ‘As the new UK non-dom and trust rules become clearer, we can help and advise clients on how best to position themselves for worldwide taxation as opposed to the […]

Simon Jennings

Smith & Williamson

Top Ten Tax Accountants

‘It’s a more appropriate firm for me to work towards retirement,’ Simon Jennings tells Spear’s two years after his move to Smith & Williamson from Rawlinson & Hunter, where he was a partner for more than three decades. Jennings is impressed by the ‘very professional and very civilised’ team of partners at S&W. From his perspective the profession remains in rude health. ‘The good ones never die,’ he says. What has the senior consultant learned in his long time at the crease? Jennings replies simply: ‘No two private clients are alike.’ He adds that personality, family circumstances, plans for the future, and risk appetite of a given client are all things an adviser needs to consider before tailoring the right advice. ‘You’re not only dealing with the Lord of the Manor so to speak, but you’re dealing with complex family situations.’ Clients who come to Jennings have such complicated tax […]

Greg Limb

KPMG

Top Ten Tax Accountants

‘The past 12 months have been about preparing for the unexpected,’ says KPMG’s busy head of private client, nearly two years into the role. Greg Limb has been helping his network of global clients navigate the uncertain world of tax. ‘A large part of our work has been in helping [them] make sense of what the future could look like.’ Limb, who specialises in looking after entrepreneurs and family offices, operates, he has previously told us, in a landscape of ‘tremendous wealth creation’. More recently, he has seen the impact of the ‘great wealth transfer’ materialising, as assets are handed down the generations. ‘This is playing out against a backdrop of pretty fundamental and seismic issues affecting intergenerational wealth,’ he says. While many advisers call for tax simplification, Limb stresses that the debate around ‘harmonising’ the rules is far more important. ‘We are a long way off bringing tax codes […]

Nicola Roberts

Deloitte

Top Ten Tax Accountants

One year into her role as head of private client services at Deloitte, where she’s responsible for the Big Four firm’s provision of tax services both domestically and nationally, Nicola Roberts is busier than ever, but she’s not complaining. ‘It’s a very clients and people-focused role, which I enjoy,’ she says. Roberts, who has been in the business for more than 20 years, became one of the firm’s youngest partners in 2011. She has been client-facing throughout her career, working with a range of family offices and HNWs, and is praised by the firm in particular for her success in advising international entrepreneurs. A consistent worry among clients is the frequent uncertainty surrounding their affairs, due in large part to the way policy changes have been handled by governments. ‘They don’t like lots of change, be that in relation to economics or fiscal policy, for example,’ she explains. ‘My role […]

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

Rachel Bentley

PwC

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

PwC’s director of private clients has advised clients all over the world: Rachel Bentley’s work has taken her from Japan to the US and South Africa since 2012. Nowadays she’s particularly focused on developing a private wealth practice in Cape Town – part of the firm’s strategic alliance with its African network. Bentley’s global reach has given her a deep understanding of the flow of capital and labour across the planet, as well as all related tax issues. ‘The twin goals of fairness and simplicity must be at the heart of global fiscal policy in order to build a system fit for the future,’ she says. It’s a connected world, and one where wider transparency measures mean tax and reputation can go hand-in-hand. Bentley views GDPR as a powerful tool with which to uphold personal privacy. ‘Individuals and families should have a clear understanding of what data-sharing means for their […]

Victor Dauppe

Arram Berlyn Gardner

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

Victor Dauppe, Arram Berlyn Gardner’s tax partner, has immense knowledge of tax – so much so that he has written and lectured extensively on the subject and co-authored a textbook on intellectual property law and taxation. ‘He is a well-known and widely respected tax practitioner, noted for his clear grasp of business and tax issues,’ a senior peer confirms. His clarity on a range of private client and corporate issues in this field is admirable, especially when you consider that the landscape is anything but straightforward. ‘If I put £5 in your hand, what have I done? Given it to you? Lent it? Paid it? Repaid it? There are 28 interpretations of that transaction,’ he previously told Spear’s. Dauppe’s client base is entrepreneurial and is attracted to Arram Berlyn Gardner’s highly commercial brand of advice. He has also argued that income tax and national insurance should merge in order to […]

Tom Evennett

EY

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

It’s been a year of change at EY. The retirement of heavyweight David Kilshaw – not to mention the departure of private client head Katherine Bullock to Field Court Chambers – has seen two top advisers disappearing from this index. However, this has paved the way for the talented Tom Evennett, who recently joined EY from Deloitte, to come to the fore.Evennett is no stranger to Spear’s: he was named Accountant of the Year at our Young Turk Awards in 2014. ‘[I arrived] to further develop the firm’s brand and continue to grow the team in the private client marketplace,’ Evennett explains. He’s now responsible for advising a wide range of HNWs, from entrepreneurs to private equity executives and families, on their private offices and wealth structures across ‘the rapidly and ever changing’ business, economic, political and tax law landscapes, both in the UK as well as globally. Evennett applauds […]

Ben Grist

Dixon Wilson

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

A mathematics graduate from the University of Cambridge, Ben Grist thrives on the challenge of explaining complex issues to his UK and international clients. ‘The key is to provide clear, practical advice to clients on what they need to do and how they should manage their affairs,’ he says. ‘As soon as you start quoting tax legislation or reciting HMRC guidance to a client, you’ve failed.’ Grist advises on matters including landed estates, personal tax, trusts and capital tax planning. He also works with businesses and entrepreneurs, directing non-domiciled individuals on residence and remittance issues. Despite uncertainty over non-dom reforms, trusts are still trusted, says Grist, and rightly so. ‘The final changes were not as bad as some had feared,’ he explains. ‘I still see very legitimate, non-tax-related reasons why clients want to establish trusts – and, for them, it’s a shame that the landscape has changed for the worse […]

Daniel Hyde

Westleton Drake

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

Daniel Hyde describes his client base as consisting mostly of ‘Americans whose children speak with British accents’. With Trump’s tax reforms and the non-dom reforms in the UK, that client base has been significantly buffeted in the past year. ‘The major problem with the US tax reform is that it was passed quickly, and therefore regulated badly in some areas,’ says Hyde. ‘The reforms required immediate action without the benefit of guidance and regulation.’ In particular, the US tax imposed on US owners of foreign corporations has caused ‘a lot of confusion, frustration and anxiety’. For, Hyde, being a good tax adviser is ‘not about being the smartest person in the room’ – rather, it’s about understanding what the client needs to know. ‘You have to be a chameleon,’ he says. ‘A hedge fund manager will want different information from a wealthy, elderly retired couple. You have to be able […]

David Mellor

Dixon Wilson

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

David Mellor is a highly experienced practitioner who believes the tax code is overdue major simplification. ‘Technically, it is achievable and would be an incredibly good thing,’ he starts, but then adds: ‘Whether there is the political will to do it is quite a different matter – politics is inevitably a short-term game.’ The complex set of rules which have accumulated over the past 20 years continue to complicate affairs for Mellor’s UHNW clients. ‘We have to go back to when Nigel Lawson was chancellor: his ambition was to abolish a tax every budget,’ he recalls. But all in all, Mellor does have faith in the faculties of government and acknowledges that chancellor Philip Hammond is ‘trying’ to iron out the wrinkles using a more ‘consultative’ approach in creating his budgets than was the case with his immediate predecessors: ‘It’s probably better now than in the previous decade or so: […]

Jitu Shah

Price Bailey

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

Soft-spoken, intelligent and highly observant, Jitu Shah believes the HNW world is suffering from a dual paralysis. ‘People aren’t making any decisions because of Brexit: property transactions seem to have come to a standstill, especially among foreign buyers,’ he notes. The other thing on everybody’s minds is inheritance tax, which was reformed last April. ‘The timing is totally wrong,’ says Shah. ‘It’s much too big an overhaul to combine with the nebulous uncertainty surrounding our exit from the European Union.’ Pre-2017, non-residents used to own property via offshore companies; now they’re still liable to the tax. ‘That means many are restructuring, many are gifting it to their children or putting it in the names of their spouses. It’s relatively easy tax planning,’ he explains. Known for his discretion and unassuming manner, Shah advises primarily Middle Eastern and Far Eastern entrepreneurs on day-to-day business, financial management and tax positioning. Born and […]

Nimesh Shah

Blick Rothenberg

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

When it comes to the tax system as a whole, Nimesh Shah is ‘a huge believer in simplification’: ‘When I started there were two books: A and B, and now it’s A to H plus indices. The myriad of rules is mind-boggling.’ Luckily for his clients, Shah is a masterful practitioner. He is an expert in the taxation of non-doms and advises clients, many of whom are entrepreneurs, on personal tax matters relating to all aspects of a company’s business life cycle. As regards non-doms, who comprise half his client base, a large part of the past year has been spent reassuring them with regard to the sudden tax changes which came in in April 2017. The technical aspects have been extremely complicated. The challenge is simplifying reams of legislation for clients for whom simplicity is an absolute priority, ‘because the world around them has got so complicated’ – something […]

Daniel Sopher

Sopher + Co

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

‘Dealing with families and family business, we invest a lot of time in helping clients resolve their differences without causing rifts in familial relationships,’ says Daniel Sopher, who has a background in both tax advisory and law. ‘We’ve been doing a lot of mediation recently,’ he adds. After studying law at UCL, Sopher became PwC’s youngest tax manager in September 2001. Since 2014, he’s run the business his father Ivan started 40 years ago. Much of his mediation work involves resolving disputes over ownership of business, and succession issues regarding how a business will be run by the next generation, but Sopher’s experience spans various sectors. Such a rounded approach undoubtedly helps in advising the firm’s clients in creative arts – from A-list musicians to prominent film and TV producers. Today Sopher + Co employs more than 100 people. ‘We can do anything from accounting for clients’ businesses to doing […]

Lisa Spearman

Mercer & Hole

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

Lisa Spearman decided she wanted to work in tax at the age of 13, undertaking numerous internships to ensure her dream came true. Now an expert on the tax consequences of offshore trusts and residence and domicile issues, Spearman leads Mercer & Hole’s specialist team, which focuses on closely attending to non-UK-domiciled clients. ‘I maintain, as ever, that the best way forward is to understand your clients’ needs and then help them adjust their arrangements to meet those needs,’ she says. ‘Tax is a part of the overall plan but is not the sole driver.’ One of the greatest trials of the job is ‘dealing with the red tape and non-tax compliance requirements which are onerous and can be in conflict with tax law’, she explains. There is too much law and insufficient HMRC resources to manage the changes, she adds. ‘The legislation is insufficiently scrutinised and there are examples […]

Clare Stirzaker

PwC

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

PwC’s family office leader and tax partner Clare Stirzaker is known among peers for her excellence in helping family businesses and family offices design the right long-term structures. So how do you get wealth transition right? Stirzaker has seen a recent rise in the use of family constitutions and family councils in order to structure her clients’ affairs. ‘A well-advised family will have a strong governance framework in place, in addition to traditional vehicles such as trusts and foundations,’ she says, adding that trusts still remain ‘very popular’ among UK and international empires. Stirzaker notes that families are becoming more aware of the ‘erosion of privacy’ under tax transparency rules. ‘Many HNWs accept this trend but will carefully assess what information is being reported,’ she says. ‘It’s to ensure that firstly it is accurate, but also to ensure that they are clear on what information is held by whom, so […]

James Sykes

Saffery Champness

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

‘I’m not someone who’s got my head in the tax law book the whole time: for me it’s more about going out and meeting people and helping them achieve their aims,’ says James Sykes, who’s been Saffery’s chairman since 2016. ‘Rich people are rich people, they broadly have the same issues,’ says Sykes of his client base, which includes entrepreneurs, sports personalities, film stars and hedge fund managers as well as the more traditional Saffery’s client base of international families, and landed estates. ‘While all my clients are concerned about passing on wealth, new moneyed clients are less attached to individual assets, so primogeniture isn’t something that comes up as much for them.’ Clients are increasingly worried about the CRS. ‘Whether or not they should be is a different matter – but there we are,’ says Sykes, adding that Saffery Champness has never done ‘racy’ tax schemes. Even so, aggressive […]

James Walker

Buzzacott

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

Following almost a decade in Jersey, Walker returned to the UK, where, after a stint as a non-dom specialist at an accountancy firm, he set up his own practice, which was rolled into Buzzacott in 2011. He now heads up the private client team and specialises in the UK taxation of offshore structures, advising settlors and beneficiaries, with a particular focus on UK non-doms. The drive towards transparency is ‘distasteful’, says Walker categorically. ‘On the one hand we have GDPR protecting personal data with significant penalties imposed on those who do not follow it, while on the other, we have a drive towards publicly available registers showing sensitive personal information and details of their assets. This is a significant risk to their safety.’ Changes to legislation regarding trusts have also been unhelpful, making trusts less accessible to those of more modest wealth and more valuable to those with more significant […]

Wendy Walton

BDO

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

‘I fell into it,’ says Wendy Walton, of her sparkling career as a tax accountant (she won Spear’s Private Client Accountant of the Year in 2014 and was made head of BDO Global Private Client Services in 2016). ‘BDO was my gap year before university. I loved the intellectual challenge of understanding the tax rules then – and here I still am, 31 years later.’ In the Eighties her role was particularly focused on UK individuals and families, whereas international entrepreneurs with complex tax affairs make up most of her client base today. The industry too, she says, is rapidly evolving. ‘There is clearly a strong link between tax and reputation management now, so it’s increasingly important that plans are scrutinised from all perspectives and that clients are fully comfortable with potential reputational issues,’ she observes. On the other hand, she’s keen to discourage misunderstandings over the CRS: ‘It’s about […]

Iain Younger

Frank Hirth

Top Recommended Tax Accountants

‘Never has it been more important within professional services to have a clear idea of what you can, and can’t offer,’ says Iain Younger,  Frank Hirth’s director, who believes in concise and honest advice, especially in the complex US-UK tax landscape where specialist knowledge is of particular importance. He warns that he has recently seen cases where ‘the dangers of “dabbling”’ have been ‘very evident’. US-UK advice is an area where Younger adds particular value for HNWs, especially at a time when transparency regimes such as FATCA and CRS continue to cause headaches. ‘They have certainly led to many cases of non-compliance being unearthed, but also cases of incomplete or incorrect compliance, where the complexities of the international space, both US and UK, are not a core focus,’ he explains to Spear’s. Younger advises on ‘a full range of issues’, from income tax through to death taxes, for an ‘eclectic’ […]

Top Six Contentious Trust Lawyers

Dawn Goodman

Withers

Top Six Contentious Trust Lawyers

Coming from a background in family law, Dawn Goodman was one of the first to specialise in private client work in the arena of succession and probate in the Eighties. ‘At law school I would have thought of it [succession and probate] as rather dusty and esoteric,’ she says. ‘I was so wrong. You’re constantly having to apply tried and tested principles to new situations. It’s intellectually challenging, there’s an international element, and it’s highly strategic.’ With experience of litigation in most offshore jurisdictions, as well as in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Goodman advises all parties in intricate matters relating to trusts, foundations, professional negligence, fraud or succession. When asked about her most memorable case, she cites a dispute between the Earl of Durham and his five sisters. The Earl had spent many years living in Italy, and there was a question over whether his estate was governed […]

Jeremy Gordon

Top Six Contentious Trust Lawyers

‘Very lively, very busy,’ is Farrer’s partner Jeremy Gordon’s description of his year, citing an increase in domestic wills disputes and inheritance tax claims. Why is that work on the increase? ‘Well, people prepare wills and trusts which they expect to stand up to scrutiny and sometimes human nature intervenes: families falling out, allegations of undue influence – and, more and more, capacity issues,’ Gordon explains. Such cases reflect, of course, an ageing population – and the increasingly drawn-out process of ageing itself. ‘When people get old, it’s a slow and uneven process and the law doesn’t really deal with that grey area when people become vulnerable and suggestible,’ he says. In such instances, undue influence can arise – but the law sets a high bar for that. ‘It’s difficult when advising,’ Gordon admits. ‘These disputes tend to bring out the worst in people,’ he adds. ‘Those who are otherwise […]

Graeme Kleiner

Charles Russell Speechlys

Top Six Contentious Trust Lawyers

Graeme Kleiner, head of contentious trusts and estates at Charles Russell Speechlys, ‘really knows his stuff and is fantastically good at soothing troubled waters’, according to one industry colleague. Department colleagues receive equally high praise from a loyal clientele, who recognise the firm’s status as one of the very best private client law firms in Britain. Kleiner trained in the contentious trusts and estates group at Withers, where he became partner before being recruited by Speechly Bircham to head up its contentious trusts and estates practice. He has been running the contentious trusts team at Charles Russell Speechlys since the firms merged in 2014. Recent cases for the expert in both domestic and international trust and succession disputes have involved parties located in multiple onshore and offshore jurisdictions. In addition, he has a growing practice in IFA disputes and handles fraud and professional negligence cases relating to trust, tax and […]

Charles Lloyd

Macfarlanes

Top Six Contentious Trust Lawyers

Urbane, with a calm confidential manner, Charles Lloyd is a much-liked figure in the profession. It’s a reputation born of hard work: ‘I’ve been quite busy for the last six months,’ he says, in a way which suggests he’s actually been very busy. ‘There are things I should do, like say “Hi” more often to my children.’ Yet the work is galvanising for him: ‘I’m not remotely complaining. It’s a privilege to have interesting work: I look at my partners doing banking transactions and I think, “I’m really lucky.”’ You can sense his slight regret that all his work is confidential, but he is discretion itself when he talks to Spear’s. ‘I’ve just been in Bermuda for a hearing on a trust matter,’ he says. ‘I’ve been dealing with a measure in the Court of Protection for someone who’s lost their capacity; I’ve been dealing with an important matter for  […]

Anthony Poulton

Baker McKenzie

Top Six Contentious Trust Lawyers

It doesn’t matter who you speak to, you’ll not hear a bad word about Anthony Poulton, who has built up a highly international practice based on exceptional skill and competence – as well as an amiable personality. Poulton’s clientele includes trustees, executors, protectors, beneficiaries and interested third parties. He’s known for handling work with a Middle East, Far East and Russia angle. For instance, he acted for a Jersey-based trustee in a complex $500 million fraud claim which spanned jurisdictions including Russia, Kazakhstan, England, Jersey, Guernsey and the BVI. That’s rarefied work – particularly when you throw in an overseas criminal investigation, as well as various asset-tracing and corporate law aspects. Poulton is currently acting for Grupo Torras SA in relation to the enforcement of an $800 million judgment over trust and personal assets in multiple jurisdictions following a fraud against the company by key management personnel. The settlement process […]

Rupert Ticehurst

Berwin Leighton Paisner

Top Six Contentious Trust Lawyers

Rupert Ticehurst has some excellent theories on what makes a good contentious lawyer: ‘If litigators were dogs, a client would need a mutt with a mix of qualities – not bred for anything in particular, and so able to adapt.’ While his background is in advising on non-contentious trusts, wills and tax planning, Ticehurst’s bread and butter has always been litigation. The two disciplines inform each other: as a private client lawyer he is well placed to foresee how a trust or estate may be attacked; as a litigator he understands why trusts are established and how they work in practice. Slutsker v Haron is perhaps his most memorable case. Here, he acted for the successful defendant in a matrimonial case: ‘Essentially two extremely wealthy people slugging out ownership of a £40 million London property.’ Ticehurst wishes clients would better understand that getting the most aggressive lawyer is unlikely to […]

Rising Stars

Barbara Marchant

Saffery Champness

Rising Stars

Barbara Marchant, this index’s rising star accountant, is candid about the tax landscape she’s been working in since 2002. ‘Every day is a school day for everybody – probably the whole profession feels like that at the moment,’ she tells us. She also welcomes the challenge of debunking what she calls ‘the longest legislation in the world’. A director in Saffery’s tax advisory team, Marchant advises a range of individuals, trustees and beneficiaries, with particular expertise in the res non-dom space. Economic uncertainty, she says, is pushing clients towards conservative but less convoluted planning methods. ‘Quite a lot are putting asset protection in place using structures but making sure they can unwind them and revert to something more simple if needed.’ Since some of Marchant’s clients have acquired their wealth over many generations – sometimes as many as six – she has to cater to a mix of modern and […]

Chris Moorcroft

Harbottle & Lewis

Rising Stars

There aren’t too many private client lawyers out there with solid experience in finance, but Chris Moorcroft, partner at Harbottle & Lewis, is one of them. ‘After qualification I went to Barclays Wealth, where I met Jonathan Burt. It was a fairly cut-throat environment, but it taught me commercial acumen.’ But it was at Harbottle where he really found his rhythm (‘I never looked back’). He was made partner after three and a half years: ‘I deal with clients from all over the world, but I have a particular interest in Africa, which marks me out a bit.’ Moorcroft is an exceptionally forward-thinking solicitor. Not only does he have an impressive client base in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda (‘security is a big concern – if you’re wealthy it marks you out as a client’), he also has a niche in fiduciary risk: ‘It’s an area I learned a lot […]

Rachel Morris

Charles Russell Speechlys

Rising Stars

Rachel Morris sits within the tax, trusts and succession planning team at Charles Russell Speechlys, into which she qualified in 2012. Her work focuses on advising individuals and families in relation to personal tax, wills, estate planning and planning for incapacity. She also advises trustees and banks on asset-holding structures, in particular trusts. ‘You have to like the academic side, have the base legal knowledge and technical ability, and on top of that be interested in people,’ she says. ‘It’s about meeting an individual, understanding their circumstances, and helping them plan for the future. No two are the same.’ Having spent time in the firm’s Geneva office, Morris is well versed in handling cases with an international element. These might involve helping individuals who are planning to move to the UK and may need pre-arrival tax planning advice, as well as advice on residence and domicile, trusts and other asset-holding […]



ICONS FROM 2016