‘Chaos sometimes works well for lawyers,’ the ebullient Jonathan Conder tells Spear’s when asked about the past year. It’s not been as chaotic as 2017, he says, but less chaos doesn’t mean things haven’t been busy – the department posted record revenues in the previous year. ‘I’m not sure how much busier I can get,’ he jokes. Conder stepped down as head of practice last year to focus solely on client work. He advises family offices and private banks on all aspects of tax, trust, estate and succession planning, regulatory, immigration and philanthropic issues, as well as assisting families and trustees in resolving disputes. A former in-house counsel in Bermuda, Conder has expertise in advising private banks and clients on family matters, often across complex cross-border issues. The department is developing its work with institutions and has seen a ‘significant’ increase in asset manager and banking clients. There’s also been […]
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 Advisers 2019
‘For owners of family businesses, the political and economic upheavals of the last year increased the focus on protecting wealth long-term,’ says Boodle Hatfield’s Hayden Bailey. ‘Clients are focused on preservation of wealth, but at the same time do not want asset protection structures to create a compliance burden that stifles the ability to make commercial decisions.’ At 43, Bailey says he is the right age to bridge the gap between the baby boomer wealth creators and their millennial children. ‘If the children don’t trust my advice, things can fall apart,’ he says. ‘It is important that they are brought in early and understand the reason the structures are there.’
‘If you have assets in the UK, it’s better if they’re out,’ warns Mark Buzzoni of Taylor Wessing. ‘I suspect that if we’re going into a general election quite shortly there won’t be much time to do anything. An incoming government would probably slap on capital controls pretty quickly.’ An expert in tax, trusts and family governance issues, Buzzoni has a predominantly international client base. He believes political uncertainty has got people thinking harder about asset protection. ‘People are coming to me saying, “Right, let’s talk about Corbyn, let’s talk about divorce, and let’s make sure that all of our financial structures are robust enough to withstand that sort of upheaval.”’
Rather than follow in her parents’ footsteps into law, Clare Hetherington instead chose to study music at Oxford. After a few years working for a concert venue, however, she decided that she wanted to ‘really challenge myself, properly test my brain’. She took annual leave to do internships at different law firms (‘I used that a lot in early interviews to prove my dedication’) and got a training contract in 2014 at Payne Hicks Beach. Private client work struck her immediately as the area she wanted to be in: ‘It’s a mix of rigorous analysis and attention to detail, combined with interacting with a range of clients from all over the world and adapting your advice to suit them.’
Caroline Le Jeune is a formidable partner in the private client world, having overseen succession planning advisory at BDO as well as specialising in chartered tax advisory at PwC for a decade. A qualified solicitor, she joined Blick’s in 2014, where she now focuses on international families. ‘Preparing for a Corbyn government has been a big theme,’ says Le Jeune, who has been busy helping HNWs structure offshore assets and find the best tax jurisdictions should the need to move arise. She adds that the UK needs to be careful to protect its attractiveness as a jurisdiction for HNWs: ‘We need to ensure that they continue to come here, pay taxes, set up businesses and invest.’
‘The complexity of our tax system is now combined with increasing HMRC scrutiny,’ observes Paul Ayres, who oversees all manner of HNW affairs for BDO from his role as head of private client services. Ayres deals with a ‘real mix’ of cases, which has led to growth in billings for his team of more than 10 per cent in the past year. Judging from the accolades his leadership has received recently, including the STEP Accountancy Team of the Year award, there is even more room for optimism for 2020 and beyond. ‘There’s plenty more to go,’ he predicts. Such enthusiasm is vital for a firm that focuses on entrepreneurial clients and their businesses. Ayres recalls the coming together of the previously disparate units serving private clients at BDO when he joined in 2001: ‘It led to a period of phenomenal growth as we continued to hire and expand throughout the […]
History graduate Suzanna Baker studied for her GDL and LPC at the College of Law in Bloomsbury, but spent some time at a boutique corporate finance firm before joining Osbornes. She now credits her spell in finance with providing a ‘breadth of knowledge’ that has come in useful more than once in her private client work. Baker often works on Court of Protection matters, where decisions about an individual or their estate must be made when they lack the mental capacity to do so for themselves. ‘It can be very stressful for families,’ says Baker, ‘and it’s something that’s easy to identify with. Most people’s lives will be touched by this at some point.’
Withers partner Christina Baltz has broad and varied experience, thanks to a career that has spanned senior roles at leading law firms as well as financial institutions. As a result, she has the perspective to lay out the most effective and practical solutions and strategies for clients, which range from international individuals to family offices, business owners and charities. Baltz’s expertise is also regularly sought by media outlets such as Fox Business and the New York Times. In a recent article she commented on the consequences of a change to US tax law that altered the role of trusts and their effect on alimony payments.
Change is afoot, says Rawlinson & Hunter’s David Barker, as the relationship between HMRC and the accountancy profession has got ‘appreciably worse’. That’s in large part because of ‘aggression’ on the part of HMRC, which has begun to target many of Barker’s nom-dom clients with onerous enquiries. Often one comes hot on the heels of another, necessitating the submission of the same information more than once. ‘I do think it’s counterproductive for them,’ he says. Barker works closely with non-dom clients to help them understand and respond to approaches from the taxman. ‘We’ve had some notable wins on those domicile enquiries,’ he says.
Stephanie Brobbey’s star has risen rapidly at Goodman Derrick. Her promotion to senior associate in 2016 broadened her practice further to include many of late founder Lord Goodman’s former clients. Operating in the private client arena gives her ‘a perfect mixture of being in an academic discipline’ and the ability to focus on ‘human relationships’. Brobbey advises on a range of issues, including philanthropy. She says real alternatives to charitable giving have emerged that can create more impact, offer anonymity and decrease the administrative burden: ‘I think it’s going to change even more as the younger generations come into more wealth.’
A regular fixture in our top ten, Robert Brodrick has reached a position of considerable eminence in his field – as ratified recently by his appointment as chair of Payne Hicks Beach’s newly established management board. When Spear’s caught up with him at a breakfast, he showed no signs of slowing down his client work as a result of this promotion. ‘My main specialisms are Middle Eastern clients, US/UK clients and landed estate owners,’ he says. ‘I work closely with our contentious trust team.’ Of course, it’s been a busy few years. ‘We continue to deal with the after-effects of the 2017 non-dom changes with advice to clients on “cleansing” their mixed funds,’ he notes. Brodrick started off at Withers, before joining Trowers & Hamlins in 2004. In 2012, he moved to Payne Hicks Beach with a small team and has been a partner ever since. Politics-wise, he sees more […]
The idea of a wealth tax doesn’t impress Jonathan Burt. There is, he tells Spear’s, ‘an obvious answer to that particular conundrum’. ‘There’s no reason why – if you feel that you’re not paying enough tax – you shouldn’t be writing out a cheque to the IRS voluntarily.’ However, he admits: ‘I suppose it’s something one could foretell, for the simple reason that taxing income, gains and the profits of economic activity seems to be insufficient to make up the numbers.’ Burt, who joined Harbottle & Lewis as a partner in May 2018, has relished the opportunity to broaden his focus. On the subject of prospects in post-Brexit Britain, he is unambiguously bullish: ‘It’s exciting.’
Saffery Champness has grown considerably over the past 12 months – ‘double-digit growth’, according to Dermot Callinan, a private client tax partner based in the Harrogate office. ‘Our client base in the North is very varied but all of them are very entrepreneurial,’ he says. ‘We have just completed on the sale of Hadrian Healthcare Holdings Ltd for over £100 million to an institutional investor and a not-for-profit operator. Our role in the financial structuring was instrumental to the deal, according to the founder and CEO.’ When we ask if his businessowner clients are concerned about Brexit, he says: ‘I think people have got used to Brexit uncertainty, and they’ve got used to the fact that our relationship with Europe will never be the same – that’s reflected in our currency already to a large extent.’ Are clients tempted to move their money offshore? ‘The jurisdictions which have proved in […]
‘We’re seeing the work become really international,’ says the affable, thoughtful Russell Cohen, a long-standing partner at Farrer. Increasingly, his clients might not ‘necessarily have anything to do with the UK. They just think there’s expertise here in truststructuring and an instinct for tax.’ Cohen works with a number of Middle Eastern families on international structuring, family succession and family governance. A typical piece of work might allow for the fact that a client has six daughters and wants to control the allocation of assets among them, in a manner that might not usually be possible under sharia law. ‘Clients are now getting to grips with transparency,’ he says. ‘There’s no longer an expectation that affairs will be kept completely private.’ New regulation, he warns, ‘isn’t always done correctly, by people who understand trusts and the consequences that the loose dissemination of information might have for very wealthy people’. ‘There […]
‘I’ve been phenomenally busy,’ says Ashley Crossley, a dual qualified solicitor and barrister, who leads Baker McKenzie’s wealth management arm in the London office. He’s seen inflows of restructuring requests from family offices, as well as a significant amount of ‘aggressive’, multijurisdictional tax litigation. The increasing scrutiny on offshore entities means families are onshoring, he says, increasing their presence in ‘stable’ financial centres such as London and New York. It makes the ‘brand’ stronger, he says. ‘It’s more regulated, but it gives them a badge of approval.’ This positioning makes business with the rest of the world easier. The international nature of Crossley’s practice means clients don’t see Brexit as a bad thing. ‘They think the UK may be more attractive for them after Brexit than now,’ he reveals. ‘Their view is, once the UK leaves the European Union, it will have to be more competitive globally, because it will […]
‘The Revenue are being as belligerent as they’ve ever been’, says Victor Dauppe, who this year has taken on a specialist investigator and negotiator with a ‘very detailed knowledge of Revenue powers’ to help him on cases. ‘Most people don’t know exactly what the Revenue powers are, so people just do as they say. It’s great to have someone who can say with authority, “Actually you don’t need to give them that.”’ Dubbed by peers as a ‘hugely knowledgeable corporate and general tax specialist’, Dauppe is Arram Berlyn Gardner’s top man for personal and corporate tax. His client base is entrepreneurial and is attracted to ABG’s highly commercial brand of advice. In his experience, many of his HNW clients are feeling cautiously optimistic about doing business in a post-Brexit Britain. ‘We’ve got a surprising amount of people who are expanding their business in these uncertain times and are looking into […]
‘Brexit, Brexit, Brexit,’ Mark Davies tells Spear’s of clients’ concerns. ‘Obviously the political uncertainty in the UK is causing some problems, mainly because foreign domiciliaries need a stable tax regime and immigration rules to make long-term decisions – and they feel a change in government could lead to further changes in tax and immigration law.’ Aside from the potential chaos, Davies is happy to report another ‘excellent year’ for his firm: ‘Our best year financially, and already we are in double-digit growth.’ ‘We are a firm of chartered tax advisers focused exclusively on individuals, trustees and their advisers,’ he says of the boutique. ‘Most people do not know the difference between tax planning, tax avoidance and tax evasion – and neither does the government. Many of my friends criticise me because I help rich people pay less tax. But I fundamentally believe in the rule of law and that nobody […]
A partner in Baker McKenzie’s esteemed tax and global wealth management practice in New York, Paul DePasquale advises HNWs and multinationals on a diverse range of issues relating to tax and wealth management. Specialisms include international and domestic tax planning, cross-border transactions and investments, and wealth management. Formerly stationed in the firm’s Zurich and Hong Kong offices, he also advises US inbound and outbound international tax issues for multinational corporations and investment funds. He has ‘significant’ experience advising financial institutions on issues such as the Common Reporting Standard and strategy.
The cover star of this index is leaning nonchalantly against a tree in Lincoln’s Inn Square, trying to figure out the best way of crossing her arms without looking too fierce. This is not a usual morning for Sophie Dworetzsky, but her move from Withers – after 16 years – to Charles Russell Speechlys is generating interest within the tax and trusts world. ‘CRS are a really exciting firm,’ she says. ‘They have that combination of having an incredibly strong private client department and a very strong commercial practice.’ She believes the business world and the private client world are growing ever closer, and the cusp between the two is the best place to be. ‘I’ll be a partner in private clients but working very closely with the commercial and corporate tax teams – for me it’s pretty much perfect,’ she says. With wealth increasingly tied to business, Dworetzsky says […]
A partner at the exceptionally discreet Currey & Co, Sabina Fortescue specialises in private client trust, probate and wills work as well as general family, charity and tax issues. Founded in 1812, the firm serves clients who are ‘land-owning and other families throughout the country’. ‘We offer our clients strategic advice tailored to their specific needs, focused on protecting wealth for successive generations,’ the firm says. ‘We are rarely able to take on discrete pieces of work for individuals with whom we have no previous association.’ Fortescue, a former trainee at Goodman Derrick who has also worked at Taylor Wessing and Rickerbys, joined the firm in 2012.
‘It’s been an interesting year,’ says Spear’s contributor, award winner and industry grandee Ceris Gardner. ‘When there are problems, or the country is in a bit of turmoil, we tend to have work to do.’ Gardner is one of the most experienced and renowned experts when it comes to advising on tax, estate planning, family governance, charity law, philanthropy and immigration. It’s been a year dominated by client worries on Corbyn and Brexit, and Gardner has also been kept busy with a number of immigration and real estate cases. ‘It’s not putting off people coming to the UK in the same numbers’ as some predictions, Gardner tells Spear’s. Clients include UK and non-UK domiciled and resident individuals, families, estates and trustees, covering UK and international tax and succession issues, establishing UK and offshore trusts, family limited partnerships and other crossborder asset-holding structures. ‘She’s a good thinker and listener, very wise, […]
‘We’ve been doing a lot of thinking ahead about how the private client tax world is going to look in the future,’ Mishcon’s head of tax Andrew Goldstone tells Spear’s. Clients are expressing more demand for ‘consultative services’. Goldstone regularly advises on residence and domicile issues, including the statutory residence test, business investment relief and offshore trusts. His department’s flexibility enables it to assist on a broad range of client needs, including tax reliefs and tax-efficient investments. Philanthropy is a particular interest. ‘I’m very keen on tracking how those with money are changing their views on how to do good,’ he adds.
It’s full speed ahead for Benjamin Grist, who has been particularly busy with the ‘increasing complexity’ of tax legislation and ‘toughening approach’ from HMRC, where he has received a lot of new enquiries. The Dixon Wilson partner is well equipped to deal with the load, having more than 15 years’ experience in the international aspects of UK taxation as well as tax residence, domicile and the remittance basis of taxation. ‘We are always in touch with our clients, so we always know what is going on,’ says Grist. Advisory is more than just delivering reports – it’s also ‘about being able to sit down and speak plain English to people’.
Mark Harris, Rawlinson & Hunter’s London liaison partner, comes highly recommended by a partner at a top City firm. As well as covering all elements of UK tax, Harris also oversees the progress of the firm’s offices in Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands. Although it has a significant corporate services department, R&H is predominantly a private client practice. ‘It permeates everything we do,’ Harris previously told Spear’s. ‘Of the private client firms we probably have the greatest exposure to offshore work, having originally set up our Bermuda office in the late 1950s. That specialisation continues into much of the work that we do.’
It’s been a year of navigating opportunity within uncertainty for James Hender, a nominee for our 2018 Private Client Accountant of the Year award, who heads up Saffery Champness’s excellent private wealth team. ‘We’ve been particularly busy with revenue work and with other big tax changes,’ he tells Spear’s. Many of his HNW clients have started their own businesses, where he works closely with them on a range of commercial issues. Hender is pragmatic on Brexit. ‘People will either see it as an opportunity or a threat to the country,’ he says, pointing to potential changes to the inheritance tax regime ‘no matter what government is in power’.
Deloitte’s vice chairman and head of family office services Paula Higgleton has specialised in advising families for 25 years. ‘Our role is really guiding families and making sure that they can respond to any changes that come down in the pipeline that we need to be aware of,’ she tells Spear’s. Higgleton heads up a team that helps clients create structures to effectively manage and preserve wealth. The firm’s family office consulting team, established in 2017, is going ‘great guns’, Higgleton is pleased to report. Family offices, she says ‘need to be designed in a bespoke way’ for each client. ‘When someone says they want to create a family office it’s a bit like saying, “I want a car” – there are so many questions that you could ask.’ It’s been a busy year for the firm, as it deals with ‘various political and economic issues’ affecting its international clientele. […]
Craig Hughes joined Menzies in 2016 as private client tax director, after spells at two of the Big Four accountancy firms. In 2017 – aged just 32 – he was made partner at the firm, where he works with a range of HNW clients, including entrepreneurs, international singers, sports stars, corporate executives, non-UK domiciliaries and private equity executives. His skills cover strategic tax planning, estate and inheritance tax planning, international tax structuring and all aspects of personal taxation. He is also a qualified probate practitioner. Hughes attended Manchester University, where he was awarded a first-class degree in economics.
Geraint Jones is known as a safe pair of hands. Advising clients on their income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax, he specialises in finding solutions to improve tax efficiency for people with multiple assets and sources of income. Jones cites the ever-increasing demand for his services as a result of ‘fewer and fewer firms being able to offer what we offer, what today’s private clients are looking for: an in-depth service that covers tax, trusts and estates, and a service where the technical expertise also comes with a personal, human interest’. Perhaps this is why clients have followed him throughout his career, ‘across three moves in 20-plus years’.
Former EY partner David Kilshaw ‘retired’ from the firm’s private client tax practice in June 2018, but he was always expected to return in some form or other. He recently told Spear’s that, a decade or so ago, if he’d said to a client ‘Your tax bill wasn’t zero,’ they’d have fired him. But things have changed and the reverse is now true. ‘The “Daily Mail test” has definitely gone into the tax lexicon,’ he added, likening the change of attitudes to the smoking ban. Kilshaw joined Rawlinson & Hunter in February as senior adviser. One of his colleagues there is Toby Crooks, who joined the firm straight out of university. Once recognised by Spear’s as a rising star, Crooks is now a partner. A senior lawyer at a respected City firm describes him as ‘quirky, but very good’, adding: ‘We recommended him to a client who we thought would […]
It’s been a busy year for Sue Laing, who has been advising clients on the changing legislative framework. She provides guidance on succession planning, long-term asset protection, capital and income taxes, trusts, private companies, partnerships and the family businesses themselves. Laing has noticed an increased amount of ‘tax tinkering’, making it harder for HNWs to plan their affairs sensibly. ‘There seems to be a never-ending stream of consultations on possible further tax changes, some despite similar recent exercises – two recent examples being the consultation on IHT and trusts and the OTS [Office of Tax Simplification] report on IHT,’ she tells Spear’s.
Christiana Lazo runs an established practice that analyses sophisticated tax and estate plans for family offices, entrepreneurs and their various businesses. She notices that subtlety is an emerging trait among structures, as HNWs are ‘consolidating and eliminating entities where they don’t serve a true purpose’. Cases are becoming more intergenerational, often with younger generations who are US citizens while the original wealth creators are from abroad. ‘People are living longer, so there are more voices in the room,’ she says. ‘If the first generation wants to spend more and more time in the US when they age, the tax implications can create a complicated situation.
The personable Greg Limb has 25 years’ experience in tax, including a spell acting as an adviser to HMRC. He now heads KPMG’s London private client team, advising individuals, family offices, entrepreneurs and private equity executives on personal tax. The Yorkshireman operates in landscapes of ‘tremendous wealth creation’, with HNW clients in the Middle East, Russia, the US and Europe. He looks forward to the prospect of the ‘great wealth transfer’, where a wealth creator passes down their assets to the younger members of the family. Rather than simplifying the complexity of the UK’s tax regulation, Limb is an advocate of ‘harmonising’ the rules instead.
Deloitte tax consultant Lucy Lukic first worked at the Big Four firm in 2012, in its scholar programme, joining full-time in 2016 as an analyst. ‘I support the partners in acting as an adviser on tax affairs as well as with wider aspects such as family dynamics,’ she says. She has noticed a lot of discussions around succession planning, as well as more families looking to ‘professionalise’ their wealth holding structures. It’s a job Lukic relishes. ‘It’s such a people and client-focused role,’ she tells Spear’s. ‘Our clients are all so different, they operate in such different industries and worlds that it’s the variety – no two clients are the same and no two days are the same.’
Despite the uncertainties around Brexit, specialist partner Piers Master, who heads the international private wealth arm at Charles Russell Speechlys, says ‘a number of major families are moving to the UK’. This influx of activity from Middle Eastern and US clients has resulted in his ‘busiest ever year’. Meanwhile, political uncertainty is pressing British families to focus more on wealth structuring and planning. With changes affecting trusts and IHT on the way, Master says the capital gains landscape ‘looks particularly benign’. ‘Many clients are therefore bringing forward gifts and other planning to take advantage of the current regime,’ he notes.
‘Choppy waters ahead is the ancipation,’ Clare Maurice tells Spear’s when asked for her short-to-medium-term outlook. The possibility of a Corbyn government and greater uncertainty are the two things her clients are worried about. ‘An awful lot of it is crystal-ball gazing,’ she adds. It’s been a busy year for Maurice, who founded the firm ten years ago after leaving Allen & Overy, where she was the first woman to be made partner. The firm also appointed the eminent Rupert Ticehurst earlier this year to head up its disputes team, and there’s been a raft of new business coming from around the world. ‘Uncertainty and political turmoil tend to generate anxiety,’ she says
David Mellor was appointed partner at Dixon Wilson 20 years ago, and he’s developed an acute understanding of what clients appreciate when it comes to achieving their objectives. ‘I try hard to avoid jargon,’ he says. ‘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.’ This approach helps with complex issues in taxation, where Mellor works especially on inheritance and capital gains tax, corporate tax and VAT. Fortunately, he’s no stranger to problemsolving: he also has a degree in aeronautical engineering.
A private client partner in Withers’ esteemed tax team, Patricia Milner advises on tax, trust and estate planning for both UK and non-UK resident and domiciled individuals. It’s been another year characterised by the uncertain political climate. ‘The biggest issue for clients is not so much Brexit but a possible change in government,’ she tells Spear’s. It’s partially for that reason that some clients are actively undertaking succession plans ‘when the rules are known’ and their implications understood. There has also been a move towards more simplified structures as clients look to the future and long-term wealth preservation, adds Milner.
‘We’ve been blown away by the quality of the clients,’ Julian Nelberg remarks to Spear’s. The former PwC rising star joined the US firm in January to help consolidate its UK base and hasn’t looked back since. ‘We have a large number of billionaire clients,’ he adds. ‘It comes down the strength of the Andersen brand and the network and quality of the clients they have in the States.’ Head of the private client group, Nelberg covers a range of tax matters relating to US and UK issues, including complex crossborder issues. Perhaps surprisingly, he’s noticing a steady stream of clients coming into the UK, which he says is ‘still a very competitive tax environment’ for new arrivals.
Bart Peerless is an eminent partner who looks after some of the wealthiest and most complex families in the world. He describes the firm as a ‘top-tier’ practice for private clients, for that reason. ‘We continue to do a wonderful mix of work,’ he enthuses. An active practitioner, Peerless is proud that he spends ‘each and every day keeping up the momentum necessary to deliver progress’. Tenacity is needed to keep up with increased levels of instability and uncertainty on a global scale, he says: ‘[HNWs] seek our help in positioning themselves against risk. The various tax information exchange measures now in place between jurisdictions have also driven simplification and rationalisation of offshore structures – a process we have seen for a few years now.’ Peerless says Charles Russell Speechlys is well equipped to help clients solve cross-border tax and wealth planning problems worldwide, as it has strategically headquartered within […]
Robert Pullen, 31, is the youngest partner in Blick Rothenberg’s history. A graduate with a civil engineering and architecture background, he started his career in private client tax at Deloitte, before leaving for a boutique single-family office in Tunbridge Wells and then joining Blick’s. ‘A lot of partners here are ex-Big Four,’ he says, ‘so there’s a lot of expertise and knowledge, and a more entrepreneurial approach.’ How have things changed for Pullen since his promotion in July 2018? ‘The buck stops with you,’ he says. ‘You make the calls and you make the decisions, and you have the final say.’ And most importantly, he adds, ‘You have to get it right’.
Stephenson Harwood’s head of private client has always been a cerebral and outspoken practitioner in the field, having famously defended David Cameron’s offshore funds in a live argument with John Humphrys. James Quarmby pulls no punches in his most recent catch-up with Spear’s. Having seen a rise in ‘nudge letters’ and the increased use of suspended penalties by HMRC, he gives a stark warning against its newly set up HNW unit, which he says is coughing up ‘quite a staggering amount of money’. ‘That’s really a VIP club you never want to join,’ he says. ‘You’ll get your own dedicated inspector, who you can bet is going to be trawling through your tax return every year with a microscope. ‘They will give you all sorts of warm words, but what that means is they’re just going to turn the heat on you massively, and try to squeeze extra tax out […]
With more than 25 years of experience in HNW affairs, Carolyn Reers joined Wiggin and Dana as a private client partner in February, where she supplies her expertise in all aspects of trust and estate planning and administration. ‘Carolyn is a leading private client services attorney with a national and international reputation and an impressive client base,’ said the firm’s managing partner Paul Hughes. Private client chair Len Leader added: ‘Her arrival enhances our ability to deliver the best possible legal services to our clients.’ A former managing director at JP Morgan, Reers is also an expert in succession planning, charitable giving and family office services.
John Riches is an expert in some of the most complex areas of tax and holds a unique place in the industry. RMW Law’s private client and tax consultant is both a practitioner and trusted adviser to HNWs, as well as a consultant to STEP. He deals with cross-border operations and structuring for a range of international and largely entrepreneurial families. He’s told Spear’s that the domestic trusts register is a ‘messy’ affair that has ‘taken things to a whole new level’. However, he adds: ‘We’re thinking about structural designs for the future and we’re working to add beneficiary powers to begin with. I’m up to date on the thinking with policymakers, and it’s helping me with clients.’
Marc Rinaldi is the partner-incharge of PKF O’Connor Davies, an accounting and advisory firm that ‘holds itself to a higher standard – going beyond passive value calculation to active value creation’. Rinaldi is known for his expertise in sustainable investing, alternative investment accounting, reporting and valuation, due diligence, portfolio performance and risk reporting. His background in finance – he has worked in hedge funds and as a director of strategic trading at Bank of America – means he is in a strong position to advise clients such as family offices, private foundations, endowments, and private equity, hedge funds, venture capital, infrastructure and real estate funds.
Two years into her role as head of the Big Four firm’s private client services division, things are busier than ever for Nicola Roberts – but she’s not complaining. ‘It’s a very clients and people-focused role, which I enjoy,’ she says. It’s been a meteoric rise for Roberts, who became one of Deloitte’s youngest ever partners in 2011. Leading the firm’s relationship with private clients, she has played a pivotal role in serving a global clientele. Client-facing throughout her career, Roberts works with a broad set of family offices and HNWs, with a particular speciality in international entrepreneurs. A large part of her role is navigating the uncertainty caused by government policy changes and how they are affecting the affairs of clients. ‘They don’t like lots of change, be that in relation to economics or fiscal policy, for example,’ she explains. ‘My role is making sure we are being proactive […]
Nick Rucker, the national head of the London tax, trusts and estates team at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth, specialises in international structuring for HNW individuals and families. He recently handled the estate of a deceased husband and wife, whose children and grandchildren were domiciled in various jurisdictions. ‘The family wished to make significant contributions to various global charities, as well as make provision for the deceased’s children and grandchildren,’ he explains. Rucker came up with a solution: ‘Eventually the estates were varied to allow for distributions to be made to over 25 individuals and charities resident in more than six different jurisdictions.’
Simon Rylatt has just been through a caseload of international trust projects featuring themes such as restructurings, governance reviews and investment approach arrangements. Despite new areas of interest, simplicity in tax and estate structures is uppermost in the minds of the complex clients he looks after. ‘It’s partly driven because the financial implications of running really complicated structures are now quite significant,’ he reveals. Rylatt doesn’t operate solely as a tax and trust lawyer to his clients, as relationships naturally deepen. ‘As part of your advisory role, you do get involved in other aspects of their lives,’ he says.
Make hay while the sun shines. That, in effect is Alexandra Sarkis’s advice to many of her clients. ‘Now is still a very benign climate for tax planning,’ she says. ‘Generally, we’re advising our clients to take advantage. Capital gains is low, and it’s only going to go one way.’ By contrast, inheritance planning has become more restrictive. ‘But we still have the ability to make exempt transfers, so we’re encouraging our clients to do that while we still can.’ Sarkis became a partner at May, May & Merrimans in 1984 and was made joint head of department when the firm merged with Hunters in 2015. As well as tax and trust work, she also specialises in estate planning and wills.
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 and a nominee for Private Client Accountant of the Year at last year’s Spear’s Wealth Management Awards, Shepard often deals with probate matters and the administration of estates and tax planning. 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.
The Common Reporting Standard can make things tricky for clients, says Daniel Sopher, who has been running Sopher + Co since 2014. ‘Often they have to prove that something isn’t taxable. It can be difficult to prove a negative, but we have to give HMRC confidence that everything is above board.’ Sopher spends much of his time mediating, and prides himself on his ability to foresee issues and prepare accordingly – unlike our recent government. ‘I think certain taxes are causing markets to behave dysfunctionally,’ he tells Spear’s. ‘The high level of stamp duty on real estate is affecting the market; it’s actually raising less.’ Something for our new prime minister to ponder…
‘It’s very much been a question of people trying to make sure that their affairs are organised in a flexible and agile way so that they can deal with whatever comes at them from a political point of view,’ says Lisa Spearman, who has been a partner at Mercer & Hole since 2003. ‘I’ve got a number of clients who are leaving because they dislike the uncertainty of Brexit or their immigration status is uncertain.’ When Spear’s asks about what one can do to protect assets from political risk, she responds, after a pause: ‘It’s actually more about what you don’t do. You don’t, for example, set up a trust when you might move to a non-trust-friendly jurisdiction.’
Clare Stirzaker is excited by two highlights this year, the first being the ‘notable hiring’ of James Badcock, a ‘well respected’ legal practitioner from Collyer Bristow. The second is the growing demand for family office support in the West African market, which she noticed while travelling across the Middle East and Africa. ‘We are supporting an increasing number of UK and international families in developing their vision and values for the future,’ Stirzaker says. Her role at the Big Four firm is to ensure that multigenerational family members agree on key principles around owning and managing their business and wealth, which is then documented in family constitutions. PwC’s family office leader and tax partner has a unique blend of skills. She is lauded for combining the financial nous she acquired at Barclays’ international wealth arm with the legal knowledge she honed at Baker McKenzie. As a result, she is known […]
Having worked in the industry for 22 years, Dixon Wilson partner Jon Sutton advises on matters including landed estates, personal tax, trusts and capital tax planning. He also works with businesses and entrepreneurs – both on and offshore – providing valuation and commercial advice to clients and their boards. In 2007, Sutton became deputy chair of the STEP Family Business Group, a committee focusing on what makes business families distinct, their particular challenges and how to best address them. Known for his collaborative approach, he comes highly recommended by peers and clients alike.
‘Katten is unique in that it is a full-service firm,’ says Kathryn von Matthiessen. The company has 700 attorneys – all with varying specialisms. Von Matthiessen’s focus is on sophisticated personal and estate planning for HNWs, as well as the administration of complex estates and trusts. Her clients are often foreign families with connections to the US and she works on ‘inbound’ planning – helping to prepare for the tax implications of personal or professional arrangements in the States. Many clients are concerned with ‘dynastic’ wealth transfers. ‘A lot of times it’s dealing with wealth transfers in a way that’s tax-efficient,’ she says.
Spear’s manages to catch up with Wedlake Bell’s head of private client despite her busy schedule, and finds her in a celebratory mood after achieving success for one of the wealthiest people in the world. ‘I was taking a bottle of champagne to a colleague of mine,’ she says, explaining her slight tardiness. ‘We’ve just completed on a £50 million penthouse!’ Such transactions may not be one-offs, since Camilla Wallace reports significant relocations to London, some of those enquiring being ‘exceptionally wealthy’ families. For the international community, Brexit is hardly a problem in their context. ‘One of the [Turkish] family members looked at me and said, “Look, if you want political uncertainty, you go and live under Erdogan, where you can be locked up overnight.”’ Still, Wallace’s British clients do fear what she calls ‘Red Brexit’ – ‘a mismanaged Tory Brexit, which leads to Corbyn’. For them, preparations are under […]
Wendy Walton is in celebratory mood following the success of BDO’s merger with Moore Stephens, which sets it on a path to deliver £590 million more in revenue. ‘It’s been fantastic for our business,’ she exclaims, describing it as her proudest moment of the past year. This is good news for the wider network of businesses Walton oversees too, in her position as the head of global private client services. This arm of the company looks after the needs of some of its wealthiest and most ambitious and entrepreneurial clients. It also means HNWs are able to access senior strategists such as Walton ‘without layers of bureaucracy’. ‘Our purpose is to help HNWs succeed,’ she says. ‘We do this by building long-term relationships and bring new ideas to the table.’ Recent conversations have revealed increasing interest and concern around areas involving capital preservation and succession matters. Walton is one of […]
The head of the private client department at Taylor Wessing, Nick Warr notes a ‘growing professionalism’ among his clients regarding their tax, governance and inheritance affairs. ‘People are much more aware of the need to preserve wealth – it’s become part of their business strategy,’ he says. His practice is predominantly international. When it comes to the UK, he says, ‘there’s probably more of an exodus rather than inbound flow – particularly in the financial services industry’. ‘From a perspective of another reasonably benign jurisdiction, the UK looks choppy. If the UK becomes more expensive than France, eyebrows will be raised. The US is on an upwards trajectory, both from a capital perspective and also people moving there.’ Warr, named tax and trust lawyer of the year at the 2018 Spear’s Wealth Management Awards, continues to live up to his strong reputation. His client base consists of business owners, finance […]
‘I think there are all sorts of ways that the UK is attractive, and has remained attractive despite various tax changes that are against nondoms,’ says Simon Weil, whose practice spans everything from contentious trusts to advising the government on charitable tax vehicles and representing sophisticated global givers. However, a Labour government could cause an exodus. ‘The really big clients who have the resources are seeking contingency arrangements, so that if a nightmare were to arise on election night, they’d have everything in place to export,’ he says. ‘The Laffer curve point is often overlooked, but often when you bring taxes down you actually collect more tax.’
Suzanne Willis thinks of many of her clients as ‘being in the middle of the Atlantic’ – because of the way that business interests and family relationships tend to push and pull them from the UK to the US and back again. Willis has practised both UK and US tax since 1997 but tells Spear’s the past year has been a ‘surprising’ one, as she has had to help clients get to grips with a series of tax changes on both sides of the Atlantic. Brexit, however, is not a major concern for her clients: ‘They think if we stay or if we leave, there’s opportunity one way or the other.’ However, she does admit that the prospect of a socialist government and ‘the rates that are bandied around’ in terms of tax have begun to make some people nervous. The best thing to do now, she says, is ‘to […]
Frank Hirth experienced the tragic loss of the eminent Paul Hocking earlier this year, in an accident in Lesotho, where he was conducting philanthropic activities. Despite this, Iain Younger tells Spear’s that the strong foundations and ‘technical excellence’ Hocking had installed has enabled the firm to continue growing. Younger continues to address ‘diverse and complex’ client situations, including matters related to information-sharing programmes. He emphasises that he has a duty to dispel ‘many of the myths’ around US and UK international tax: ‘It is extremely important to ensure that the industry grows and quality advisers come to the fore.’