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‘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 a fulfilling environment for an adviser.’
He feels he has the non-dom changes in his rear-view mirror now: ‘Clients have got the advice they need.’ That’s not the case, however with the CRS: ‘It’s an ongoing battle. Many trustees are grappling with it, and the guidance is unclear.’ He adds that this has led to clients looking to ‘consolidate and simplify their affairs.’
Cohen is kindly and level-headed, but even he, with all his acumen and good humour, would welcome a ‘period of certainty’.