Five-minute interview: Alison Broadberry, head of private client, Edwin Coe

Date: 01 Feb 2018

Bumblebee Design

Alison Broadberry, head of the private client team at Edwin Coe, tells Citywealth about trends in the property market and why she thinks the UK private wealth industry will thrive despite Brexit.

Tell me about your role at Edwin Coe

I am a private client partner advising my own clients and I am head of the private client team at Edwin Coe.  I joined over a year ago to lead and grow the unit and have hired four lawyers to bring the team to twenty at our Lincoln’s Inn offices.  Edwin Coe has just over 160 people in total with thirty-seven partners.


How has the private client industry changed? 

There have been several fundamental changes over the last decade including the significant rise in reporting requirements and compliance obligations, with FATCA, CRS and now the UK Trust Register, plus the knowledge that this information will be shared between authorities. UK clients are generally comfortable with the requirements but for certain international clients, this presents a real concern for their security. 

There has been a major shift in thinking that legitimate tax avoidance is as bad as tax evasion with the result that clients are wary of undertaking even straightforward tax planning. It means private client lawyers have had to become familiar with other structures such as private OEICs and family investment companies. Private client lawyers need to know much more about a broad range of subjects, regulations and processes, than they did ten years ago. 


Tell us about any interesting client stories

Clients will often have emotional outbursts, tears are not unusual but fortunately, I have only seen a couple of serious arguments between spouses in client meetings.  I once had a couple remember they owned a valuable property they had totally forgotten about.


Will the UK benefit from Brexit?

For the private client industry, a lot of incoming wealth continues to be from outside the EU.  Whatever the outcome of Brexit, I am sure the fundamentals will remain that the UK, and London in particular, will be an international hub of great appeal for wealthy clients, whether for business and investment, legal infrastructure, education for children, culture and relative safety. Clients, their families and assets are usually international, so there will always be tax, estate planning and asset protection to advise on.


What are the main challenges your clients face? 

There are significant inter-generational challenges now. Many clients are concerned that it is harder for the next generation(s) to be as successful or to get on the property ladder. 


What trends do you see?

There have been some interesting spin-off boutiques and at the other end of the spectrum, significant mergers.  Firms that got out of private client some time ago have started providing those services again.  The private client industry also continues to have a very broad church of clients, client needs and advisers. There are some interesting trends in the private client property market.  Property over the last ten years has become much more of a significant asset class of its own and as everyone knows, significant tax changes have been implemented to penalise this asset.  The result of this growth has seen the number of smaller, independent property finders and specialist finance arrangers increase.


Tell me about an achievement you are most proud of

It was a privilege and great honour to become head of the private client team at Speechly Bircham and to be the first female partner on Speechly’s board.  I am very pleased now to be head of the private client team at Edwin Coe and most enjoy creating excellent, happy and close-knit teams to work effectively together.


What was the last book you’ve read?

Why We Sleep by neuroscientist Matthew Walker, which is a fascinating book about the science of sleep.  Unfortunately, this book has confirmed that I seriously need to dispense with my long-held view that sleep was a design fault.


What do you do to unwind?

With so many demands and pressures, it is virtually impossible to unwind making distraction a good strategy. I find filing, tidying and spring cleaning therapeutic as well as getting out in the fresh air, or taking a stroll by the sea, river or in country lanes. All ideally followed up by a seat in front of a log fire and good food and wine with family and friends.