Keeping onside with the taxman

Date: 13 Oct 2017

Bumblebee Design

David Kilshaw, tax partner and head of the family office practice at EY, tells Citywealth about winning a heavyweight boxing champion as a client, trends in the trust sector, and his football club.


Tell me about your role at EY.

I am a tax partner in EY’s private client team where I lead our family office practice and advise non-doms, entrepreneurs and trustees.


How has the private client industry changed?

A change in the “A word”. We have moved from an era where clients wanted avoidance so to pay the lowest amount of tax to an era where they want quality administration. Clients now want to be secure with robust structures.


Tell us some client stories.

My most memorable pitch was to a heavyweight boxing champion. He was the biggest guy I have ever met but bought his mum to the meeting. She was tiny. At the end, the boxer said: “You win because my mum likes you the best.” He proved to be a great client and we advised on domicile and offshore trusts. Thankfully, he didn’t fight over fees.


What are the main challenges your clients are facing?

The tax system that is too complex to navigate without proper advice. As one client said to me recently, “You keep me onside with the taxman, and let me get on with making money.”


What was the last book you read?

Following a trip to Oslo, I read the Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft, written by Thor Heyerdahl. It is the true story of their sailing a raft across the South Seas. These were awe-inspiring guys. If it were fiction you wouldn’t believe it.


What achievement are you most proud of?

My father was a fantastic footballer and when I was a boy I loved seeing all his medals and trophies. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit his prowess on the football field, so the day I got a football medal in the London Legal League was a special one for me.


What trends have you noticed?

The evolving role of the trust companies. I believe that properly structured and with the right growth areas, they can position themselves as the dominant service provider in the private client space.


How do you relax?

I watch Manchester City, although when they are only 1-0 up with five minutes to go it often doesn’t feel like unwinding.