In our 60 second interview series, Citywealth speaks to Andy Sams, Director, Client Advisory ‑ London for TwinFocus about assisting clients amid the uncertainty of Brexit and a potential UK general election.
Tell me about your role.
I am the European head of Wealth Planning at TwinFocus. TwinFocus has pioneered a unique Multi-Single Family Office experience and advises on over $6.2bn of assets for 35 Ultra High Net Worth professional investors and their families around the world with offices in the UK and US. I work with our investment teams to deliver tailored long-term client-centric wealth planning strategies to our clients that incorporate the investment, tax and commercial implications of an ever evolving financial and fiscal landscape. As a Chartered Tax Adviser, I apply deep tax technical knowledge and experience to maximise net of tax investment returns and enhance the tax efficiency of wealth transfers across the family balance sheet.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A sizable commute from my house in a sleepy village deep in the Essex countryside to the City gives me plenty of time first thing in the morning to respond to overnight emails and clearly plan the day ahead. The day is then normally filled with both client related work and business development activities. The client related work includes creating, reviewing and restructuring multi-jurisdictional asset holdings structures that enable the efficient transfer of wealth across generations whilst providing a tax favourable environment in which investment returns are enhanced. This typically includes liaising with clients’ wider advisers (lawyers, accountants etc.) and their respective cross-border teams such that there will normally be several calls to update on the status and progress of ongoing client related projects.
The business development activities include attending prospective client meetings and networking events, publishing thought leadership pieces and presenting on topical issues for UHNW families. We also spend time identifying the best in class professional advisers and intermediaries such as law firms, accountancy firms and corporate/trustee fiduciary service providers that we want to partner with and that we feel are best able to help our clients achieve their objectives.
Tell us about interesting client instructions.
No two clients are the same; each family (and even each family member) has their own unique story, objectives, challenges and opportunities, which provides for a hugely diverse and fascinating set of instructions on an almost daily basis. One of the larger projects I am currently working on is the review and restructure of a multi-jurisdictional real estate holding structure to ensure that it continues to meet our client’s commercial, economic and family objectives given the many recent changes and proposed changes to the UK taxation of real estate. The proposed restructuring will not only reduce potential tax exposure but it will also enhance future investment returns by taking advantage of asset rebasing opportunities whilst reducing the burden of ongoing annual administration and compliance costs.
What challenges do your clients face and how are you helping your clients to overcome them?
Each client has their own unique set of challenges but more recently for UK centric clients Brexit and the threat of a potentially imminent general election have been a key source of concern and challenge. I have been working with my clients to undertake strategic reviews of their balance sheets, which has often involved a phased approach that takes into consideration both the potentially imminent impacts, as well as the planning opportunities that implicate a longer-term strategic focus, including without limitations to the following:
• Tax residence - Whether to change personal and/or business tax residence, which necessarily implicates an analysis of their existing wealth structures and the negative repercussions various Brexit scenarios can have on the such structures.
• Capital controls - The migration of assets and/or use of investment structures to circumvent potentially ill-informed legal barriers to free capital flows.
• DAC 6 - The wide-reaching impact of the introduction of EU mandatory disclosure rules for cross-border transactions and the costs and administrative red-tape of associated compliance measures.
• Economic substance tests - The impact on personal and business holding structures as well as passive investment holdings in the event other jurisdictions are utilised to place their holding companies and investment structures.
• Cross-border compliance – Beneficial ownership registers, FATCA, CRS and the increasing complexities of cross-border arrangements and the associated compliance measures.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
As clichéd as it may sound, seeing the real value our advice adds to families is always a great source of pride. If I had to point to a more discrete event, it would be being recognized by ePrivateclient as one of the top 35 under 35 private client practitioners in the UK in 2016, following various client led nominations that were scrutinized by a panel of judges based on wider client and team references and feedback.
What do you consider to be the most important attributes for a leader?
Forming deep and trust-led relationships with their people to inspire a shared vision connected to a common purpose, showing gratitude, genuinely championing the best interests of their people and always listening and learning.
Who do you most admire and why?
Too many to choose from. I really admire anyone that has demonstrated near impossible feats of mental fortitude overcoming extremely challenging circumstances to achieve huge success and personify the infamous line in William Ernest Henley’s poem Invictus: "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul".
Where was the last place you travelled to for work or pleasure?
Boston (which is where I am currently writing this) to catch up with the TwinFocus team based here; it’s an awesome team and a really interesting city.
If you weren’t in the wealth management industry, what else might you be doing?
As a longstanding avid martial artist, I’d probably be running my own martial arts school, especially as they days of me being fit enough to compete professionally are long behind me.
How do you relax after a long day?
Playing ‘peek-a-boo’ and reading stories with my 7-month-old daughter while catching up with my wife.