You announced a firm move, which will take effect in May. What made you opt for change?
I decided to move to Smith & Williamson because I concluded it gave the best base and succession for those clients who wish to continue to look to me for advice, and because I thought that as a team, my wife and I and also Anita Millar Neale, currently a Director at R&H, could all bring something interesting to Smith & Williamson. Obviously, it was a huge decision to leave Rawlinson & Hunter the firm at which I had been a partner for thirty years. However, we are delighted with our decision and excited about our future.
How has the private client industry changed over the years?
There has been a considerable shift from marketed tax planning in the UK to tailored structuring and tax mitigation. Offshore, FATCA, the Swiss/UK agreements and Common Reporting Standard (CRS) have led to a marked reduction in confidentiality, and an acceptance of greater transparency by clients. We need to expect more initiatives of this sort and greater information-seeking powers. We are heading into an era of more intrusive enquiries as tax collection is more heavily focused on individuals, with tax reductions aimed at the corporate sector.
What lesson have you learned from private client work?
To expect the unexpected.
What should non-doms expect to happen after 5 April?
That depends. Those with UK domiciles of origin will either lose the protection of foreign domiciles of choice if born in the UK, and this may throw up all sorts of difficulties, or face lengthy challenges to their status. Overall, while there will be continued protection for certain trusts, foreign domiciliaries should expect their claims to be challenged more aggressively. Mixed Fund cleansing will be a large exercise, requiring considerable technical and IT expertise. At the same time, other countries look set on providing other options with immigrant regimes being introduced in many European countries.
What are the main challenges your clients are facing?
The impact of foreign domiciliary changes and restructuring of UK real estate.
Tell us about an achievement you are most proud of?
Seeing my clients' children and knowing that I have helped to provide security for future generations. Being an effective charity adviser. Achieving resolution of disputes.
And the internationalisation of families?
Families have become more complex and family relationships more extended. This can raise all sorts of interesting issues of interpretation. Pre-nuptial agreements are becoming more firmly established and used to provide asset protection though it may not be long before some of these face challenges. Prudence and a long-term view are essential to their success.
What trends do you see in the private wealth industry?
A growing gap between firms who take a long-term view and others who don’t.
What do you do to unwind?
I like to visit monasteries.