International Women in Wealth five minute interview: Helen Jones, Tax Partner, BDO

Date: 02 Dec 2011


What signature taxation, laws, trusts or investments do you think really work?

I believe all advice should be bespoke – we have a every changing toolkit of solutions and apply them to meet the individual’s objectives and needs.

Are there any private clients in the world you would really like to work with?

To me it is not the person but the problem or opportunity I can help with.

Are women really going to take over the world, if so how?

We are tipping the scales. However, balance is essential – women controlling the world is as bad as men controlling it.

What size of client do you generally work with?

The size of clients varies Рmy clients have assets of between £10m and a billion. I also invest time with people who are starting off Рthey are potentially the ultra high net worth individuals of the future.

What is the most interesting private client deal you have ever been involved with?

A recent deal that involved the sale of business interests in three tax jurisdictions in exchange for a share of a global company. There were complex issues both now and in the future that I was able to resolve with a bit of creativity.

What lessons have you learned that you could share with women?

Aim high – you are better than you think you are.

What initiatives do you have or do you think there should be for women?

I think most initiatives such as mentoring , shadowing, flexibility and an open door policy should apply to all not just women. However support for women returning to work after maternity leave is essential.

What are your three USP’s for working with uhnw clients?

Excellent client service, Appropriate advice – e.g. commercial and in the right format. An honest professional opinion.

What is the best thing that has ever been said about you or you have done or won?

Last year, a client who uses a number of advisers said the team passed the three A’s test with flying colours: Affability, Availability and Ability. This year he said our service was just getting ‘better and better’ and that he would definitely recommend us. I now have four new clients following his referrals.

What is your individual focus in terms of countries and uhnw clients?

I specialise in dealing with both UK entrepreneurs and their businesses and Private Equity Funds and their executives. This work includes advising the immediate family and related trusts, companies or partnerships on a range of matters, including tax efficient structuring, extraction of cash and exit strategies.

How much do you travel on business?

Mostly to the clients’ offices and businesses. I find it leads to a better understanding.

What is the next big thing in private wealth management?

The same as last year, mitigating the tax rate and tax leakage.

Will you still be successful as a woman if you don’t dress the part?

I think you can be but other people’s perception is often different and therefore you need to dress appropriately. This does not mean you have to wear a suit.

What would you tell a divorcing woman in the UK?

Get advice early and not just from a divorce lawyer – you will need both financial and tax advice to maximise your position.

Is the glass ceiling still with us?

It is beginning to crack.

What charities do you admire and why?

Charities who give people the tools to help themselves.

What is the dummies guide to making it to the top in finance or pwm?

Develop a team to support you, keep up to date and focussed.

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