Leaders List Interview: 60 seconds with David Rudge, ZEDRA
David Rudge tells Citywealth why family businesses so often fail, and how succession planning is vital to avoid family conflict.
25 May 2021
My official title is Group Head of Client Services at Tilney Smith and Williamson, and day-to-day that means ensuring that our clients’ best interests are forefront of all of our minds and centric to everything we do. I’m also a private client practitioner and I look after a wide range of clients from UHNWs to those with less complicated needs, but I believe each deserves the same quality of advice and service.
My clients range from landed estates who require accountancy and tax advice to those who own businesses and require advice on their personal affairs and how it relates to the business. Many of my clients also have trusts and family offices, or they utilise Tilney Smith & Williamson’s family office services where we might assist with anything from their PAYE for their nanny or to looking after their trust distributions. We do not provide legal services.
Tilney Smith & Williamson merged last September and priority number one has been to ensure that clients have continuity of service and teams, whilst also looking to always enhance the service we are offering. The merger opens the door to more services being available for our clients, particularly on the financial planning side. It’s great to be adding to the menu for our clients to ensure we are continually offering proactive bespoke solutions.
The last 18 months were extremely challenging for our clients, and for us as we moved to digital ways of working and communicating. It has been a volatile time in terms of our clients’ investment portfolios, whilst falling yields are affecting cash flows. On top of this some clients have been affected by a downturn in business or their tenants not paying rent, so throughout we’ve been helping clients by providing guidance as much as we can. Clients have also spent more time thinking about their succession plans so there has been a lot of work in that area. Lastly, there is the possibility of tax changes to pay for the pandemic and we’re helping clients plan ahead.
I hope my colleagues would say: collaborative, collegiate, and not too serious. While what we do should not be treated lightly, I believe that there should be a sense of humour at work. We want happy teams who deliver a great client service.
One of my memorable moments is looking after a family where the mother and eldest son hadn’t spoken for 10 years. I acted for them both and through a diplomatic approach was able to help them reunite. They became very close and enjoyed a few years reconciled before she died.
It sticks out in my mind as an example of being able to help a family relationship through our professional work. I was pleased to be able to be a helpful catalyst in their reconciliation.
Plan B? I never had one. I chose accountancy post university as my father recommended I get a qualification to get off his payroll!. I then fell into private client by accident on arriving in my first job, and I like to think it was some kind of divine intervention, as I’ve had a privileged and wonderful career thus far.
If I hadn’t found my way into accountancy, I think I would have followed some horse-related career. I used to compete at eventing to 2-star. I’m lucky my children now have a strong interest and I can enjoy it through them. I also vicariously enjoy my father-in-law’s eventing successes as he won Badminton and Burghley in the 1960s.