Citywealth speaks to Kate Johnson, member of Citywealth's Leaders List and Senior Associate at Wedlake Bell who deals with personal tax, trust, estate planning and succession issues.
Tell Citywealth’s readers about your role.
I advise domestic and international clients on personal tax, trust, estate planning and succession issues. My clients include individuals, trustees and charities often with multi-jurisdictional assets owned via complex offshore trust and corporate structures. I work closely with my clients and their advisors to mitigate tax and plan for the future. I particularly enjoy advising on exiting family businesses, charity formation, onshore and offshore tax planning and trust structuring, and planning for moving to or returning to the UK. Many of my clients have charitable interests or valuable art collections.
What are the most pressing issues you are dealing with in your role at the moment?
I always have one eye on potential changes to taxation and how they can make use of the current relief whilst they remain available. For example, I am currently advising a long-standing client in advance of the sale of the family business and I am reviewing and restructuring the trusts that they have had in place for many years to ensure that they continue to meet the family's objectives once the nature of the assets change. The restructuring is dependent on some fairly generous Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax reliefs which are currently available, added to which the sale could complete soon so it is important to work quickly. Our commercial property team are advising the business on the sale and having the work carried out under the same roof helps us to work efficiently.
ESG: Are your clients familiar with ESG? Are they behaving differently in the present scenario?
Most of my clients are now familiar with ESG and many are becoming increasingly aware of the other similar but subtly different alternatives. I am increasingly having conversations with clients about the social impact of their investments.
Following the judgement in the case of Bulter-Sloss & Ors v Charity Commission in which the High Court effectively confirmed that where the trustees of a charity believe certain investments conflict with the charity's purposes they can be excluded if it is reasonable to do so taking all relevant factors into consideration, charitable clients have been reviewing their investment policies and in some cases increasing their ESG investments.
What are the most important skills and personal qualities for a Senior Associate advising on personal tax, trust, estate planning and succession issues?
It is important to be a good listener and to be able to explain complex technical information in a straightforward and easy to understand manner. I am often working with clients during challenging times in their lives and it is crucial to be able to empathise with them and understand their priorities.
What does it mean to you to be a member of Citywealth’s Leaders List?
It is an honour to be included in the Leaders List and I am in some very good company. It is wonderful to see many of my peers in the industry being recognised for their expertise and I am delighted to be named alongside them.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given?
Treat others as you would want to be treated. It is a simple principle but such an important one in all aspects of life and has served me well in my relationships with clients, colleagues and the other professionals I work with.