Posted: March 3, 2016
Margaret Connolly, MA, FCA, CTA, one of the most well-respected and influential tax advisers in the South East, has recently joined Burgess Hodgson as a consultant.
Margaret’s experience and knowledge is exemplary, having initially trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with PWC in the city of London. She swiftly moved to a career in taxation where she spent significant time with other London firms including KPMG and three years as head of UK taxation at Unilever plc. More recently for 13 years Margaret was a partner and Head of Taxation Services at Kreston Reeves. She retired from this position in December 2014. With such experience under her belt, Margaret’s arrival is a real fillip for the practice.
So why join Burgess Hodgson? “It’s a firm that I always admired from afar,” said Margaret. “I can see how passionate the firm is. Not only does it provide top quality service to its clients, but I was so impressed by the quality and calibre of the all the staff and partners that work for the business.
“I was also struck by its ‘issues’ based approach to advising clients. I saw tremendous similarities between the ways I have always approached my role as a tax adviser to the way Burgess Hodgson approaches its clients. For example, when a client seeks advice regarding tax implications, the quickest, easiest advice available is not always the best. Burgess Hodgson will spend time getting under the skin of its clients’ business affairs and not just taking a short term approach. They will seek to establish the client’s objectives both short, medium and long term and make sure any advice given is consistent with such objectives.
What does Margaret think some are of the biggest issues facing companies, especially in Kent and the South East at the moment?
“They are same issues that I have seen for so many years. For example, at the corporate level, companies are struggling with maximising their post-corporation tax retained profits, and doing so legitimately, not involving tax avoidance. There are some easy wins and Burgess Hodgson is top of the game in providing this advice to its clients. For example, provided they tick the relevant boxes, clients facing issues of staff recruitment, retention, and incentivisation, can often score highly by implementing share option schemes.
“Similarly an awful lot of corporates, even today, are still not claiming what they are perfectly entitled to claim, including research and development tax credits. I believe that Burgess Hodgson has been at the forefront of making sure that any clients who are eligible for these very helpful bonuses provided by the government, are obtaining them.
“When it comes to owner-managed businesses, again I’ve seen the same issues over the years and advised and assisted many clients. This includes assisting and advising shareholders implementing an exit, whether this would be by undertaking an outright sale, a partial sale, or as part of a facilitation of a management buyout by the in-house management team.
“Other issues that seem to be more prevalent than ever before include shareholders that have previously worked very well together for a number of years, who are now deciding to go their separate ways. For example, more and more companies have more than one discrete area of the business and multiple shareholders; in many cases certain shareholders are opting to withdraw in order to continue to run a specific area of the business on their own. This leaves the other shareholders to concentrate on perhaps another niche part of the business.
“I was also attracted by Burgess Hodgson’s belief in providing “cradle to grave advice”. Take the disposal of a business, for example: Burgess Hodgson doesn’t just submit its fee and leave it there, but also makes sure its in-house employee tax and IHT specialists get involved at a suitable, early time. They will ensure any transaction is properly reported on the income tax return and that proper bespoke IHT planning is at least considered. This can be crucial , not least because whilst a taxpayer is holding, say, ordinary shares in a trading company, subject to some other conditions being met, chances are those shares would attract Business Property Relief (BPR) and be exempt from IHT in the event of the demise of the shareholder. Once they are converted into cash or loan notes the value will no longer attract BPR. There are nevertheless some perfectly good and very legitimate opportunities available to shelter some or all of the value going forward.
“I think it’s fair to say there are a tremendous amount of synergies between my approach as a professional tax adviser and the approach that I have seen in Burgess Hodgson and its overall ethos. I very much look forward to working with the practice.”