BDO’s new tax partner hopes to build on impressive growth

Phil Hall is a new tax partner at BDO in Ipswich.

Phil Hall is a new tax partner at BDO in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

There has been a lot of positive news coming from BDO over the past few weeks. The accountancy, tax and business advisory firm, which saw new managing partner Paul Eagland take up position earlier this month, also announced a double digit growth in profits, citing its investment in talent and technology as key drivers.

Phil Hall is a new tax partner at BDO in Ipswich.

Phil Hall is a new tax partner at BDO in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

The results showed that across the UK as a whole the firm has exceeded the £400m revenue mark for the first time while its profits grew 22% to £80.3m compared to £65.6m last year.

An important area for expansion is BDO’s tax business, which has grown by around 25% in the last two years. In response, the team has continued to invest in talent to meet client demand and seven new tax partners joined the firm during the summer, alongside a major recruitment push in other service lines including audit as well as business services and accounting.

Impressive CV

One of these new recruits is Phil Hall, who joined BDO’s East Anglia business as tax partner on September 1st.

Phil brings with him an impressive CV. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant he worked in corporate tax for PWC for around a decade - predominantly in London but for the last three years was based at the firm’s Norwich office.

Having established himself in East Anglia, Phil then joined regional accountancy firm Grant Thornton where he worked for ten years, eight as a partner, prior to joining BDO last month.

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Phil’s new remit at BDO is an East Anglia-wide role where he will provide corporate tax advice to the mid-market and large-sized businesses.

“By working regionally, it allows us to specialise and have the right people go to the right clients,” he said.

“While my skill set is corporate tax and that is the area I advise on - the way I go to market is to bring the whole strength of BDO behind me. If I go to visit a potential client, or indeed an existing client, they won’t just want to talk about corporate tax. Typically, they will be looking for advice across a range of disciplines - be it VAT, employment taxes, share schemes or transfer pricing.

“In the large corporate market that is the service that is required. Once I know what areas the client requires advice in I can bring in specialist colleagues to provide that expertise.

Phil says he came to BDO looking for “a fresh challenge” and sees his new role as offering “a unique opportunity”.

He continued: “BDO is one of the strongest brands in the accountancy sector and there is an opportunity to grow the business in terms of the services it provides for large corporates.

“I’ve been around East Anglia for 13 years now, so I know a lot of people and have forged many good relationships. It’s encouraging that at this stage in my career many people that I’ve known either as former colleagues or clients are now in senior roles and are the very people I am wanting to sell to.”

BEPS

Phil says there are a number of issues that are topical at the moment, the most pressing being base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS).

BEPS relates to the OECD’s push to harmonise tax regimes around the globe in the wake of a number of large multinationals, being criticised for not paying the right amount of tax in certain territories and being suspected of having placed profits offshore.

“BEPS means that in the UK and around the globe there will be huge changes in the taxation of multinational companies,” said Phil.

“These changes will also affect UK domestic businesses as well. A lot of concepts of corporate tax, which have been accepted for many years, are now being questioned and changed. Much of the detail is still in consultation but a lot of these changes will come in as early as March 2017. Many of the large companies in this region will have a generalist finance director who will be struggling to keep up with these changes and that’s where we can help.”

Brexit

Another big theme, not just in the tax world but across the all sectors is the implications of Brexit.

Phil said: “Brexit remains hugely topical and there has been a lot of discussion around whether companies are going to stop investing. We have seen a slight pause in companies’ willingness to invest but what is happening to the exchange rate in terms of the fall in the value of Sterling has helped exporters. So, a lot of companies are feeling happy at the moment as a result of Brexit.

“What is certain going forward is that we will see a lot of change although we don’t know at this stage what these changes will be. A lot of tax in recent years has been driven by European law so, assuming Brexit does happen, as that ceases to be relevant we will see changes there.

“There is also an awful lot on the customs duty and indirect taxes side relating to the movement of goods around the EU and whether there will be charges coming in.”

Share Schemes

Phil says there also remains a lot of interest in share schemes where many businesses are now recognising that they need their senior managers to have their interests aligned with the owners. “A lot of businesses in this region are privately owned and they want to to see management aligned by them awarding them a stake in the company or by giving them an opportunity to buy a stake in the company,” he said.

“They want to do this tax efficiently and common ways to do this are through EMI schemes where criteria is met or through Employee Shareholder Shares.”

He continued: “When we start talking with companies we don’t just look for the best solution in terms of tax efficiency, we also make sure we understand what they are trying to achieve. Why do they want to give someone shares? Is it because they want to give them a pot of cash in five years’ time or do they want to tie them in for a longer term?

“Once we know what they want exactly we can help them maximise their tax efficiency in the best way.”

Phil says the firm is busy advising firms of all sizes on these and other pertinent areas and when he is not talking and meeting with clients, he is occupied with looking for skilled staff to join the team.

He added: “The workflow is amazing at the moment and we need new people to service that. My colleague Peter Harrup and I are spending a lot of time on recruitment at the moment.

“This is happening because the economy is going the right way but I also think there is a recognition, both nationally and locally, that BDO is doing a lot of right things as well.”