Not For The Plebs!

by SRLV on 23 October 2012

Thoughts from Tax Partner Brian Williams…

We are just coming up to the end of the first year of the new Affluent Unit of HMRC.  It was launched in October 2011 with the bringing together of 200 specialists using new data-mining and risk-assessment techniques to identify areas where wealthy individuals are avoiding or evading tax.

To date it has focused on individuals with a net worth of at least £2.5m but from now on the limit will be £1m.  HMRC reckon this will require an extra 100 tax inspectors to deal with the total of about 500,000 wealthy individuals.  The main focus will be on individuals with land and property abroad or with offshore bank accounts and a specific mention has been made of commodity traders.

As usual these days, the HMRC press release seems to make little distinction between evasion and avoidance!

Our experience of the tax inspectors in the High Net Worth Unit (which deals with the 5,000 plus individuals whose wealth exceeds £20m) shows them to be knowledgeable, business-like and generally very helpful – let’s hope the new Affluent Unit maintains these standards!


The following Opionion Piece by Laurence Finger, appeared in Accountancy Age (

I was recently asked by a three partner firm of accountants in Ireland to come and have a chat with them about how I, along with my best friend, set up and grew SRLV to the successful practice it is today.

They, like me a good few years back now, had started up a firm and are now at a stage where they want to grow the practice, employ others and recruit new partners. We spent a very good day at their office, chatting through ideas – I learnt from them as well as they from me.  They had some ideas that we at SRLV may well adopt, and my experience, I hope, gave them some food for thought as to how they can grow their own firm.

It got me thinking about external practice mentoring, and do we do enough of it as a sector? My guess is probably not.

So why do it? Mentoring within the firm is, I think, crucial to developing talent and managing succession.  Many firms do this well and actively support employees with buddy systems, linking mentoring to appraisals and breaking down ‘silo’ systems.

But mentoring externally is a little more of a hard sell. I mean, why help other firms improve? Well, I say why not?  I think we should all be concerned with the development and improvement of our sector and with creating the UK as a centre for excellence in accountancy. Giving advice and guidance to others about the things we do well can help us achieve this.

Practice mentoring has benefits. For a start it allows the profession to ‘give back’.  Many firms now have a CSR policy and mentoring is a big tick in the responsibility box.  Mentoring can also create positive engagement with your firm’s brand.  It helps a firm build a ‘fanbase’ within the industry, increasing the number of followers on twitter if that’s your thing, and will enhance your reputation overall.

Accountancy is a very educated field, with most people highly qualified, educated to degree level and professional qualifications. It’s also one of the most diverse areas of professional services, with plenty of women in senior roles and I would guess is more balanced ethnically and culturally than say, banking or law.

This diversity and knowledge is something to be proud of and promote.  Firms that don’t have a woman on the Board may well benefit from having a senior female mentor from another firm.

Going beyond the boundaries of our own offices and talking to other people in other firms and sharing knowledge – especially to firms that are starting up, or in the early years of their growth  – can only enhance the accountancy sector and I think we all have responsibility to do more of it.

And believe me, it’s great to be known as the firm that knows its stuff, so much so that others want to learn from you.

{ 1 comment }

Inspiration For Us All

by SRLV on 8 August 2012

What a time to be British!  Last Friday, we were all getting ready for the opening ceremony of the long awaited 2012 Olympic Games held in our capital city (and elsewhere round the country!).

The ceremony was an outright success and it was great to see our clients, Artic Monkeys taking to the stage to belt out I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor. The closing ceremony in ten days time also promises to be an unforgettable show and we’re proud it’s going to feature more of our clients; legendary rockers The Who along with a couple more surprises….

But in between these ceremonies, what a two weeks we will have had. Already, we are so proud, not only of Team GB and all it has achieved, but also of this great city we call home and of the nation really getting behind the Games.

SRLV has fully supported our employees working from home, changing their hours to ease the travel hassles and more importantly taking time out to get to some of the events and getting in to the spirit of 2012. Why not? After all, it’s not every day your city gets to host the Greatest Show on Earth. C’mon Team GB!


SRLV Skydivers

by SRLV on 19 July 2012

Saturday 21st July is the big day for our skydivers supporting . The team has been working incredibly hard to fundraise individually but they need more ££££’s to reach their target.  So please dig deep, the VMG page is  or check out skydiversSRLV skydivers


SRLV’s head of Tax, Brian Williams comments on the Chancellor’s recent U-turn on the ‘pasty’ tax.

Surely everybody has heard something about the pasty tax fiasco – but be careful that your temperature doesn’t rise above ambient otherwise you could attract a 20% VAT charge!

The problem arose because there is no VAT on food but there is 20% VAT on catering, and there has long been uncertainty about whether a pasty constituted “food” or “catering”.  It all seemed to hinge on whether the food was sold at a temperature above the ambient temperature.  In theory, a pasty served at 20°c  could be VAT-free in the summer and attract a 20% VAT charge in the winter!  Furthermore, if you waited long enough in the shop for the pasty to cool down to ambient temperature then you would save yourself 20%.  Some people suggested that the VAT rate should apply only where the pasty was kept in a heated cabinet, but the government decided to introduce certainty by making all pasties subject to VAT at 20%.

This led to a huge outcry and this week the Government backed down.  There were accusations that it was an attack by the posh boys on the working man – one member of the House  of Lords claimed never to have eaten a pasty and believed it to be not unlike boeuf en croute (somewhat tongue in cheek, or prime steak in cheek!).

Embarrassment all round for George Osborne but, should he resign?  If he does he can look forward to a seat on the Board at Greggs – boy, have they had some good publicity!


It made perfect sense for YGM, who own the rights for the Aquascutum brand in South East Asia and Japan, where the brand has high awareness and is incredibly popular.

I suspect that YGM feels that they had to buy the brand and maintain the provenance and history in the UK, otherwise the brand would collapse in their own existing territories.


So in itself, it’s not really the saving of a heritage brand, more of an expedience for someone to be able to protect their investment.


Boom Times Continue for High End Brands

4 May 2012

The Sunday Times Rich List is always much talked about.  What was particularly interesting this year was that whilst many are still suffering from the after math of the credit crunch and the resulting recession, it appears to still be boom-time for high-end retailers and luxury brands. Among the billionaires were diamond retailer Laurence Graff.  [...]

Read the full article →

Intial reactions to the Budget from Tax Partner Brian Williams

23 March 2012

A Budget for Business? Reduction in corporation tax rates – 24% this April down to 22% from 2014 The Budget was good news for businesses. The reduction in corporation tax rates now means that, for the first time, entrepreneurs can have a successful company and in due course sell it, paying tax on profits and [...]

Read the full article →

Year End Top 5 Tax Tips

9 March 2012

This is just a selection of good ideas to consider before the end of the tax year – only a few weeks away. Tax relief on EIS investments: Subscribing for shares in most unquoted trading companies (an EIS investment) provides tax relief at 30%.  The shares can be sold after three years with no claw [...]

Read the full article →

SRLV Client big winner at Grammys

14 February 2012

It was an emotionally charged 54th Grammys ceremony in LA on Sunday night that saw Adele pick up 6 awards after a storming 2011. SRLV client, Paul Epworth co-wrote and produced Adele’s hugely successful album ’21′ and shared in her honours by picking up the coveted Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) for his work with [...]

Read the full article →