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‘The internationalisation of private client work in London has been a big change,’ says Irwin Mitchell’s affable partner Alex Ruffel. ‘London has changed from being a cosmopolitan city to an extremely cosmopolitan city, and the world’s become smaller in terms of communication and where people have their assets.’
Ruffel specialises in working with global HNWs who wish to relocate to or from the UK, and the complexity of recent legislation means a move to London often poses challenges for UHNWs. It’s a question of understanding the tax regime, she says – not to mention the technical aspects. ‘We get some very interesting questions. Someone asked if their bodyguard could carry guns,’ laughs Ruffel.
Hailed by industry peers for her abilities in sophisticated tax and trust issues, Ruffel often advises on cross-border tax planning, estate planning, and trust structuring, as well as assisting with personal investments. Many HNWs are looking at creative and tax-efficient wealth vehicles, such as insurance wrappers and family investment companies, she observes. ‘There is a real attack on trusts, with the assumption that they are either methods of avoiding tax or hiding wealth,’ she says.
But Ruffel still displays an infectious love of the job: ‘You’ll never know what you’re going to come in and find on your desk, which is also scary sometimes,’ she says. ‘But it does make it fun – no day’s ever the same.’