‘I fell into it,’ says Wendy Walton, of her sparkling career as a tax accountant (she won Spear’s Private Client Accountant of the Year in 2014 and was made head of BDO Global Private Client Services in 2016). ‘BDO was my gap year before university. I loved the intellectual challenge of understanding the tax rules then – and here I still am, 31 years later.’
In the Eighties her role was particularly focused on UK individuals and families, whereas international entrepreneurs with complex tax affairs make up most of her client base today. The industry too, she says, is rapidly evolving. ‘There is clearly a strong link between tax and reputation management now, so it’s increasingly important that plans are scrutinised from all perspectives and that clients are fully comfortable with potential reputational issues,’ she observes.
On the other hand, she’s keen to discourage misunderstandings over the CRS: ‘It’s about reporting between tax authorities in different countries – so need not put the personal circumstances of wealthy individuals into the public spotlight.’
Walton’s tried and tested strategy is ‘to consider what the client wants to achieve and then work through a plan of how to get there, considering the tax implications along the way’. Offshore jurisdictions may have a place in those plans, ‘depending on the requirements, residency and domicile of the family,’ she adds.