Firing line  

Clients can still get their tax wrong, even with advice

“I spoke to her IFA and actually her pension fund is held in Dublin; [though] it looked like a UK provider, the Irish authorities transferred information back to HMRC.” 

Ms Register says she faced a similar scenario with another client who holds an investment in a life bond based out of the Channel Islands. 

“Everybody has an emotional reaction when being accused of doing something wrong – sometimes it is anger, sometimes it is fear,” she says. 

Adviser by trade

Ms Register is a financial adviser by background. She worked as a tax manager in Baker Tilly before she joined BDO in 2006. Prior to this, she was a financial adviser for Chase de Vere. 

What prompted her move out of financial advice?

“It is very important to get both good financial advice and good tax advice,” says Ms Register.

She adds that during her time as a financial adviser she realised that a lot of clients she worked with were seeking tax advice as well as financial advice. 

“I actually had a period where I worked with private clients first, so I guess it is very natural that you are advising families or clients or both, so I went back into giving private client tax advice.”

Necessary skills

Ms Register shares the view that there is a lot of support in the industry to gain technical knowledge but it is often harder to gain the communication skills to do the job. 

“There is a lot of support for acquiring tech knowledge, but the difficult parts of the job are [gaining] the meeting skills, mediation skills and communication skills.”

Acquiring these skills early is often a huge challenge faced by those working in the industry, she adds. 

Ms Register says: “The UK’s tax legislation system is one of most complex. We have 21,000 pages of tax law.

“The chances of getting it wrong are quite high, even if you have an adviser.” 

She notes the proudest moment of her career was winning the partner of the year title at the British Accountancy Awards in 2018. 

Ms Register says growth is the focus of the next few years at BDO as it only recently merged with Moore Stephens. 

Ms Register says one of the biggest challenges of her job is proving innocence when HMRC has accused individuals of things they have not done.

“Trying to prove a negative is quite a challenge when the tax authorities think somebody has done something wrong.

“The other challenge is we do have a tax authority with limited resources,” she says.

Saloni Sardana is a features writer at FTAdviser and Financial Adviser