Choosing an Advisor
There are a number of firms that market capital allowances services - some long-established firms like us, and some new entrants to the capital allowances market (though the latter often claim to have been operating for many years)!
Like all professional advisers they vary in quality and suitability.
Of course, we and our clients believe we can meet all the key criteria in choosing a capital allowances adviser, namely:-
- Value for money fees: Here there are several important issues:
- Unlike many new entrants with inflexible fee structures, we always tailor our fees to meet our client's circumstances and provide value for money. We are happy to quote on a results basis, or for a fixed fee, or both;
- New entrants often make inflated predictions about what they might achieve and charge eye-watering fees that absorb more than the first year's tax saving (indeed, often several years' savings). By understanding this risk and speaking to an established firm like us better value can be obtained;
- At the other end of the market, some large firms charge high fees because of their heavy overheads and the strength of their well-known brands, but delegate the work to junior personnel so struggle to outperform smaller, more focused and flexible advisers like us;
- It is usually a false economy to appoint an adviser solely on price, ignoring quality (or assuming all advisers are the same - which they are not). This is because the fee savings can be dwarfed by lost tax savings, not to mention the damage to the client's reputation with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) resulting from using an adviser that is not fully competent.
- Tax and surveying professional regulation & qualifications:
- We are regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and by the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) for compliance with Anti-money Laundering rules;
- Our team are members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Chartered Institute of Taxation, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Association of Tax Technicians. We act in accordance with the regulations and ethical guidelines of these bodies and have the required level of professional indemnity insurance (PII) and an independent complaints handling process to protect our clients in the unlikely event of problems;
- New entrants generally do not have this combination of expertise, or adequate PII. Look for Institute logos on websites.
- Expert and efficient staff:
- We are extremely proud that our directors are acknowledged experts. We have published many books and articles, and lecture regularly on capital allowances;
- In contrast, many new entrants are less forthcoming about who their people are - usually because the work is being carried out by unqualified and inexperienced staff who are being trained at their clients' expense, or because they rely on anonymous sub-contractors;
- Our directors take a hands-on approach and actually produce and review the work. This means that we are streamlined and efficient, our work is "right first time" and we deliver optimum results;
- A casual or cavalier approach can easily damage your relationship with HMRC and lead to the charging of interest and penalties.
- Genuine specialist expertise:
- We have capital allowances expertise and experience going back to 1992, with a professional background in surveying and tax;
- However, many capital allowances newcomers are from a general financial sales or claims background (such as financial advisers and brokers, endowment claims, payment protection or loan insurance claims etc.);
- We have often found that other advisers (including a number who present themselves as capital allowances 'experts') "do not know what they do not know" or miss claims through a mixture of apathy and a lack of relevant skills. We have routinely been told that existing advisers have capital allowances claims "fully covered" so we would be wasting our time, but we have still secured substantial tax savings to our clients' surprise and delight;
- We have even seen businesses appoint larger firms, or so-called specialists with professed capital allowances expertise, but later terminate that relationship and appoint us instead because it became clear the other firm lacked genuine specialist knowledge.
- Honest marketing:
- We, and HM Revenue & Customs, are aware that a number of new firms have been making untrue or highly misleading sales claims about their size, track record and working practices. These include being "approved" by HM Revenue & Customs, or needing and using expensive HMRC "licences", "matrices" or "methodologies" to undertake capital allowances consultancy. This is simply not true! Note also, that some of the newer firms claim to be the "biggest" or have over 100 "experts" - in fact, there are probably no more than 100 genuine specialists across the whole capital allowances industry!
- We are committed to honest, professional marketing. We will not lie to you.
- Relevant experience to your industry:
- We have wide ranging industry experience. Not all firms will be as familiar with the practical issues facing you. Can they provide client recommendations?
- A supportive attitude seeking to work with your accountant and other advisers:
- We aim to support and work with accountants and other advisers rather than against them;
- In contrast, some firms offer wider taxation and other advisory services and may be looking to undermine and replace existing advisers.
- Adequate resources:
- Whilst every client is important to us and we are adept at dealing with smaller one-off investments, we have the resources to handle large property portfolios and have advised on high-profile transactions with individual values running into hundreds of millions of pounds;
- New and small firms may easily become overstretched and struggle to deal with portfolios of properties or challenging deadlines.