Ones to Watch for 2016: The Leading Tax Experts
ARN HOXTON is a boutique accounting firm based in the city of London, primarily offering services to small and medium sized businesses. Most of the firm’s clients are either successful London based businesses or high net worth individuals from abroad. Companies and individuals who come from abroad and want to set up businesses in the UK or have properties in the UK are the types of clients the firm serves. The firm is led by Mr Sukumar Saha – a highly respected Chartered Accountant who specialises in personal and property tax.
In an interview with AI, the managing partner Sukumar Saha (Suku) emphasises that “human touch” lies at the heart of the firm’s working ethos. “Since most of our services are bespoke, it is paramount that we build up strong relationship with the clients, and we do this through the mean of human touch. The first thing is to understand the client’s needs. Each client will have a unique problem – identifying the problem is half the solution”, he explains. Once the problem has been identified, his firm works towards providing pragmatic and effective solutions.
Everybody within the firm, from top to bottom plays a very important role in meeting and exceeding clients’ expectations. “For example when conducting bookkeeping for a client, we need to understand the client’s business and needs, which would be done at a junior level. Good communication with the client and giving accurate information is critical” Suku adds.
Communication internally is also key, for example “if I am doing something for a client, I will let the other team members know what I am doing and when the client makes any contact, everybody in the team will know what they are talking about”. Concerning tax advice given by the firm, this falls into three categories – corporation tax, personal tax and VAT & PAYE. First of all, Suku outlines that the firm does not do cross-border tax, but in the UK they deal with corporation tax, and within that they ensure the client pays no more tax than is needed. In terms of personal tax, where an individual perhaps has their own company or another source of income, such as rental income, ARN HOXTON are only too happy to assist.
Also, when foreign individuals become tax residents in the UK they require a considerable amount of planning, so “we need to ensure that we manage their affairs efficiently and in the most tax efficient way” Suku explains. The challenge ARN HOXTON are facing in 2016 and beyond relates to technology. There are many online service providers that clients research into, where the accounting perhaps is done from home or from outside the UK. While potential clients can compare such firms online, they cannot however compare the services from one firm to another, Suku highlights. He adds that the client seeking a low fee may not find the human touch when considering online accounting services. When contemplating who to use for tax services, it is important that the potential client carefully considers the qualifications of the accountants, where they are based, their experience and effective communication from a potential firm.
“Unfortunately accounting profession is unregulated in the UK and anyone can call themselves accountants. Be wary!”. While advances in technology have been great for firms such as ARN HOXTON, “we still need those old-fashioned communication channels between the professionals and the clients. Technology will go forward and conquer the world, but at the same time human interaction will always be of paramount importance” Suku observes. Finally, Suku stresses that before appointing the accountant it is very important to meet them in person, to ascertain if the client feels comfortable working with them in the long term. If a face to face meeting is difficult, then talk to them on Skype, check who their clients are etc. “Don’t just focus on the costs but on the value that accountant can add”.
Suku wittingly brings in the analogy of brake pads to the accountancy profession; “Accountants are like the brake pads in your car. You will not usually notice them but they are extremely important, and when you need them most, they need to be strong and effective.” – he concludes.