Friday, February 8, 2008

Large firms providing tax support

I have just become aware of another change in the marketplace. Another niche tax practice has been acquired by a much large quoted specialist professional services organisation.

The press release includes refers to the group's "extensive network of general practice accountants and other professionals who need to seek outside assistance to help service tax client’s needs”.

I've no doubt that's true however I wonder how many in that network will want to use the services of a large professional services firm? Well, I would say that wouldn't I?

One of the catalysts behind the creation of the Tax Advice Network was the realisation that thousands of smaller firms of accountants only go to the larger firms when they have no other option.

I spent 3 years as director of tax support for professionals at WJB Chiltern plc. Although a large number of firms used the tax helpline the level of fees generated from those firms was generally very low. They didn't like the high fees, the London base, the tiers of management or the fact that the tax practice was linked to an accountancy firm that might be competing for their clients.

Since then Chiltern plc has been taken over by BDO Stoy Hayward. Now Shaws (or Shaw Tax as they used to be known) has been taken over by Begbies Traynor.

It's early days but I'm hopeful that accountants will prefer to engage with members of the Tax Advice Network when they require tax support. Vetted and cost effective independent tax advisers. No tiers of management or needless overhead costs and advisers who understand the pressures of running their own practice so that they and the accountants can relate better to each other.

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