An Interview with Mark Davies of Mark Davies & Associates

Mark Davies & Associates ("MDA") is an award-winning firm of Chartered Tax Advisers focussed on international clients. Mark Davies established MDA in 2007. Based in the City of London, it boasts HNW and UHNW clients from around the world, including the UK.

Mark Davies is a Chartered Tax Adviser with over 20 years post-qualified experience. He has been named Tax Commentator of the Year by Tolley's Taxation magazine and Tax Accountant of the Year by Spear's Wealth Management magazine.

Tell us why you work in tax?

I enjoy solving problems! In the 1950s Albert Einstein told his accountant "the hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes" since then technology has made the world much smaller, taxes have become more complex and governments more avaricious, which provides many tax problems to solve. I am a private client tax specialist, with a leaning towards international tax issues. This means that I am generally more interested in dealing with the tax issues of people rather than companies, although many wealthy individuals do not see the distinction between themselves and their businesses. I have a particular interest in dealing with UK resident non-doms, being one myself. I love the spirit of adventure that they have and I love the fact that with planning we can deliver considerable tax savings to our clients.

Why did you set up MDA?

Prior to setting up MDA I was a private client partner at a top 10 firm of accountants. My job had evolved into marketing and managing the private client practice, so I wanted to work in a business where I did more of the tax advice myself. In addition, I had spent the first 14 years or so in my career working for large accountancy practices. I wanted to work in a tax practice run by Chartered Tax Advisers, and not as a division of a multi-disciplinary accountancy practice. And because I couldn't find one I decided to set one up myself.

What makes MDA different from other firms?

We are different for a number of reasons. Firstly, we are a firm of private client Chartered Tax Advisers. This means that our clients are individuals and we can share the same perspective as them as we survey their business interests from the client's point of view. Typically, accountancy firms are more interested in the annuity business of servicing companies and see acting for the business owner as a side-line. We are not distracted by cross selling the likes of audit or consultancy services and we are able to offer independent advice and act nimbly on it.

Secondly, we aim to be the tax boutique of choice for international tax issues. To achieve this we hire talented staff who we train and develop and we adopt a business model where experience counts. This creates specialists who can provide our clients with clear, succinct, practical advice. This compares favourably with other firms who adopt a business model of leverage, passing the work down to the most junior staff who then recite the law rather than give a firm opinion.

What do you see happening in the private client space?

At present we have a period of turbulence. There is increasing pressure on HM Revenue to collect money, which has resulted in an increase in tax investigations and a hardening of approach - for example the willingness to issue Accelerated Payment Notices to force taxpayers to pay disputed tax. In addition, the political uncertainty of Brexit and the possibility of a far left government is unsettling. All in all this means that fewer UHNWs are moving to the UK, some resident non-dom UHNWs are leaving and even Brits are weighing up their options in a repeat of the 1970s brain drain. However, from our perspective, change makes opportunities and it is a good time to be working in international tax.


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