UK: Services To Professional Practices
Last Updated: 12 June 2008

Smith & Williamson is widely recognised as a leading specialist adviser to professional practices and their partners. We have considerable expertise in this market and provide a range of high-quality services to both individuals and their firms, from local to global practices.

Our services

Audit and accounting

  • Annual statutory audit for limited liability partnerships (LLPs)

  • Annual audit or review of partnership accounts

  • Accountant’s report on compliance with Solicitors’ Accounts Rules

Taxation

  • Tax compliance and planning

  • International tax structuring and transfer pricing

  • Remuneration planning and employee benefit solutions

  • VAT and PAYE advice

Advisory

  • Merger, acquisition and due diligence advice

  • Risk management procedures

  • Succession planning

  • Advice on conversion to LLP and assistance with the conversion process

  • Assistance in partnership disputes

  • General financial and business advisory services

Services to partners

  • Personal tax compliance and planning

  • Pension and life assurance design for both partnerships and individuals

  • Personal financial planning

  • Effective tax strategies for nondomiciled partners

  • Investment management

The benefits for your business

  • Our professional practices team includes over 25 directors and associate directors, and 50 managers and staff, with specialist knowledge and expertise.

  • Our services are director-led, giving you direct access to experienced professionals.

  • We offer a co-ordinated cross-discipline approach and provide all-round advice relevant to your business and situation.

  • We run financial clinics for partners to discuss their financial goals and identify tax and financial planning opportunities.

  • We are involved in the Association of Partnership Practitioners and the body responsible for developing accounting standards for LLPs. We are thus at the forefront of assimilating and advising on changes affecting the marketplace, and can use this information to provide you with market-leading advice.

  • Our extensive experience of implementing tax-efficient structures allows us to give you sound tax advice for your firm and partners.

  • We facilitate discussion forums and seminars for senior, managing and finance partners/directors, providing updates on topical issues and allowing for the sharing of ideas.

  • We publish a regular newsletter on topical issues relevant to professional practices.

  • We currently advise over 100 professional practices and will apply this experience to your firm.

  • We place emphasis on providing efficient, ‘to the point’ advice at competitive fee rates.

  • We operate within the International Professional Practices Group of Nexia International, an international network of independent auditors, business advisers and consultants.

sharing our know-how

Our professional practices team has authored Tottel’s Professional Practices Handbook and Accounts and Audits of Limited Liability Partnerships. We’ve also contributed to publications such as A Practioner’s Guide to Partnership and LLP Law and Regulation, Limited Liability Partnerships – A Guide for Professionals, and Limited Liability Partnerships – The New Law, and members of the team regularly speak at conferences and write articles for the trade press.

Client case studies

International LLP conversion

We recently advised an international firm of property advisers with an extensive network throughout Europe on their expansion into the Baltic States. We were then asked to consider the impact of converting the UK partnership to an LLP and how this would affect the firm’s overseas operations.

The UK partnership conversion raised a number of the more common issues, for example, how annuitants should be dealt with and the debate about whether salaried partners should become self-employed or remain employees.

The international aspects needed a flexible approach as the UK LLP is not treated as tax transparent in all jurisdictions. This resulted in the creation of a group of companies below the parent UK LLP.

Law firm disposal

We advised a niche legal practice on its ‘disposal’ for a capital sum to a City practice. Our work involved considering the transaction in terms of the Legal Services Act 2007, assisting with the business valuation and assessing the value of the offer, advising on negotiations and assessing the tax implications.

Financial review

We helped our client, a growing and profitable firm, with a review of its funding structure to ensure it had an appropriate quantity and mix of finance to fund its growth.

We undertook a complete review of the firm’s working capital cycle, from instigation of the engagement through to physical cash collection. Having highlighted areas where improvements could be made and by benchmarking our client against industry practice, we were able to help our client set realistic targets and revise its remuneration structure to reward good working capital management.

Transatlantic law firm merger

Our client, a US law firm, was looking to merge with a UK firm. Profit-sharing arrangements in the combined firm needed to allow for differences in accounting practice between the US and UK. However, the UK LLP would still need to file accruals-based accounts in the UK, which would form the basis for determining UK taxable profit. We worked with the client to ensure the combination agreements achieved their desired outcome within these constraints.

As part of our financial due diligence, we restated the firm’s accounts and budgets for comparability with the US.

International tax structuring

A client recently asked us for advice on suitable structures for expansion into France and Germany. The firm had initiated the process by setting up a partnership in France but, owing to the local restrictions on practicing certificates for non-residents, such a structure was not ideal for a professional services firm dominated by the UK partnership.

We recommended using limited liability companies rather than transparent entities for the overseas operations. The significant advantage was the ease with which these entities could be set up and regulatory approval obtained. In addition, as the principals would continue to be partners of the UK partnership, fiscal advantages would be retained for them, particularly as a result of the double taxation treaties with France and Germany.

Given that the overseas subsidiaries sustained losses for the initial years, we recommended that the companies become dual resident to enable the losses to be relieved against the profits of the UK subsidiaries in the group. This led to a significant tax saving.

We worked with our Nexia colleagues to establish the companies, obtain regulatory approval, and register for VAT, income tax and social security purposes.

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