UK: STEP Journal Interview BDB's Nick Holland

Last Updated: 2 November 2012
Article by Nicholas Holland

The following is taken from STEP Journal - the award-winning official magazine of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. Find the interview here.

60 Second Interview with BDB Partner Nick Holland

Why did you enter this year's STEP Private Client Awards (PCAs)?

STEP is a global leader in private client accreditation and a STEP PCA is a true mark of quality. Bircham Dyson Bell (BDB) has been a market leader in private client work for well over a century but we were interested to press the case for BDB's recent intense and committed investment in contentious trusts and estates.

How important is winning a STEP PCA to your firm?

We were thrilled to be shortlisted for both our contentious and non-contentious work but absolutely delighted to have won a STEP PCA. This award marks a real achievement for us and a strong mark of the genuine quality of our team. The STEP Contentious Trust and Estates Team of the Year is an award around which our team can rally and in which we take great pride. We hold our competitors and friends who were also shortlisted in the highest regard and firmly agree with the judges that any of them would also have been a worthy winner.

How is your firm promoting the win to clients?

We have emailed many of our contacts and added the winner logo to our signatures.

You joined STEP as a QP student in 2008. How did you hear about the Society and why did you join?

When I moved to Cayman from Canada, my then managing partner, Sophia Harris of Solomon Harris, encouraged me to join. Thank God she did!

What does being part of STEP mean to you/your organisation?

We try to take full advantage of STEP's wealth of connections, its body of articles and knowledge but we also look to STEP to lobby and inform government about the effects of deterring private wealth investment through punitive tax and other measures. STEP membership is an essential component of any private wealth offering.

Private client practitioners comprise a broad spectrum. What do you think links practitioners/STEP members around the world?

The practitioners may be broad but we are all linked by our clients and our problems. There are many fewer high-net-worth individuals than people think and many, many fewer ultra-high-net-worth individuals. In counselling these individuals and families, we all come across the same issues eventually.

What's been the best STEP event you've attended and why?

To date my favourite was the STEP PCA ceremony! However, STEP Asia's conference, which we attended last week, was as superb as expected.

What are the main challenges facing your organisation/practitioners at the moment?

There is very good news and very bad news. First, the bad news: European governments have been proposing and to a lesser extent enacting sweeping tax changes to the treatment of trusts (and UK property structures) in a direct attack on many of our clients' structures.

Second, the good news: we are enormously excited by the coming introduction of damage-based fees for litigation. The availability of such funding will greatly enhance trustees' ability to pursue proceedings where the trust fund has been gutted by mismanagement or negligence.

How will you deal with these challenges?

We will fight the former with information and gallows humour.

What else is keeping you busy at work at the moment?

Consolidation in the trustee field combined with settlor-fee sensitivity and the migration of trust administration to lower cost, less experienced jurisdictions is just beginning to produce the first shoots of what will become a highly profitable harvest of trust litigation for decades to come.

Who has been your greatest mentor and why?

My greatest mentors have been Bryan Baynham QC, who taught me that a good litigator knows which tool to apply in what circumstance as well as the limits of ethical advocacy, and David Wingfield, who taught me to figure out your opponents' weakest ground and then force them to fight there.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have two sons, aged two and four, both of whom I adore. My wife and I spend our free time enslaved under their despotic regime.

What's the best book you have read this year? (It could be work-related or otherwise.)

Roots by Alex Haley.

What's your favourite quote?

'The heart has its reasons that reason knows not of.' (French mathematician Blaise Pascal)

Which social media channels do you use and why?

I use Facebook to share pictures of my kids with friends and family, and Skype to speak to them.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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