Business Tax Partner Simon Whiteside goes under the spotlight!

What is your role within RG?

I am the partner leading the Business Tax service line.  This encompasses many areas of tax including corporate, VAT, share schemes and transactional tax.  We are primarily an advisory service line.

Tell me about your career to date…

I graduated from Oxford University and after a short delay (largely playing rugby in South Africa) commenced my ACA training with Coopers & Lybrand in London, specialising in corporate tax.  When the PW-Coopers merger took place, I was looking to go overseas on secondment and took up an offer to leave the firm and spend an exciting 2 years in Hong Kong in an in-house role for Cable & Wireless plc. 

Following further in-house roles in London, latterly with Anglo American plc (a recently listed mining group), I returned to PwC London to work in their energy practice as a Tax Director.  I then relocated to Aberdeen to focus on the oil & gas service sector, but within a few years moved again to join EY in Newcastle to head up their local market tax practice.  The time with EY included managing key client relationships in the North East and a spell working in Scotland with a focus on landed estate clients and on the transactions market.

My move to Ryecroft Glenton in February 2018 was the opportunity to focus on the privately-owned client market and help with the firm’s strategy of taking on more complex client tax advisory and transactional work.

What does your current role involve?

It is an extremely varied role.  My team works closely with colleagues in all service lines, particularly audit and assurance and corporate finance, as well as on projects that span both business and personal tax.  We advise on a breadth of subject matters from international tax advice for clients with operations outside of the UK, to share scheme planning, advising clients on buying and selling businesses and a significant focus on family succession and value preservation.

No two client situations are the same and so no working week is the same: we need to make sure we anticipate and provide pro-active advice for whatever eventuality arises.  We have an experienced team able to manage the range of specialist knowledge needed to ensure our clients get market leading tax advice.

What makes RG different?

Our clear focus on understanding the needs of our clients and where we can make a difference for them.  The vast majority of our client businesses are privately owned, often by families or business partners and sometimes with external funding providers.  We understand the mix of stakeholders in these businesses and ensure our services are tailored to their many varied requirements.

Business tax is a great example of RG’s ‘client-centric’ approach where we ensure we understand what our clients’ goals are, challenge them, and then strive to generate solutions to deliver on these objectives.  We are extremely sensitive to risk and whenever possible seek to get assurances (such as HMRC clearances) to provide clients with the certainty they need to sleep well at night (a phrase often played back to me by clients)

My three most notable achievements to date would be…

  • Working in a number of different environments, including as a professional adviser in big 4 firms and now an independent firm, and in-house in blue chip corporates in both the UK and overseas – this has enabled me to bring a vast range of experience to my current role
  • Being a coach to a junior rugby team from age 9 to 16 years old and seeing the progress of the boys (my son included) across this time
  • Attending Oxford University (from a local comprehensive school background) and being one of only 4 undergraduates to play for Oxford in the 1991 Varsity rugby match (though don’t ask the score!)

Tell us about your day so far…

Leave the house at 7.30 having cooked breakfast for my 16 year old son and ensured he has all he needs packed up for a busy day of school and sport at RGS.  Having dropped him at school (with usually 3 or 4 full bags) arrive at my desk by 8.00 to clear emails and prepare for the day.

Work through the list of live prospects and share a summary for the upcoming partner meeting – this ensures all partners are aligned with, and support each other on, new business development.

Meet with our VAT consultant to prepare for an important client call in the afternoon: we are helping them prepare for international changes needed to their supply chain to manage future risks arising from Brexit.

Head out to a client meeting with a director from our accounts team to discuss restructuring plans for the client’s proposed transition from a sole trader to an incorporated business.  This is the final step in establishing the structure and agreeing the financial modelling and legal documentation.

Attend an internal meeting with colleagues from various teams to discuss staff matters and ensure our trainees are getting the right experience.  This includes supporting them through various cycles of experience in the different teams and planning for when to fit this in around exam training and client projects.

Along with colleagues, joining a client (skype) conference call to discuss Brexit planning, which includes their international tax advisers in Europe.

Leave the office in good time with the team to head to an entertaining evening with a local law firm with whom we share mutual client work, at Lane 7.  This involved ten pin bowling (not too competitive, although I did win the second game!), pool, table tennis and obviously a few drinks and food.

Home for 9.45 for a quick catch up with my family and dogs before catching the news and bed.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

Generally keeping busy with family life.  My son is a keen rugby player, so despite having hung up my coaching boots we are all still often found marching up and down the touchline of the RGS sports pitch or at away matches and festivals on a weekend.  Similarly, I have been known to cover a few miles (often with dogs in tow) up and down river towpaths or lakesides watching my daughter in a rowing crew.

As a family we enjoy getting out into the fresh air, either on beachside walks in Northumberland (having grown up by the seaside this seems to be in the blood) or in our favourite places over in the Lake District.

Also, my wife is an artist with her own working studio, so I help where I can in supporting this outside of work – such as being taxi-driver to the family over the weekends and when she has special events. 

And finally, leave us with one interesting fact about yourself

This is already covered above but (a while ago now) I played a rugby match at Twickenham in front of a full house and on live terrestrial TV.

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