Private clients are becoming increasingly savvy in understanding their tax affairs, Hyde says. When advising a new breed of a‘more tax competent demographic’, he says it is important to add value to clients by making sure that the advice on offer is ‘relationship-driven before it is tax-driven’.
‘Your technical skills will only get you so far,’ he says, adding that a good relationship should be built first with clients, with the technical advice gradually woven in.
The co-founder who focuses on US-based, cross-border tax affairs says that the increased US tax literacy has also impacted non-US families where a member of the family or a beneficiary of a family trust has become a US person.
‘This can create significant tension… there’s generally a disconnect between the tax needs of the US-beneficiary versus everybody else.’
Besides being more tax-aware, Hyde says changing political and media attitudes towards tax havens has had an impact. ‘It’s not only more difficult but it’s also increasingly less desirable to consider aggressive offshore planning techniques.
What worked a decade ago doesn’t work today and that’s increasingly accepted,’ he says.
When asked about the most memorable experience on his career, Hyde says it has to be the recent case of a widow who ‘had no understanding of the family assets or the family wealth’.
‘We helped her become a confident family matriarch,’ he says. ‘That was increasingly pleasing — to watch someone go from the first meeting where they sat down in tears, in pieces, saying, “I’m broken”.