Oliver Heslop is a highly experienced UK tax specialist dealing with expatriate cross border issues and is the official Expat Focus UK Taxation partner. In this interview we learn more about Oliver's background and experience and the services he can offer to British expats abroad and foreign nationals in the UK.
Expat Focus: Oliver, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to join Shipleys?Oliver Heslop: I did my tax training with Andersens and spent my time mostly in expatriate tax work. I once had a 6 month secondment at Rolls-Royce in Derby looking after their international expatriate program. There were challenges in Jordan and Iran, believe me! Andersens also assigned me to Poland in 2002 and I learned my pidgin Polish by watching Eastenders with Polish subtitles.
After Andersens broke up, most of my career has been with Deloitte tax, but I have had a spell with Ernst & Young in Reading. At E&Y, my clients were very wide ranging – IT workers from India, UK aerospace engineers seconded all over the world, and board directors in media and telecoms. We managed secondments to every continent except Antarctica.
Expat Focus: What services does Shipleys offer and what is your own role?
Oliver Heslop: I am the lead partner in expatriate tax at Shipleys LLP based in London and other centres. Our firm has 21 partners and more than 150 employees. Shipleys are part of AGN International, an association of over 90 firms. This week, I have been working with AGN colleagues in the US, Hungary, Japan and Norway. We are growing the expatriate practice by supporting large multinationals, but also British nationals throughout the globe and foreign nationals all over the UK.
Shipleys LLP offer all of the traditional accounting services – Audit, Insolvency, Corporate and Personal Tax. However our business culture is not like others. Our approach is very personal. We strive to achieve an in-depth knowledge of the opportunities and problems faced by our clients, to understand the personalities, to identify the real needs. The most striking feature about Shipleys is the level of specialism. We have a private client practice that manages many household names, numerous experts in the film industry, and a large trusts team not available at any other accounting firm I know.
Expat Focus: What UK taxation issues do your expat clients typically encounter?
Oliver Heslop: We can always provide the standard services : tax returns, expatriate payrolls, certificates of coverage, tax equalisation calculations and tax planning for foreign nationals.
These are the typical areas that arise when we meet new clients. Ordinarily, I am approached by UK nationals working overseas, or about to leave to work abroad. They will ask about how to stop paying UK income tax if possible, and how their National Insurance will work. These clients often have a UK rental property, perhaps some stock options, and a personal or company pension. We can cover all of these matters.
The other typical client profile is a foreign national who has come to work in the UK for perhaps 6 months, 2 years or even 5 years. They have issues which affect every UK resident, but we also consider the special tax reliefs which may apply, the impact of being non-domiciled in the UK, when the UK can tax their overseas income and how PAYE and National Insurance works.
Expat Focus: You've been an expat yourself – do you find that helps when dealing with clients?
Oliver Heslop: Great question! When people go on assignment, they are never prepared for the frustrations in the early months. An English client in the Netherlands told me she cannot set up broadband and it has driven her nuts. My American IT clients in London often complain when the UK has been slow to adopt new IT technology (“I need to turn my watch back 10 years!”) I have felt this frustration in Poland so I can share a client’s anxieties, but I later felt the immense satisfaction which comes when you feel more settled in your host country. When I meet clients it seems to help to share these negatives before we move on to the benefits of being abroad.
Expat Focus: If you could give just a few pieces of advice to our members in relation to UK taxation, what would they be?
Oliver Heslop: If you can, call me or another expat tax advisor before signing your assignment letter or contract. There are clauses that can be changed at no cost to your company that could benefit you for tax. Also, the date that you leave or arrive in the UK can greatly impact your UK tax position. Seek advice before you agree to leave the UK in, say, May, when late March can actually be much better for UK tax.
Expat Focus: What are your plans for the future?
Oliver Heslop: I joined Shipleys in 2010 and I’m committed to building up our expatriate practice. I have some very talented friends whom I want to recruit.
Expat Focus: What do you do to relax?
Oliver Heslop: I have a 5 year old daughter who loves her swimming and her biking, so we spend time doing that. I like good films like Trainspotting and Brighton Rock, and seem to be hooked on “House”, the TV show with Hugh Laurie!
Expat Focus: Oliver, thank you very much for your time!
Readers who would like to contact Oliver may do so through the enquiry form here.