Professional Excellence: Tax Law in Ireland
Catriona Coady provides tax and financial planning services to a wide variety of clients within Goodbody Stockbrokers. Her client base includes several HNW individuals and her role involves assisting those clients with their domestic and overseas tax affairs and addressing their tax planning needs. This tax technical expertise is on hand to assist with the financial planning and investment process.
Goodbody, part of the Fexco Group, is Ireland's longest established stockbroking firm with roots dating back to 1877. As well as being one of the leading institutional brokers and corporate finance houses, it is one of the largest wealth management firms in Ireland. Here Catriona tells us more about the company and her role.
What is your previous experience and how do you draw on this in your current role in Goodbody?
Prior to joining Goodbody I worked for a Big 4 firm. I started out my training with PwC and up to two years ago had spent a number of years working for EY. Although I was trained to understand all tax heads, my specialism has always been tax for HNW individuals and the specific tax issues affecting individuals working across multiple jurisdictions.
In my current role, my experience has proved invaluable to clients wishing to understand the tax implications of their financial plans and goals. This covers a wide range of issues which tax impacts such as clients’ succession plans, business exit plans, tax issues for entrepreneurs and cross border tax planning. It is an important service as it assists clients with understanding the tax implications of their financial plans and to enable clients to determine where further advice may be needed.
The tax implications of specific investments is also an area that I assist clients with. For example, not dissimilar to the UK, Ireland has a tax regime for investments in non-Irish funds which can be complex. The input I provide into the tax implications of investments helps clients to design their portfolios with tax efficiencies in mind while also aiming to achieve their desired investment return.
As a Private Client Tax & Pension Specialist, what are the typical challenges that clients approach you with? What are the most common day-to-day challenges that you are faced with?
Clients typically approach me initially with perhaps one or two specific investment objectives, but after discussing their personal circumstances in more detail, it becomes very clear that they have several more financial goals that they require assistance with or wish to achieve. These can range from wishing to retire early, involving detailed cashflow planning and target retirement funding to asset protection via trusts and family partnerships and suitable investments for those not domiciled in Ireland.
Pulling clients goals and objectives together into a clearly defined plan, which identifies overall net worth, detailed cashflow analysis, attitude to risk, overall asset allocation and a strategy for achieving their goals is an invaluable exercise and one that provides a guided path through the financial and investment process. While the initial challenges are in driving awareness of the full extent of our service offering and gathering the information required to compile a financial plan, the end product is a comprehensive document containing all the salient information related to the client’s financial plans and goals. This is a document that can be consulted and updated on an ongoing basis.
In your opinion, are there financial planning and investment issues relevant to both Irish and UK tax resident clients?
Given our close proximity there are numerous issues relevant to both Irish & UK tax resident clients. While not exhaustive, the following are examples of the issues that can arise:
Dual tax residence status
Many clients have dual tax residence status, meaning they are both Irish and UK tax residents. For example, Irish nationals can spend the working week living and working in the UK while also returning to Ireland every weekend and while doing so, accumulating wealth along the way. Navigating the two tax systems can be difficult, but with the right assistance and advice, it is possible to develop a financial plan which takes account of the tax regime of both jurisdictions. In several ways Ireland’s tax regime is similar to the UK - for example we have a tax regime for non-domiciled individuals for Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax (CGT). We also have similar rebasing rules for CGT purposes on certain events e.g. death. While expected to be improved, Ireland has a favourable CGT regime for entrepreneurs and an Enterprise & investment Scheme.
UK & Irish pension assets
Many clients have both Irish and UK private pensions, which can be defined benefit and/or defined contribution. They are also likely to have built up entitlements to both Irish and UK State Pension. The issues relevant to defined benefit pensions in the UK are just as much of an issue in Ireland with clients being offered enhanced transfer values (ETVs) in respect of their defined benefit entitlements. The decision whether to accept this offer is one that requires careful consideration and is an area in which we provide detailed planning and advice to clients.
There are also decisions for clients to make around whether to transfer a UK pension fund to Ireland or vice versa.
Cross-border estate taxes also play a large part in the advice provided to clients. This is because many hold assets in both jurisdictions and may be unaware that estate taxes can arise in both countries. As this is often overlooked, it is important to review a client’s asset base to determine the extent of the estate tax liability in both Ireland and the UK. Where taxes may be due in both countries, the Estate Tax Treaty should be consulted to determine whether any exemption or credit is available to mitigate the double tax charge.
When you first joined Goodbody, what were your goals in driving change within the company?
When I first joined, there was a definite need amongst the client base to have their financial plans and goals structured and delivered in a coordinated manner. This led to driving change in how we provide this service to clients. Clients respond very well to having a fully developed plan in relation to their evolving financial plans and to having a trusted advisor who is with them every step of the way in achieving their financial goals.
How would you evaluate your role and its impact over the last two years?
My role has deepened the tax expertise within Goodbody and as a result the service offering that we provide.
Seeing the benefit of the service to clients and colleagues is also very rewarding.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I would like to continue to enhance the client experience at Goodbody. Many clients accumulate wealth in a variety of different ways and very often do not have access to or obtain fully rounded advice. It would be my desire for clients to have a single provider experience in relation to meeting their personal financial and investment needs.
“I think in times of significant global economic change it is vital for clients to closely monitor their financial plans and goals and to work closely with their financial advisor. It is also important to have an advisor that can provide an investment and tax offering to ensure that both are appropriately aligned.”