Rob Withecombe is new UK Head of Tax for Grant Thornton

 In Grant Thornton

Following last week’s announcement of the appointment of Francesca Lagerberg to head up business and financial advisers Grant Thornton UK’s National Tax Office, the firm today announced that Rob Withecombe will succeed Ian Evans as the firm’s head of tax. Ian Evans moves to a newly-created role at Grant Thornton International (GTI) as global head of tax. The firm is also pleased to announce that Francesca Lagerberg will join as a partner to head up the firm’s National Tax Office.

Rob Withecombe assumed his new role as of 1 September 2006. With his strong background in advising entrepreneurs and their businesses and given Grant Thornton’s strength in this area, he will continue to head the national Entrepreneur and Private Client team.

Rob has been with the firm for over ten years and until recently he led one of the key London Tax businesses, turning it into one of the fastest growing and most profitable teams at Grant Thornton. The team’s achievement was recognised at the recent Lexis Nexis Taxation awards when they won the “Best tax team in a large firm” category. Rob will divide his time between his national leadership role and his client-facing role.

Under Rob’s direction, an operational restructuring of the tax business at the national level is under way. Taken together with key appointments, this will free him up to focus on both operational and strategic matters as well as continuing to deliver directly to clients. In line with the firm’s ambitions to have the tax business at he heart of the practice, Rob will also sit on the firm’s operating board. A National Tax Office is being created from both existing and new resources with the strategic objective of delivering technical excellence to the tax practice internally.

Francesca Lagerberg has 15 years’ experience in Tax and joins from Smith & Williamson where she was National Tax Director for four years, having set up its National Tax function. A qualified barrister, chartered accountant (Fellow) and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), she is also the Chairman of the Tax Faculty of the ICAEW. She is on the editorial board of Taxation magazine, the Council of the ICAEW and the Personal Tax Committee of the CIOT, and chairs the Tax Faculty Committee. She is also involved in two HMRC committees – The Administrative Burden Advisory Board and the Consultative Committee on HMRC Powers.

Francesca Lagerberg adds: “I am delighted to be joining Grant Thornton at an exciting time. The firm’s ambitions for the tax practice match my own and I’m looking forward to working with Rob to create the firm’s new National Tax Office.”

Ian Evans’ new role as global head of tax at GTI will involve working with country tax heads in developing and implementing the plans for Tax across GTI member firms. Ian Evans, global head of tax at Grant Thornton International comments: “I am excited by the prospect of my new role which comes at a time when market opportunities for our member firms are opening up and when they all have committed to Tax being a front-line service. One of the key parts of my role will be to assist these firms in the selection, appointment, development and retention of quality tax professionals at all levels. There is a shortage in supply of good people but Grant Thornton is a brand with its best times ahead of it. We are not constrained by pedestrian growth rates and growth affords opportunity. So, I am confident that we can attract the talent we need to provide the excellence in service that our clients across the globe are demanding and deserve.”

Rob Withecombe, head of tax at Grant Thornton, comments: “I am taking over the Tax practice when it is in a position of strength. Ian has done a great job in putting Tax at the heart of Grant Thornton. I am looking to build on his achievements, with further investment in people and our specialisms in the months and years to come. Our priorities for Tax remain recruiting and retaining the best talent in the market and developing our people into exceptional advisers and providing the highest level of client service to our clients. Francesca’s recruitment is a key investment in the future of the tax business. Our ambition is unlimited. We know that to create a winning environment we need achieve technical excellence and create a leading national support team. We can expect further growth in the future and key appointments to strengthen the practice further.”

Michael Cleary, national managing partner at Grant Thornton, comments: “Ian has done sterling work over the past five years in managing the Tax practice, and I wish Rob great success in his new role. Francesca’s appointment is a statement of our intent and is another example of the sustained investment programme initiated during Ian’s tenure. It further demonstrates we are fully committed to being a market leader in the area of Tax based on high levels of service, technical expertise and employing the very best people. The expansion of our Tax practice means that we are in the position of being a real and credible alternative to the Big Four.”

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