Former EasyJet Head of Tax ‘lands’ Partnership at PEM
Chris Walklett, former Head of Tax for easyJet plc, joins leading Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors Peters Elworthy & Moore (PEM) as Business Tax Partner.
Chris brings a wealth of experience in running comprehensive tax functions for large corporate entities including tax risk management and substantial planning arrangements. Chris knows only too well that tax impacts on many wide ranging issues, be it group structuring, business strategy and transactions, and even relationships with key stakeholders. Larger businesses appreciate that management of tax, its risk and opportunities, is far more than a once a year compliance exercise. Tax risk and opportunity need to be considered at every turn. This grown-up approach need not be the preserve of larger corporate entities with the luxury of substantial tax management budgets. It is critical that tax is increasingly on the board room and management team agenda of all organisations; there is no point meeting business objectives only to find you have scored an own goal with your tax compliance.
Says Chris Walklett, “I am excited to be joining PEM and to be part of their award winning tax team. I am confident that my commercial expertise will bring a new dimension to the business tax service provided by PEM. PEM understands the commercial realities of managing a business and its projects whilst keeping tax in focus, managing relationships with HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”) and, the ever increasing burden of managing a ‘below the line’ item at the expense of an ‘above the line’ cost. Advisors will invariably focus on the tax they can save a client and are less likely to point out that the potential tax savings invariably come at a guaranteed cost (i.e. the advisors fees) which will impact on the bottom line. Whilst earnings or profit after tax are key metrics, ask yourself how many of your stakeholders are bothered about anything below profit before tax? They should be but the reality is many are not”.
The ‘tax tail shouldn’t wag the corporate dog’ may be an awful corporate cliche but it is an important consideration. A business should not focus on tax to the detriment of the business; however, management of tax should be viewed as an opportunity to retain greater value from key projects – a business cannot truly manage tax risk if it does not understand every material aspect of the projects and transactions it engages in. If it is not on top of such aspects then how can it be sure the project will be delivered, be commercially viable, or worse, be legally sound?
Chris continues, “Many is the time I have been asked to comment on potential tax impacts of projects only to find that the management team have failed to give consideration to fundamental issues, such as who are the key stakeholders in a transaction, how they interrelate and how the legal relationships are going to be documented (if at all).”
Adds Paul Chapman, Managing Partner at PEM, “We are delighted with Chris’s appointment which considerably strengthens our Business Tax function. Chris joins Sanchia Norris, Personal Tax Partner, who was appointed in October last year, Derek Carr who is the Tax Partner responsible for Employment Taxes & Incentives and Tom Nash, Partner of VAT. We now have an enviable team of vast experience and expertise in all areas of tax. The considerable commercial ‘in-house’ experience that Chris has built up working in industry, will allow PEM to offer something unique that many Accountancy firms simply cannot – a business tax service which understands the issues from a client’s perspective.
Chris’s plans to build on the existing strengths and by bringing his commercial tax experience to PEM really makes for exciting times. PEM’s broad range of experience and its competitive fee structure means businesses really do have a viable cost effective alternative to the larger firms. PEM has the expertise to assist businesses with tax strategy, from high level management and approach to tax risk, through to detailed review and support at the transaction level.”
PEM Tax Team Photo Caption: Business Tax Team at PEM, from front to back row – Chris Walklett, Jennifer Butler, Judith Pederzolli and Jeannette Hume.