Partner Camilla Wallace has recently won the coveted Trusted Advisor of the Year Award in STEP’s 2021/22 Private Client Awards. Read her 60-second interview below, originally published on the STEP website.
What is your role within your firm?
I am a partner and head up the firm’s Private Client Group which consists of our Private Client, Family and Residential Property teams. I also sit on the firm’s Board and International Committee.
How did it feel to win a STEP Private Client Award?
Initially I was incredibly surprised given the quality of my co-nominees, but of course absolutely delighted and honoured to have been recognised.
Why is winning a STEP PCA important to your firm?
I think I can fairly say that a STEP PCA is the most sought after and prestigious award in the private client industry for the standards of excellence that STEP upholds. Being recognised for that hallmark is very important to the firm – delivering the highest quality of advice and client service is a standard that all at Wedlake Bell strive to achieve.
What are the main challenges facing your organisation/practitioners at the moment?
The uncertainty surrounding when increases/reforms to capital taxes will come. The pandemic has left a huge hole in the public finances and although there have been tax reforms announced recently (I refer to the changes to corporation tax, national insurance and dividend tax), these will not make real headway into the deficit. The government is in possession of consultation reports into the reform of capital gains tax (CGT) and inheritance tax (IHT), and it must be a matter of time before changes are proposed. CGT rates are low and there are several IHT reliefs that are particularly generous and well-used.
How will you deal with these challenges?
I am advising clients to be wary of capital tax reforms in the near future. Where a client can make use of the current system of IHT reliefs (I am specifically thinking of the relief available for business and agricultural property and the seven-year rule), I am advising them to bank it whilst they can (in spite of recent government assurances). If it makes good investment or estate planning sense to make disposals of assets with in-built gains, I am advising clients to do so whilst CGT rates are low.
What do you like best about your job?
The variety of my clients – from anywhere in the world focusing on anything. From pharma to farming, tech to art, intangible crypto to tangible real estate. One minute I am looking at a tea business with operations in Nigeria; next I am looking at a UK based family’s open-ended investment company (OEIC) worth hundreds of millions. Whether it is a landed estate or a new tech start up, my clients’ interests span the globe and cut across all sectors.
.. and what do you feel is most worthwhile?
Helping individuals, families and their professional teams safeguard and maximise their wealth and organise their personal affairs, often during times of great crises or pressure – for example, the death of a loved one, divorce, disgruntlement or disposal of the family business.
What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?
You need a good technical brain teamed with extremely high levels of interpersonal skills – IQ and EQ. Good leadership isn’t about experience and age but about building relationships and interacting with clients.
Where do you see future growth, both in terms of sectors and jurisdictions?
I see growth continuing in the family offices sector, which has seen rapid expansion over the last decade. Family offices will continue to be the go-to investment management model for ultra-high-net-worth families due to the customisation, cost efficiency, control and flexibility benefits. I also see continued growth in the need for cross-border legal advice. The pandemic has facilitated the move to flexible home-working (in whole or part), and this will only encourage international mobility and global working. This will translate to the need for dovetailed multi-jurisdictional estate planning advice as properties/assets are acquired in different countries.
What do you feel are the main challenges facing your organisation/practitioners at the moment, and how will you deal with them?
I would say the challenges presented by remote working (beneficial though this can be). At Wedlake Bell, we have a strong team culture, and the ability to collaborate on client matters, discuss and share thoughts on thorny legal issues, and delegate/ supervise efficiently, enables us to deliver the best service to our clients. Achieving that in the changed workplace environment where most people will be “WFH” for at least part of the week is a challenge, but not insurmountable with good organisation and effort on the part of all involved.
Which social media channels do you use and why?
I use LinkedIn and try to keep up a regular flow of industry-specific commentary/views, either from myself or from members of my team. I do not have a Twitter account personally, but we have a team account – @PrivateClientWB – and we use this to post about issues that affect the Private Client world, including a weekly “Private Client Legal Updates” series.