PwC responds to demand for tax advice with new hires
In recent years, wave after wave of new legislation has been introduced designed to better monitor companies based in offshore jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. This, in turn, has led to a big increase in demand for high-level expertise and guidance on matters of compliance and tax from companies in those domiciles.
Graeme Sunley, PwC Cayman territory leader, confirms the growth in demand. “We’ve continued to see strong demand for our tax services this year, and this is reflected in the investment of new resources across the practice. “Our tax professionals located in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda focus principally on our key industry groups, including investment funds, captives, commercial insurers and reinsurers,” he says.
On the back of this demand, PwC has responded by increasing the size and depth of the team specialising in this area of advice in these markets. In recent months, it has hired two experienced tax professionals who join from another Big 4 firm in the Cayman Islands.
Elizabeth Smeltzer and T.C. Leshikar join PwC’s tax practice as director and partner, respectively. Their appointments take PwC’s fast-growing team to 19 people in its combined Cayman/Bermuda tax practice.
“We are responding to increasing global complexity and the needs of our clients and the markets we serve,” says Richard Irvine, PwC tax services leader for Cayman and Bermuda.
“T.C. and Liz bring proven leadership and extensive technical capabilities to our growing tax practice. We welcome them to our team and look forward to the contributions they will bring to our clients and the markets.”
Smeltzer, who is based in Cayman, says she was tempted by the move to PwC because of the firm’s ambitions to grow its tax practice. She confirms that she has witnessed a rapid growth in demand for tax services driven by regulatory initiatives including the introduction of Common Reporting Standards (CRS) and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
“Ensuring compliance in many different countries has become a lot more complex and a lot of funds and captives that previously might have been used to minimal reporting have been dragged into it,” Smeltzer says. “The domiciles have been very proactive in dealing with these regulations, thus creating demand.”
Leshikar, also based in Cayman, says he was attracted by the entrepreneurial spirit at PwC and confirms that the provision of tax advice is currently a big growth area, driven further by the fact that more new formations of funds and captives are being seen, a reversal of what has been happening since the 2008 financial crisis.
“We are doing a lot more work for startups, helping them understand their tax classifications and tax reporting requirements,” he says.
PwC offers a very bespoke service, he adds. “There will be an initial evaluation for every company. For some there will still be no annual filing requirement, for others it can be much more complex,” he says.
New rule changes can come at any time.
“A new Internal Revenue Service rule on audit could change things, as could legislation depending on the direction of travel of President Trump,” Leshikar says. “That is why more firms understand the need for quality expertise on their tax affairs.”