Amid the current Brexit brouhaha, one Atlanta accounting firm is setting up its first overseas office in London.
While many financial outfits are fleeing the United Kingdom as it continues on its winding path toward exiting the European Union, Frazier & Deeter LLC sees opportunity in providing its trademark personal touch for clients doing business across the pond.
According to a statement from Managing Partner Seth McDaniel, Frazier & Deeter is betting on increased bilateral business between the U.S. and the U.K. after the latter’s EU departure, which some believe will tie the trans-Atlantic allies closer together on trade and investment.
Indeed, U.K. officials have said that striking a deal with the United States is the government’s top trade priority once it has shed the EU’s negotiating mandate. (As a current EU member, the U.K. cannot strike its own bilateral deals, and the ability to do so was one advantage touted by Brexit supporters.)
Many firms serve the British market through international alliances with like-minded local firms, but Frazier & Deeter believes an approach integrating the London outpost with its nine U.S. offices provides a certain reassurance for clients in a time of turmoil.
“Obviously Brexit has been quite a rollercoaster ride for the business community in the U.K.,” Mr. McDaniel said in a recent interview. “We see our move as offering a new option to businesses who may be having to rethink their providers and alliances. We believe that our business model, which emphasizes meaningful access to partners and operating as one firm rather than as an alliance between independent firms, will be well received in the U.K.”
The Brexit situation changes by the day, as the Conservative-led government has struggled to gain the votes in parliament needed to approve the Brexit plan it struck with the EU.
The March 29 deadline for an agreement was extended to April 12, but it’s not a foregone conclusion that Prime Minister Theresa May can come up with a deal that appeases factions and nest a majority of votes. Some have warned of severe harm to the U.K. economy if it “crashes out” of the EU without a deal in place.
Frazier & Deeter UK is run by lead partner Malcolm Joy, an international tax expert who was formerly an equity partner with consulting firm BDO. He is supported in the U.S. currently by international tax partner Michael Whitacre and audit partner Sean Lager, but the London office plans to add more members to its team this year.
Mr. Whitacre and Mr. Joy discussed the potential impacts and current state of Brexit affairs in a Frazier & Deeter podcast interview March 19, with Mr. Joy providing a broad overview of the seemingly intractable problems facing the political negotiations — particularly the issue of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Companies, he added, should be looking at their supply chains and tax strategies in the event that the U.K. does find itself outside the bloc.
“At the moment, goods coming into the U.K. do so quite seamlessly with limited checks, but if we are outside the U.K., there will be checks and delays and customs duties payable before those goods can be moved on,” Mr. Joy said in the discussion.
He added that he doesn’t believe the U.K. would eliminate its VAT regulations, even though they were originally added to comply with EU rules. Still, Brexit could bring changes in VAT implementation, along with shifts in corporate income tax liabilities, especially the treatment of dividends sent from EU subsidiaries back to the U.K.
Along with issues surrounding Brexit, trade and investment topics in six EU countries will be on the docket during the third annual Springboard to Europe seminar hosted by Frazier & Deeter and law firm Arnall Golden Gregory LLP in Atlanta on May 14.
Learn more about that event and sign up here.
Learn more about the new London office at www.frazierdeeter.co.uk.