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One minute with... Lee Holloway

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What’s keeping you busy at work at the moment?
BEPS, CBCR, TP, Brexit and business projects. The list is endless!
How do you see the in-house tax function evolving over the next five to ten years?
I can see more people moving in-house from practice. More and more groups find that it’s cheaper, and valuable to have a resource on tap all of the time. The benefit of being able to put advice into practice and see things through from start to finish is invaluable. Every tax adviser should do some time in-house in my opinion. Automation will free in-house teams up to do even more value added work.
What do you look for in a good adviser?
It’s really simple. It’s all about sector knowledge and having a decent business brain. It’s all very well being technically good but few tax advisers can see beyond this to advise on whether something makes commercial sense and how to implement the advice. The best tax people become ‘trusted advisers’ that you can pick up the phone to without fear that the clock is always ticking on fees; and you can talk through projects with them and get their commercial view.
What’s your view on outsourcing of tax work? How do you strike the right balance between keeping control in-house and outsourcing?
There’s lots in the press on this at the moment and I’m afraid much of it is poorly drafted and incorrect. Outsourcing some routine processes can sometimes be beneficial but every large corporate should have an in-house tax resource, fullstop. CFOs would not be able to manage SAO and risk without this and implementation of tax advice simply wouldn’t happen properly. It’s dangerous to outsource tax completely, it’s usually not cost effective, and the CFO can become removed from understanding the tax impact of transactions. The optimum structure is very clearly to have an in-house tax team with some excellent advisers that can be called upon when required. Often, the people talking about outsourcing have never worked in-house and don’t fully understand the issues.
What’s the biggest hurdle you face in your role? And what’s the top tip you’d give any in-house tax director?
The biggest hurdle I face is finding time to see everyone I need to. I have a lot of key stakeholders and a great team and I’d love to be able to spend more time with all of them. My tip is to get out into the business and don’t let the tax function become stuffy and boring. Business partnering is the key these days.
What’s the key tax challenge facing your industry sector?
I think the key challenges in retail are staying relevant and keeping up with trends. It’s fast-paced in this sector, so tax teams have to advise quickly and efficiently and stay close to the business. See my comments above – this is why completely outsourcing tax doesn’t work!
If you could make one change to UK tax law or practice, what would it be?
I’d change NICs and have a single calculation on payroll taxes.
You might not know this about me, but at heart I’m…
… a writer. I’ve had some work published and have written a novel. I keep changing it though!  
Issue: 1344
Categories: One minute with