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One minute with... Richard Hay

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What’s in your in-tray? 
Requests to divine the meaning of Brexit. Financial services and professional firms are, more broadly, adjusting to the myriad risks and opportunities posed by globalisation. Clients want to know what our dynamic world will look like in three years’ time.
The offshore industry has received considerable attention recently. Why?
Stories which are simple and sensational sell newspapers. The modern story of cross-border financial services is complex and mundane – not a good starting point for engaging public interest or understanding. British IFCs must do a better job of showing a sceptical public how their support for trade, investment, job creation and increased returns for pensions benefits everyone.  
The world described by John Grisham is long gone. UK offshore centres thrive because international business trusts their British inspired laws, courts and professionals. High regulatory standards predominate in the British finance centres, which clock some of the leading scores globally in their peer reviews.    
Suggest a potential upside for Brexit.
Could the risks to the UK economy posed by Brexit prompt UK politicians to draw back from their self-harming agenda for financial services?  
What is the role of morality in taxation?
Morality has a key role in tax system design. However, enforcement must be a matter of law, not personal opinion.
Comment on a recent development in tax that has caught your eye.
BEPS. This programme surged ahead initially in pursuit of a transparency agenda, but slowed when it turned to substantive changes in tax system design. There is no untapped pot of gold in corporate taxation. Countries must be prepared to reallocate taxing rights over income for the project to succeed. 
What key lesson have you learned?
Politics and business live in different worlds. Greater mutual understanding would benefit both.
What do you consider to be a highlight from your career to date?
Playing a part in the dialogue between financial services centres and governments on tax policy design and information exchange has been fascinating. Digitally enabled data collection and retrieval will have a profound impact on the relationship between citizen and state – well beyond the advertised purpose of enforcing current tax rules.   
What is your perspective on privacy?
Old and young see personal financial confidentiality in very different ways. The Facebook generation lives in a transparent world. Those born in the shadow of World War II see dangers in comprehensive government access to private life. The middle ground between the two perspectives may be full transparency for governments which does not extend to routine access by the public. The OECD takes the view that reporting candour is enhanced by taxpayer confidence that information will be kept secure in the government channels for which it was intended. I am inclined to agree with that view.
Aside from your immediate colleagues, who in tax do you most admire?
Michael Devereux, director of the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation. His expert views inform the ideologically charged tax policy debate.
You might not know this about me… 
After a six year career as a tax academic, I came to London in 1987 to establish the compliance department at Lehman Brothers. The crash that year was an extraordinary experience. Life as a tax lawyer is sedate by comparison!  
Issue: 1318
Categories: One minute with