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The blurred lines between accountancy and law firms

‘Private Client’ is a term used as a title of service lines by both accountancy and law firms. While it covers quite a large section of the services offered by both types of firms, the two worlds are seen by many as very different. For outsiders looking in, Private Client in an accountancy sense just means Personal Tax, and within law firms it means Trusts, Wills and Probate. These stereotypes are something I hear a lot on a daily basis. Many people think that, just because they started their career in accountancy, they couldn’t possibly look at jobs in law firms. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth!

In 2014, the ICAEW became a regulator of probate services. This meant that accountancy firms could apply to become registered providers of Probate and begin providing services that were once only available from a law firm. With this encroachment on their territory, I’ve seen a large portion of law firms fighting back and offering Personal Tax services to their pre-existing clients. 

With many accountancy firms looking to add extra service lines, such as offering Probate services, and some law firms starting to offer Personal Tax returns to their existing clients, the lines between the two types of businesses are becoming more and more blurred within the Private Client space. While you’re still probably better off getting your Wills and Trusts sorted by a law firm and your non-domiciled tax return completed at an accountancy firm, the Private Client teams in these firms often have professionals from both a legal and accountancy background.

So, what does this mean for you? 

For many people that specialise in Private Client, whether that be within law or accountancy, this is great news. With double the number of firms looking to offer their clients your skills, your options, when it comes time to look for a new role, have suddenly increased! The lines between the two sectors are definitely becoming less black and white, and who knows what services each will be offering in the next 20 years. 

The next time you see a role for a CTA qualified Tax Manager, it may not be for an accountancy practice, it could well be for a law firm. And, a STEP qualified Private Client Manager could fit nicely within the Private Client team of many accountancy firms I work with on a daily basis. 

If you’re interested in what options could be out there for you and would like a confidential chat about what the future could bring, then please feel free to get in contact with Harvey John.


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