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A year of expansion for Grant Thornton’s tax offering

It’s been a year of expansion for the Grant Thornton tax practice in Northern Ireland, with high-profile appointments and continued revenue growth. The firm’s Head of Tax, Peter Legge, and recently promoted Partner, Alan Gourley, spoke to the Belfast Telegraph about how its employee culture and shareholder-first approach to clients has garnered incredible results.

As we reach the half-way point of 2022, it has already been another significant year for the market-leading tax team at Grant Thornton in Belfast.

The promotion of Alan Gourley, who recently joined Peter Legge as a Partner in the department reflects the success of Grant Thornton’s tax services and the wider firm as it continues to enjoy a sustained period of growth.

For Peter, the growth, which has seen revenues in the tax department increase more than seven-fold in the past eight years, can be attributed to a combination of quality clients and the excellence of Grant Thornton’s offering.

“We are of course very proud of the depth of expertise contained both within our tax team, and right across the entire Grant Thornton firm,” he said.

“It enables us to attract and retain not only the best clients from across all sectors but also the best people to work with us.

“That doesn’t come about by accident, but rather is thanks to the culture we’ve built at Grant Thornton. We really do place our people at the centre and can genuinely say we enjoy what we do, largely because we can see the impact that our work has on the organisations and businesses we work with.

“Built upon the foundation of wanting to deliver a truly first-class service to our client base, we provide the opportunity for people to fully realise their career potential.”

Alan, who is also Chair of Chartered Accountants Ireland’s Northern Ireland Tax Committee, joined the firm in 2018 and is one of Northern Ireland’s most sought-after advisers by high-net-worth individuals and private clients.

His promotion was one of a number in the senior tax team this year, with Jane Lee and Clare Fitzgerald also becoming Directors.  Meanwhile, new senior recruits include Aidan Lyons, who re-joined the firm as VAT Director, Sherena Deveney, Will Tipping and most recently Graeme Davies, which, together with 18 other new appointments this year alone, brings the Grant Thornton tax team in Belfast to almost 70.

Alan said:

“It is an incredibly exciting time to be a part of Grant Thornton and particularly pleasing from a personal point of view, having moved into a Partner role earlier this year.

“We have grown more in the last year than any other, both in terms of revenues and people.”

The growth is across the board, with combined staff numbers within Grant Thornton’s offices in Ireland now eclipsing 2,000.

Peter said:

“The growth has been massive and is down to having great clients for whom we add real value.

“Grant Thornton continues to attract recruits of the very highest level and this year, we are providing a record number of positions for new graduates.

“People are attracted to us, firstly because of the growth and quality of our client base but also for the variety of the work, which is both interesting and challenging.

“It’s somewhere where you can take ownership of your career and build up a wealth of experience in a short space of time.

“Culture is extremely important to us and has openness, transparency and inclusivity at its core.  This culture links through to staff engagement and staff satisfaction, which continues at record levels.  In fact, our most recent Staff Satisfaction Survey resulted in Employee Engagement of 90% and an eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score – a globally recognised measure of staff satisfaction) of +48 for 2021 – remarkably high for a professional services firm.”

For Alan, Grant Thornton’s ‘shareholder first’ approach has been key to the success of the practice.

“It’s about building up trusted and real relationships with clients, getting to know their personal and business objectives, and structuring your advice accordingly” he said.

“That remains the same, no matter the size of the client or the sector in which they operate, or where they carry out their business geographically.

“While we are focused on the local market, a great deal of the work we do has an international aspect also.

“It could be an indigenous firm expanding overseas or seeking to trade with new markets or a large global operator that is establishing a Northern Ireland base.

“Having a deep understanding of the tax implications on an international scale is one of the key specialisms within our expertise that has enabled the ongoing growth.

“Likewise, our team focused on Brexit, VAT, R&D Tax Reliefs and Incentives, and of course, private clients, have played a huge role.”

Looking ahead to the remainder of the year, Peter expects the growth of the practice to continue and for it to be another record year.

“We continue to see an increasing demand for our specialist knowledge as clients seek to navigate their way through greater tax complexities, both locally and across international markets, whilst pursuing new opportunities and contending the many challenges that no doubt still lie ahead.

“As a team, cutting through those complexities to provide real added value to our clients, is a challenge we relish.”

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