A stone’s throw from the brouhaha of the City, through bustling Bethnal Green, steering into a quiet, cobbled street, I’m with Bhav Chawda and Aisha Bano, the Partners of A&B Tax Consultants. Both in their early 30s, they instantly dispel the stuffy suit and tie stigma associated with the finance professionals of yesteryear.
“Because of our age, we have to prove ourselves twice as much as other firms,” Bhav explains. “Clients test us more than they normally would; they want to make sure we know our stuff, but it doesn’t take long before they’re comfortable with us and confident in our ability.”
Of course, ability must always be married with undying endeavour for its potency to be realised; fortunately, both founders have buckets of enthusiasm to give and a deep well of inspiration to draw from. The former is evidenced by their dedicated and fastidious work ethic, underlined by the fact that neither could remember the last time they had a break – aside from dawn workouts. Aisha attributes her motivation to her business partner: “I’m not just saying it because he’s sitting here! I have been in the industry for some time now and Bhav is genuinely the best tax advisor around. The way he operates and the level of effort he puts in is a real inspiration for our team.”
With such harmony and mutual respect, it is plain to see that this is a match made in tax heaven or perhaps, haven. Their bond is strengthened by their common distaste for advisors who prioritise their own profit maximisation over helping their clients, a deal-breaker which they say led them both away from corporate greed and towards a future which they could create themselves.
Redrawing their route from graduation to launching a company uncovered hints as to why they have enjoyed admirable growth in a relatively short space of time. One such clue is their shared a desire to throw themselves into the deep-end and never settle for the buttery comfort of a steady job, as evidenced by their career choices. Learning, testing and challenging – these were the sweat-inducing, time consuming dirt-covered diamonds they sought. Bhav and Aisha cherish their exposure to different roles and environments – from small accounting firms to wealth management giants. It bestowed upon them a pool of agility, versatility and know-how which they dip into every day dealing with a diverse but refined portfolio of clients. The duo is expected to be more than dynamic; they have to bring more than just the bread and butter to the table to cater for HNWI’s, start-ups and SME’s who all come with a unique set of circumstances, risks and opportunities. With their diverse experience behind them and their excellent track record before them, this is a tax team ready to take on any challenge. “It can take a year to win a client, but just a few seconds to lose them”, quips Aisha.
Bhav and Aisha rapidly mastered the art of growing and sustaining a satisfied roster of clientele. Rather like asking a chef for the recipe to their secret sauce, I tenderly set out my trawler to catch the qualities which separate them from the pack and find out what business owners and HNWI’s should look for in a tax advisor.
According to A&B Tax Consultants, here’s what to keep in mind when you’re shopping for an advisor:
1. The Bigger Picture
Bhav Chawda: “The way to check if your tax advisor truly cares about what’s best for you is by listening to their questions. They need to find out about your past business decisions, present situation and future goals; there should be a clear vision of your scenario and if they don’t seem interested then that should ring alarm bells.”
2. No Script
Bhav Chawda: “From experience, we know lots of firms train their staff to use a script to lead clients towards the same plan – this is counterproductive. We start with nothing but a blank piece of paper for notes because our goal is simply to get to know the person in front of us; their business, their life and ultimately how we can help them.”
3. Proactive Interaction
Aisha Bano: “We prefer face-to-face conversations and phone calls instead of relying solely on e-mails because that’s the best way to build a real relationship and stay up to date with any changes. If your tax advisor doesn’t attempt to create rapport, they can’t get to know you and that means they’ll never be able to give you an optimal plan.”
4. Capacity Control
Aisha Bano: “You should make sure that your tax advisor isn’t biting off more than they can chew. We prioritise the quality of our service over the quantity of clients we can have on board. We train our staff to think like this too, so they only take on new business when they’re ready to.”
5. Points of Contact
Bhav Chawda: “As the founders of our firm, we oversee everything that happens, and nothing is signed off before our stamp of approval is on it. Clients are more than comfortable dealing with our staff but it gives them extra confidence knowing we are available to talk or meet whenever they desire. You should be wary of tax advisory firms who are vague or evasive when it comes to your account manager.”
Words by Riky Bains
Photographs by Rahul Khona
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