Blevins Franks’ CEO Interview | John Simmonds
Blevins Franks are the leading international tax and wealth management advisers to UK nationals living in Europe, with a history dating back to 1975, and have been advising clients in Portugal for over 20 years.
We caught up with their Chief Executive, John Simmonds, recently and asked him about Blevins Franks and what they offer expatriates in Portugal.
What do you feel sets Blevins Franks apart when it comes to expatriates based here?
I am often asked this, and I always refer back to what clients said to me when I first joined Blevins Franks about 10 years ago. I attended a number of our seminars and events and took the opportunity to ask clients what they felt set us apart, and they typically came up with three things:
- You understand in detail the taxation here in Portugal, in the UK, and how the two systems interact and impact upon us;
- Your advisers are based locally here – just like us – and have done for many years;
- You have been providing cross-border advice to expatriates like us for a long time.
I think those three things are as relevant now as they were then.
The depth of experience the team here and in our central support teams is unrivalled, which I feel really helps clients feel confident they are getting the best advice available and that we will be here for them for the long-term.
At the end of the day, we are trying to give clients peace of mind so that they can enjoy their retirement here.
What do you enjoy about being Chief Executive of Blevins Franks?
The people: our staff and our clients.
I think we have a fantastic and experienced team of people in our Portugal team here and also in our central specialist support teams. They are nice people and easy to get along with – but they care deeply about our clients.
In my role I try to get out and meet clients as often as possible and I know a number of clients here in Portugal personally and consider them friends, not just clients. Our local team here focus on ensuring advice is up to date and carry our regular personal reviews, but we also make a point of reaching out to clients via golf, dinners, seminars and other events.
How have the last couple of years impacted on you and your team?
Well, with Covid we have worked remotely when we needed to – our infrastructure and video conferencing made this easy to adapt to – but we are now enjoying much more direct contact and are embarking on a series of seminars and events this spring.
We have also swiftly adapted to a post-Brexit world and launched a specialist ‘Emigration Advisory Service’ to help people in the UK wanting to move to Portugal but needing guidance on the best way to do so.
And although most of our clients are UK nationals, we are also encountering more and more Irish nationals who – like their British counterparts – have retired to Portugal to enjoy the lifestyle and weather, but need specialist professional advice.
And while geo-political events such as we have seen in Ukraine recently are always unsettling, our client portfolios are very well-diversified and over the longer term have served clients well in the face of the credit crunch in 2008 and other economic and political events at various times.
Our clients are used to change and – like us – recognise that wealth preservation and long-term returns are important. What we wrap around that is an in-depth understanding of cross-border taxation to make sure their affairs and long-term plans for their family’s wealth are properly dealt with.
One final question – how do you switch off and relax?
I like to think that I manage to stay fairly relaxed as that is important to make sound decisions on behalf of our clients and staff. I usually think about the company and our clients whatever I’m doing, but when it comes to leisure I enjoy cycling, golf and sailing and watching rugby (I hung my boots up several years ago!).