Abbey Tax Protection buys R&D specialist HowarthLynch

Abbey Tax Protection has branched out into R&D tax credits consultancy, with the acquisition of Sheffield-based HowarthLynch for an undisclosed sum.

Moving into specialist tax services may not be the most obvious route for a fee protection specialist, but the deal is part of a longer term strategy to expand Abbey’s range of services, according to Abbey Protection Group chief executive Colin Davison.

The company has developed its own embedded capital allowances services and back in 2008, it acquired the IR35 specialist adviser, Accountax, Davison explained.

“We position ourselves as the place to go for the High Street practitioner if they want specialist tax services,” he said. “This [deal] will really help grow the bandwidth of the services we can offer to accountants.”

The company’s research has shown that if small businesses want such advice they go to their accountants.

 “Accountants are very much the hub for those activities - but many don’t have embedded R&D credits or capital allowances advisory services and they need some pace to go. They’re reluctant to go to the Big Four for fear of losing customers.

“We provide those services only to and through our firms of accounantts. We will never go directly to the end customer, unless one of our accountant clents asks.”

“If an accountancy customer is happy with the services we provide, that will make the bond even stronger.”

As part of its fee protection service, Abbey Fee Protection operates a tax advice line that receives around 50,000 calls a year. Analysing those calls gives Abbey a great overview of what’s happening in the market, and highlighted the growing interest in R&D tax credits, Davison said.

“We’ve worked with HowarthLynch for a number of years and identified there were people there who would be great to be part of our organisation,” he continued.

A change of ownership that saw Abbey join the US-based Markel Corporation actually delayed the deal, “We’ve been looking at it for some time and the time is right now to do that.”

Alison Lynch, who founded HowarthLynch in 2009, will manage the new consultancy business and work with Abbey to expand its portfolio even further.

“Alison’s been working on some great products, for example around the patent box and R&D grants. These will be things we’re planning to make available to accountants.”