28 Jan 2020


Client case study Interview with: William Nicholas, Driva Advisors Limited

Interview with: William Nicholas, Driva Advisors Limited

What were the Challenges?

Incorporating a business and dealing with personal finances

William previously lived in Malta, running a Hedge Fund. When he moved to Oxford with his family he contacted two local accounting practices to help him set incorporate a small consulting company. He was impressed by the speed of response and the detail received from Shaw Gibbs Director Leigh Smith so engaged Shaw Gibbs to carry out the incorporation of his company and do his personal tax returns. Since then, William has dealt with David Rickwood for US tax returns and Ed Gibson for Financial Planning.

Expanding internationally

In 2014, William spotted an opportunity to invest into medical cannabis in the US. At the time, he was struck by article in the New York Times covering the ‘opioid crises in the US and the way in which medical cannabis might address this. William carried out a lot of research into prohibition and decided this was a ‘once in a lifetime’ to make an investment into one of the largest changes in medicine. He decided to look for a company who would become the ‘Jack Daniels’ of cannabis and found AltMed who were operating in his home state of Florida.

AltMed produce smoke-free medical marijuana products (such as gels and patches) to treat pain. They also have operations in Arizona. At the time, cannabis was not even legal in Florida and William was their first external investor. Now, 30 or so states in the US have legalised the use of marijuana for pain relief (and even recreational use in some cases) and the European market is opening up. In April 2018 William approached AltMed to see if he could help to get their products into Europe.

How did Shaw Gibbs help?

William discovered that the notion of a transatlantic business operating a pan-European business is a very complex structure. He decided to take advice from Leigh in respect of:

· The best legal entity for this business

· Whereabouts in Europe he should set up the holding company

Leigh contacted firms within the Shaw Gibbs international association (DFK) to scope out the opportunity with regards to the most favourable tax treatment for the holding co. Leigh liaised with member firms in the Netherlands, Portugal and Ireland. Leigh’s findings in conjunction with those of the member firms enabled William to take the decision to set up the company in Ireland. William found the scoping to be a simple process in that Leigh did the legwork and presented him with the findings rather than having to identify a suitable accountant in each country himself and speak with them individually.

What were the results?

William decided that Ireland was the most suitable option for the holding company and he is now in contact with Crowleys DFK in Cork, they have provided him with an ‘invaluable’ forecast spreadsheet which includes set-up and first-year costs. He knows what the structure of the company will be and Crowleys DFK are ready to go once Will ‘pushes the button’.

He was very impressed at how Shaw Gibbs were able to pull the information from the various countries together in a relatively short space of time. Leigh defined the work at the start and was very clear with the range of fees stipulated so there were no surprises. In William’s experience, some service providers see the opportunity to ‘go to the bank’ and he did not have this with Shaw Gibbs.

In dealing with the DFK member firms, William felt they had the same intellectual detail combined with responsiveness that he had grown used to with Shaw Gibbs. He appreciates the fact that he didn’t have to wait to wait for weeks for a response and there was no ‘gap’ between the service Leigh and Crowleys DFK provided.

Shaw Gibbs have been a critical component for me and my family getting our financial affairs sorted in Oxford. Leigh Smith has provided me with a responsive and detailed service and introduced me to colleagues within Shaw Gibbs when I needed them.

Leigh has also liaised with DFK member-firms in the Netherlands, Portugal and Ireland and this has enabled me to make a decision about where to set up in order to expand into Europe. I have found this to be a simple process and the DFK member-firms have the same intellectual detail combined with responsiveness that I have grown used to with Shaw Gibbs.

William Nicholas, Driva Advisors Limited

Client case study Interview with: William Nicholas, Driva Advisors Limited
Client case study Interview with: William Nicholas, Driva Advisors Limited
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