The founding of TaxAssist Accountants

The small business sector has traditionally been underserved and not always proactively supported in looking for ways to reduce tax liabilities and to develop their businesses. The founder John Westgarth FCA, anticipated that the demand for such a service would be ideal for a franchise network and so in 1995, he established TaxAssist Accountants. He made use of his experience and knowledge of how to build up a successful accountancy practice, having himself built up a client base of 500 with a turnover of £300k - to develop the TaxAssist Accountants franchise model and support infrastructure.  

Growing through franchising

Franchising is a proven, tried and tested route into self-employment and the banks are supportive in providing funding, as there is a lower rate of failure than going into business alone.

Through franchising we knew we could maximise growth potential to the mutual advantage of both TaxAssist Accountants and our franchisees. Franchising helps to minimise the risks and pitfalls usually associated with business start-ups, by providing specific guidance for franchisees newly into business. 

Franchisees pay an initial investment to us, the franchisor, which covers the initial set up requirements. This includes initial training, marketing, identification of premises and IT equipment, amongst many other things, which enables a franchisee to hit the ground running (a full break down can be viewed in our prospectus here).

Franchisees then pay a percentage of their monthly turnover to the franchisor, in return for ongoing business support. The support of a franchise removes many of the hurdles of starting and growing your own business, as highlighted by research by the British Franchise Association (bfa): around 90% of franchisees have independently reported a profit annually for well over 20 years consecutively.

TaxAssist is an ‘Established’ and long-standing Member of the bfa and adheres to their Code of Ethics. 

Franchisee Assisted Management Buyout

John Westgarth retired as Chairman and Director in 2014 after a Franchisee Assisted Management Buyout, which is believed to be the UK’s first such deal of its kind. Since then, following the creation of an internal share site which all eligible shareholders have access to, franchisees have been able to trade shares, access company accounts and the group strategic plans for the future. 

In 2022, with the TaxAssist brand covering five countries operating from more than 280 locations and servicing over 85,000 clients, TaxAssist Direct Group Directors Karl Sandall and Phil Sullivan, stood down as executive directors and sold a large percentage of their shares. As a result, TaxAssist franchisees now own almost 60% of The TaxAssist Group Ltd.

Over 170 franchisees are now investors in the company, alongside over 40 members of support staff, which represents the co-operative relationship we have in place. This is a unique relationship and even though the majority of our franchisees are shareholders, there’s no compulsion to purchase shares from The TaxAssist Group. 

Evolution of services

In recent years we have launched a number of additional services for our franchisees to offer to their clients. These new service lines offer an enormous opportunity for future growth of the TaxAssist brand with recurring income streams.

These include advisory, in-house payroll, tax consultancy and financial planning which offer a range of services to TaxAssist clients. These include pensions, investments, wealth planning, life insurance, critical illness insurance, income protection, family income benefit, relevant life and group policies, business protection including key person insurance and shareholder protection.

We have a team of experienced and qualified regionally based Independent Financial Advisers, delivering services by phone or video meetings, to all corners of the UK. Plans are in place to have Independent Financial Advisers operating from TaxAssist Accountants shops and offices.

This represents a huge opportunity for franchisees, with an extended range of services, providing a competitive advantage over local firms.  

Brand refresh

In 2024, The TaxAssist Group unveiled a new look series of brands to highlight that it can advise and support clients with much more than accountancy and tax services.

With people wanting and needing more from their accountant, detailed customer research identified that our previous branding did not reflect the range of innovative and personalised services that we offer for both business owners and individuals.

The company’s evolved branding maintains the personal, friendly and professional feel that TaxAssist is renowned for and incorporates the strapline ‘We can do more for you’, to reflect the extensive services clients can expect, all under one roof.

As well as a refreshed logo and strapline, a vibrant colour palette has been introduced to highlight the complementary brands. This can be seen across our digital presence and will be applied to shops and offices across the UK and Ireland over the next few years.

Refreshing the TaxAssist brand is a key development in the evolution of our franchise model and we are confident that the innovative and impactful design sets the network up for the future.

The new branding is expected to increase client attraction and retention and be even more appealing to potential TaxAssist Accountants looking to grow or buy a modern, professional accountancy practice with a clearly defined suite of services.

Interested in finding out more?

To find out more about owning and operating a TaxAssist Accountants business, take a look at our Prospectus. You can discover more about our business model, marketplace, franchise package, Initial Training Course, and much more. Click here to download our latest version.

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