Hawsons makes history after 165 years in business

Hawsons Chartered Accountants is 165 years old

Hawsons Chartered Accountants was founded in the city of Sheffield in 1854 – more than 25 years before the creation of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales – by Alfred Allott and John Hewett.

Hawsons remains one of the longest-standing independent firms of chartered accountants in the UK. One of the main reasons why clients choose Hawsons is not just because of our experience and expertise in accountancy but the high-quality advice and service our team delivers.

Our mission is to provide our clients with service of the highest quality and value in a professional, friendly, and responsive manner, to assist them to develop their business, to develop the maximum potential of our people and thereby be the leading independent practice in the area.

Our unrivalled history demonstrates that through many periods of change, we have evolved as a business to ensure we continue to remain relevant to our clients, providing them with the quality and breadth of service they need.  Clients understand that irrespective of how small they are when they become a client or how large they will grow, Hawsons will always be there for them.

Our belief in long-term client relationships is why we offer all prospective clients a free initial meeting so we can really get to know you and your business and you can get to know us.

Chris Hill, Senior Partner at Hawsons, said on the firm’s development: “We’re proud of our extensive history and the success we’ve achieved since we were founded in Sheffield 165 years ago. To have reached such an age and still be going strong is a great feat. Despite our company’s growth and expansion into other areas across the UK, we’ve stayed true to our philosophy that no matter what size or sector, every business we work with will always receive the same high standard of advice and service from our team.”

If you are looking for an expert accountant book your free initial meeting with us here.

If you would like to find out more about us visit our website here.

 

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The new PSC Register – a new law for UK companies

The new PSC Register – a new law for UK companies

The new PSC Register 

With less than one month to go before the new PSC Register comes into force, company directors need to start planning now for their PSC Register, if they have not already done so.

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (the Act), which passed into law early in 2015, brings some significant changes to UK company law which will impact on UK companies of all types and sizes. In this article we look at one of those changes, the new PSC Register; a register which nearly all UK companies (other than UK listed companies, which are broadly exempt) must keep of persons with significant control (PSCs) over the company.

The information on the new PSC Register will need to be filed at Companies House from 30 June 2016, but companies must have their PSC Register in place from 6 April 2016.

In summary:

  • The changes introduce a public register of people with significant control (“PSC”s) over UK companies
  • Broadly, a PSC is a person who directly or indirectly owns more than 25% of the company or has the right to exercise, or actually exercises, significant influence or control over the company
  • Companies have to keep a register of PSCs and file information about the PSCs at Companies House
  • Filing this information will be done via an annual check and confirm process which will replace the requirement for an annual return
  • Companies are required to send notice to known/suspected PSCs requiring their confirmation of their PSC status
  • PSCs also have obligations to inform the relevant company of their PSC status
  • Breach is a criminal offence with sanctions of fines or imprisonment

Key dates for the new PSC Register are:

  • Companies to keep a PSC Register from 6 April 2016
  • Companies to file PSC information at Companies House from 30 June 2016

At present companies record only the immediate, legal owners of their shares.

In future, following the introduction of the new PSC Register, companies will have to look through that and also through however many layers of ownership there are above that to identify relevant persons who ultimately have significant control of the company, and keep a register of such people.

If you have any queries on the above or want to discuss in more detail how it affects you and your business, please do not hesitate to contact us.

For more information on the new PSC Register, please read the detailed briefing below.

Man in manufacturing working

What is the PSC Register and who is a PSC?

Under the new PSC register rules there are five specified conditions by which a person may have significant control over a company and therefore meet the criteria of a PSC. The legislation demands that companies take reasonable steps to identify and record all PSCs.

A PSC is anyone who meets one or more of the following conditions:

  1. Holds more than 25% of the shares in the company
  2. Holds more than 25% of the voting rights in the company
  3. Holds the right to appoint or remove a majority of the board of directors of the company
  4. Has the right to, or does, exercise significant influence or control over the company; or
  5. Has the right to, or does, exercise significant influence or control over a trust or firm satisfying any of the first four conditions.

The conditions for identifying a PSC will, for instance, catch persons having control of more than 25% of the company or controlling more than 25% of the voting rights of a company. Where two or more persons collectively have the relevant interest, they will all be caught in certain circumstances. In the case of a trust in the chain of ownership, the trustee will normally be regarded as the person with significant control, but it is possible that the beneficiaries may be considered to be significant controllers in certain circumstances.

One condition that is subjective and potentially broad, is that the person has the right to exercise, or actually exercises, ‘significant influence or control over the company’. The Secretary of State has published statutory guidance on the meaning of ‘significant influence and control’ in this context – please see the link at the bottom of this page.

For some companies, particularly those with complex ownership structures, the process of identifying PSCs may be challenging and will likely lead to a significant additional administrative burden.

When a company has identified that it does not have any PSCs, that company will still need to keep a register.

How will the new PSC Register work?

At present, companies record only the immediate, legal owners of their shares.

As mentioned above, following the introduction of the new PSC Register, companies will have to look through that and also through however many layers of ownership there are above that to identify relevant persons who ultimately have significant control of the company, and keep a register of such people.

The Act contains detailed provisions of steps the company must or may take to obtain relevant details. In particular, the company must send notice to anyone whom it knows or has reasonable cause to believe to be a registrable person (a PSC) requiring that person to confirm the position. Companies could, therefore, be expected to give notice to any shareholders holding more than 25% of the shares. A company may also give notice to a person if it knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the person knows the identity of a significant controller (or knows someone likely to have that knowledge).

A PSC will also be required to notify the company of their interest (or confirm their interest to the company).

The company will also be required to file the information on PSCs with Companies House. In the case of an individual, that individual’s name, month and year of birth, nationality and service address will be publicly available, together with details of the interest concerned. Where a company elects to keep its registers at Companies House, the day of birth will also be disclosed. The residential address will be available from Companies House (along with the full date of birth) only to the certain public authorities.

A company’s PSC Register is open to public inspection, subject to application to court that a request is not for a ‘proper purpose’.

Breaches of these provisions will be a criminal offence with sanction of fines or imprisonment.

Preparing for the new PSC Register

To prepare for the new PSC Register, companies must take action now to ensure that their PSC Register is in place by 6 April 2016. Companies must also ensure that their PSC Register is populated with the relevant information of its PSCs.

If for any reason the company does not have the relevant information of its PSCs by 6 April 2016, the company will still need to ensure that they have the appropriate official wording recorded in their PSC Register.

The company’s PSC Register must never be empty.

Government guidance states that when a company is in the process of taking reasonable steps, this fact must be entered on the PSC Register. The register must say that: ‘The company has not yet completed taking reasonable steps to find out if there is anyone who is a registrable person or a registrable relevant legal entity in relation to the company’.

For more information and advice

The deadline for establishing a PSC Register is less than a month away so companies and company directors need to start planning and putting in place the necessary processes and procedures now if they have not already done so. Completing and maintaining the new PSC Register may not always be a simple task, so please contact us if you want to discuss the requirements in more detail.

The Government has produced guidance for the new PSC Register, to help people understand and comply with the new rules. You can download the guidance here.

If you have any queries on the above or want to discuss in more detail how it affects you and your business please do not hesitate to contact us.

Paul Hutchings Audit Manager

Paul Hutchings has worked for Hawsons throughout his career and has many years’ experience managing the provision of audit, accountancy and tax services to a wide range of corporate clients. He is also the firm’s Technical Director responsible for maintaining technical standards across the firm. [/author_info]

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Hawsons makes history after 160 years in business

Hawsons makes history after 160 years in business

Hawsons is one of the longest standing firms of independent chartered accountants in England

Formed in December 1854, Hawsons celebrates 160 years of providing expert advice to businesses of all types and sizes. Our clients know that irrespective of how small they are when they become a client or how large they grow; Hawsons will always be there for them.

With around 100 staff across three offices in Sheffield, Doncaster and Northampton, Hawsons provides the breadth of expertise of some of the largest firms of accountants. Just as importantly, Hawsons also provides the highest quality of service and personal delivery of a local independent firm that is increasingly sought after by today’s successful business owners.

Speaking about this momentous year for the firm, Martyn Weatherall, Senior Partner said:

“We’re proud of our extensive history and the success we’ve achieved since we were founded in Sheffield 160 years ago. Especially with the difficult economic circumstances of recent years, to have reached such an age and still be going strong is a great feat. Despite our company’s growth and expansion into other areas across the UK, we’ve stayed true to our philosophy that no matter what size or sector, every business we work with will always receive the same high standard of advice and service from our team.”

The firm’s history

Richard Frost, Partner at Hawsons, has prepared the following summary of the firm’s history:

George Hawson was four years old when the firm that now bears his name was founded.

At the age of 16 he was teaching at his old school, Ashley House in Worksop and planning a career in the Ministry of the Church of England. However, a serious illness persuaded him that he needed to adopt a less strenuous vocation …. accountancy. He enrolled as a clerk to Alfred Allott who had built up what The Accountant magazine described as “one of the most important practices in the North of England”.

In 1854, over a quarter of a century before the creation of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, at a time when Sheffield had more straw hat makers than accountants, Allott left the employment of The Sheffield and Hallamshire Bank after 13½ years, the directors recording in the bank’s minutes “the high opinion they entertain of his ability, industry and conduct”.

He set up as a public accountant with John Hewett who advertised in The Sheffield Independent in late December 1854:

“Gentlemen – I beg respectfully to inform you that I have taken into partnership Mr Alfred Allott … whose business qualities, urbanity and manners, strict integrity and extensive commercial experience peculiarly qualify him for the position of Public Accountant and Confidential Agent”.

And so, as Hewett and Allott, the firm began in Central Chambers in Sheffield High Street, in December 1854.

central_chambers

(Above) The Chamber

Over the next 20 years Sheffield grew more rapidly than any other town in the country on the back of its burgeoning steel and engineering industries, fuelled by local coal and serviced by developing railways. And whilst Hewett left to become the first company secretary of John Brown & Co when it incorporated in 1864, the practice continued to develop.

By the early 1870s Alfred Allott was a widely known and respected figure. He was the auditor of the Midland Railway and was a specialist in the financing of railways and collieries; called in to investigate the affairs of the Scottish Caledonian Railway when it ran into trouble. With the introduction of limited liability he promoted many local publicly quoted companies – Midland Iron Company; Truswell’s Brewery; Samuel Fox; Davy Brothers; Joseph Rodgers; William Cooke, Brown Bayley and Dixon; Joseph Peace and Sheffield Forge and Rolling Mills to name but a few.

Elected to the Town Council in 1867 he became one of twelve Alderman in 1873 and was put forward as a local parliamentary candidate for the Liberal party. He sat on the School Board and was prominent in the local Congregational Church providing land and funds for the building of several chapels.

But this highly respected establishment figure, like many of his era, could not resist risk. Besides his accountancy practice, he owned a colliery at Pitsmoor, Renishaw Iron Works at Eckington, the Newbridge Iron Ore Company in Northamptonshire and a mine in Cornwall. And then he borrowed to invest £132,000 – many millions in today’s money – in land in far away Tennessee and Georgia, in the USA. He had hoped to exploit the land for its mineral wealth, but a prolonged worldwide slump followed, and in November 1876 Allott went bust.

This is where George Hawson came in; with Allott resigning from his accountancy practice with his then partners Thomas Hadfield and John Kidner and Hawson appointed partner in his place.

In an age where scandal meant ruin, surprisingly bankruptcy often attracted sympathy, perhaps because it happened to so many around that time, including the Lord Mayor. Within months Allott returned to the partnership and the firm moved to what were described as ‘sumptuous’ premises at Hartshead in 1878, where it was to stay until 1970. He was the first President of the Sheffield Institute of Accountants in 1877 and, three years later, a founder council member of the National Institute. By then he had moved to London, and by 1882, with Thomas Hadfield having set up on his own and John Kidner having moved to Northampton, Hawson was the sole partner remaining.

Mergers in Sheffield, Doncaster and Northampton

Hawson’s son Grafton joined the practice and when George retired in 1919, aged 69, Grafton merged firstly with Edgar Jenkinson and in 1926 with Hubert Nicholson. Subsequent mergers with long established Sheffield firms, A. Leslie Wing & Co. in 1946 and Hubert Smith in 1963 set the foundations for the current Sheffield office. In 1986 the firm moved to Northampton by joining up with Dutton & Co, and in 1990 merged with Harold Moon & Taylor in Doncaster. The latest merger took place just over a year ago with another long established and well known Sheffield firm, Holmes Widlake.

Sheffield office

(Above) The Hawsons Sheffield Office

Doncaster office

(Above) The Hawsons Doncaster Office

HawsonsNorthampton

(Above) The Hawsons Northampton Office

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