When is a disruptor really a distraction?

Posted on Tuesday 22 September 2020 by Luke Hamm | Chief Executive Officer

I am a change agent, always have been. I love to challenge the status quo of our business, with a drive to improve the outcomes for our clients. We should always be on our toes, asking ourselves how we do this quicker, better, and smarter.

Money for nothing

So when there are new kids on the R&D tax relief block making outrageous assertions that you can get the best R&D tax claim done in 15 minutes of an advisors time and for pennies, part of me would love that to be possible. But I know that it can’t be true and that these newcomers are not the funky, fintech disruptors they would have us believe, they are misleading, unprofessional, and represent sharp practice.

The old adage never rings truer, you get what you pay for. 5% of a small number is still a small number. If a platform is asking the question “What is your R&D?”, you are already missing most of the value an advisor can bring. Here at GovGrant, we don’t just look at a line in your accounts – that will only tell us part of the story. Our technical specialists will walk the floors to spot every opportunity and maximise your claim.

Where is the value of expertise?

This opens the floodgates to claims that quite frankly do not have a grain of R&D in them, and worse still, the client may never see the report to understand the claim they are making. Free Money- really? We must all remember what R&D tax is; it is a deployment mechanism for government to invest and this type of approach is destroying value, undermines the industrial strategy, and risks jeopardising this essential funding source for the people who deserve it.

Sharing the value of exploration

I can appreciate why some have concerns about contingent fee arrangements driving the right behaviour and why fixed fees seem more transparent. But I am still a firm believer in contingent, success aligned fee structures, as long as they stay true to what they should be, advisors willing to take on the risk of exploration instead of the client having to pay for it. The higher the risk, the more it will cost, and the risk vs reward mantra comes into play. It usually takes longer than a year to really do justice to the exploration hence why I struggle with the proposition of cheap fees, quick time, and no investment in client relationship.

Maintaining the highest standards

Sadly the R&D tax market now has to deal with some unscrupulous advisors who have seemingly moved from PPI into R&D. I applaud the advisors in the market who have proactively changed the Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) guidance and are pushing hard to get rid of these rouges.

We have an exceptional record of driving value to our clients and part of our secret sauce is that we are not afraid to challenge. We are so comfortable with our own identity, our approach, and our people I don’t consider these newcomers as competition, but I worry that they are value destroyers for businesses and in some cases, accountants.

Where does my comfort come from? Investment in people and processes. Whilst there may be low barriers to entry when it comes to being an R&D advisor, doing it well requires capital and continued investment in training, software, and client tools.

Disruption – bring it on

GovGrant is constantly evolving and not for a second am I scared of change, in fact, it tends to be the thing that inspires me. If we need to rip up the business model and start again to deliver for clients, then so be it. But what I won’t get into is a battle of manipulative sales messages that stroke the ego of the creator instead of serving the client.

Here at GovGrant we are changing the conversation around Intellectual Property (IP) so that the focus is on value creation. With our IP services we are aiming to lower the entry point so that IP is an accessible conversation. That’s innovation. That value for our clients. But let’s not pretend that preparing an R&D tax claim as a tick box exercise is anything other than a waste of your time.

GovGrant R&D tax relief

About Luke Hamm | Chief Executive Officer

Luke Hamm | Chief Executive OfficerJoining GovGrant in 2017 as Commercial Director, Luke now brings his passion for client delivery to the role of CEO. He ensures that GovGrant is taking its place as the UK’s largest specialist provider of IP services and R&D tax relief, helping our clients commercialise innovation. View profile