What's your favourite photo, 1 or 2? (please leave a comment)
I photographed Andrew, and asked him few questions.
ANDREW WALTERS, International tax advisor, specialising in US and UK tax, and a LIBERAL DEMOCRAT councillor on Salford City Council
WHAT PROBLEMS DOES YOUR BUSINESS SOLVE?
I help American citizens who may not know that they have filing requirement in the US. There are very few US qualified accountants in the UK, and very few tax advisers who cater to US expats.
I offer a fully comprehensive service for US citizens who are outside the US, who are not represented by the vast majority of US and UK tax advisers. These people are falling through the cracks and they have almost no one who can represent them except the big four firms who charge extremely high fees.
I’m one of the only firms that charge reasonable fees and I am dual qualified in both the US and the UK.
WHAT WAS YOUR MISSION AT THE START OF YOUR COMPANY?
To provide a one stop service for anyone with international issues, so rather than people having to go to their English accountant for one thing, their American accountant for something else, the immigration people for those issues, I am the one stop shop, one point of contact, and it is far less stressful.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR?
Not being able to provide for my family
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO WOK HARD?
I love what I do and see I can make a difference. People are so worried about issues, and feel so lost, and I know I can help them and reassure them. I can help people sleep better at nights and that motivates me to work hard.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOUR CAREER?
Coming up with innovative solutions for problems. Since there is a mix between international tax, there are many gray areas. Sometimes it’s very hard to find the right path, and then you get the spark of inspiration. Using that spark, not just following the books, is a real enjoyment for me.
I consider what I do more of an art than a science. Finding personalised solutions for each person.
IF MONEY WAS NO OBJECT, WHAT WOULD YOU DO ALL DAY?
Sit and study and improve my mind, learning new things.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN TEN YEARS?
From a business point of work, I would be doing more consultancy work, less compliance work. Having more staff to do the day to day work, so that I would have time to work on finding innovative solutions and problem solving.
HOW HAS BEING AN ENTREPENUER AFFECTED YOUR FAMILY LIFE?
It’s difficult, because I don’t have fixed hours, and don’t have a fixed job description, and can sometimes be busy until 2 or 3 in the morning sorting our problems for people, which is obviously difficult for the family. But on the other hand, because I work for myself, I can take holidays when I want to, choose to spend time with my kids when I want to; I’m in complete control, more or less, of my time management.
So it can be difficult, but it has its positive sides.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
Success is starting out a project with a list of goals and aims and at the end seeing that the goals and targets have been met. If you don’t have goals at the beginning there is no way of measuring success
IF YOU HAD A CHANCE TO START YOUR CAREER AGAIN, WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?
I would be less of a busy fool. What I mean is at the beginning I competed on price, desperate to get business. I was new, didn’t have experience, and the only think I could think of was to be cheap, but people took advantage and didn’t take it seriously because it was cheap. It’s a race to the bottom because you are always going to find someone who is cheaper.
So what I would do differently is do the same thing but instead of taking on everyone, I would be more selective of my clients, not taking on a client if I didn’t think it was the right fit.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE TOP THREE SKILLS NEEDED TO BE A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPENEUR?
1. The ability to dream and to fantasize about the impossible. Not to be stuck into thinking that this is impossible and can’t be done. Everything – flying in an aeroplane, electricity, a couple of hundred years ago was all impossible. So everything is possible. Having that absolute mindset that nothing is impossible.
2. The ability to work with people who are smaller or bigger than you. An entrepreneur who won’t respect people who are less able or qualified will never be successful. The ability to treat people who are lower educated or qualified with the same respect as someone who is ‘better’.
3. The ability to take risks. By taking a risk, by definition, there is a possibility of losing. If it’s guaranteed it’s not a risk. You’ve got to be prepared to lose sometimes. A person has to be able to lose again and again; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. A person who says this is not for me, it hurts too much, that person won’t be successful. Think about people like Bill Gates, they were bankrupt several times before they were successful, but not only were they prepared to take risks, they were prepared to take responsibility for their risks.
WHO HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST INSPIRATION?
Definitely my father. He was orphaned when he was 7 - his father passed away and he grew up with his mother, with no money, but he worked hard and accomplished what he wanted to in life.
IF YOU HAD A MAGIC WAND, WHICH THREE THINGS WOULD YOU CHANGE IN THE WORLD?
We’re talking fantasy here, right? First, get rid of country borders so there is free travel everywhere in the world. Everyone agrees that it is wrong to not accept people or give them jobs because of the colour of their skin, but why is it acceptable to discriminate because of the colour of his passport?
Secondly I would get rid of governments. There should be direct democracy. That means there should be a referendum in every single issue and people locally should be able to make decisions based on their own needs.
Thirdly, we need cars that can get anyone to anywhere in a very short time. Self driving cars that can fly faster than the speed of light!
NOW THAT YOU HAVE BECOME A LOCAL COUNCILLOR, CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT IT?
I am representing about 10,000 people so when I speak, I am speaking for so many people, which is a great responsibility. On the other hand, I am able to help so many people at the same time, on an individual level as well as community levels. I have made several positive changes to date, with traffic, health and safety, roads, building regulations, marriage regulations, and more.
I have just managed to organise courses in ESOL with over a hundred participants, specially designed to meet the needs of the local community, and am in the middle of sorting out the crossing on Leicester Road for Shabbos. There is a huge variety of things in and out of the community, lots of potholes, sinkholes, road closures; I have helped lots of people and upset many officers – it’s fun and games!
WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE MISSION?
The reason I ran is because of the rubbish-collection situation, but that is somewhat long term. A three-weekly collection with a small allowance is not practical for the community. That’s why so many people have to pay for private collections. The council claim it’s due to environmental issues, but it’s just an excuse. It’s all about the money. Meanwhile my ultimate goal is for people to be able to feel represented, and if people feel that way then I will know I have done what I wanted.