* Accountancy firm Burgis & Bullock has appointed a new private client tax partner as part of expansion plans.

Morag Matthews will be charged with driving forward the provision of personal tax and inheritance tax planning advice for high net worth individuals as well as trusts and estates.

She will also work closely with the firm’s Chapel Court Wealth Planning division which specialises in the provision of integrated tax and financial planning advice.

Ms Matthews previously had a partner role in the London and Guildford offices at Moore Stephens before her move to Burgis & Bullock.

Wende Hubbard, the firm’s managing partner, said; “Morag will bring an added dimension to the firm’s tax offering which is provided by a dedicated team of professionals under the guidance of Simon Littlejohns our corporate tax partner and head of tax.

“The appointment recognises that personal tax clients are increasingly in need of high quality tax planning advice. This is especially so given the increasing tax burden and complexity of the tax code.”

Ms Matthews added: “I am looking forward to the challenge of building on the excellent work which has been done to date in securing a solid base of personal tax clients within the firm.

“There are many opportunities to provide added value planning advice to our clients on all personal tax matters especially the more complex areas of inheritance tax and capital gains tax.

“Working with the existing partner group and the firm’s wide range of professional contacts, I hope to exploit the tremendous potential both within and outside the firm.”

* Accountant lands national role

A senior Midland accountant is the new head of an association celebrating two major landmarks.

Suk Aulak, partner and head of office at Chantrey Vellacott DFK in Birmingham on Calthorpe Road, has been appointed chairman of DFK UK & Ireland.

The association, which was founded 15 years ago, now has 17 member firms across 31 offices stretching from Devon to Scotland and from Norfolk to Wales, as well as Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Isle of Man and The Channel Islands.

Membership allows firms to access expertise across the UK and Ireland and, through its umbrella organisation DFK International, has associate firms in more than 80 countries. DFK International, formed in 1962, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in Paris next year along with all member firms from DFK UK & Ireland.

Mr Aulak was welcomed as chairman when the association held its largest ever conference and announced that member firms have hit the combined fee milestone of £75 million.

He said: “We are all operating in an increasingly global world and we have clients who operate right across the UK and internationally.

“The placing of exports as a central pillar to recovery by the Government, also means we have clients considering working abroad who have never done so before.

“As a result they rightly expect us to have a similar reach and to have expertise in those different markets.

“National and international spread and expertise are also a powerful marketing tool when trying to win new business.

“That would be almost impossible without membership of a wider group, which is what DFK brings us all.”

Mark Lamb, who is DFK vice-president for EMEA, said: “The association will be in good hands with Suk and I wish him all the best as he looks to achieve DFK UK & Ireland’s most important goal - continuing to work together over the forthcoming years, increasing our membership and building new collaborative partnerships.”

* New fund launched

Mercia Fund Management (MFM) has launched the Mercia Growth EIS Fund for tax efficient investment in its existing and future technology portfolio, which spans medical technology, clean technology and electronics, telecoms and software.

The Mercia Growth EIS Fund is open to investors with a minimum of £25,000 to invest and who are looking to enhance their investment portfolio with high growth technology businesses.

The MFM portfolio focuses on high growth scalable businesses which have modest capital needs and are four years away The fund has invested in the likes of Allinea, Intelligent Orthopaedics, Warwick Audio, LM Technologies and Concurrent Thinking.

To boost its portfolio, MFM is also expanding its geographical footprint by actively seeking new investable companies outside the Midlands region, where it originally established its investment track record in 2007.

Dr Mark Payton, managing director of MFM said: “Mercia Growth EIS Fund is perfectly positioned to help high earners seeking tax efficient investments in the technology sector. We see our EIS Fund building on the successes of Mercia Funds one and two which have collectively invested in excess of £9 million and leveraged additional funding of circa £50 million in 34 businesses to date.

“We were delighted by the response at our launch event in Oxford earlier this month and are confident that our experience and deal flow will help us to raise the £6 million to £10 million we are targeting.”

The Mercia Growth EIS Fund closes on April 5, 2012, but may close sooner if the investment target is reached.

* Partner profits up despite sales fall at Grant Thornton

Financial adviser Grant Thornton UK has revealed a small fall in revenue for the past year – but saw the level of profit per partner rise.

The professional services firm, which has an office in Birmingham, saw sales drop to £377 million, down £2.7 million on last year.

While pre-tax profits fell from £77.6 million to £75.2 million for the financial year ended June 30, the group saw average profit per partner increased to £342,000 from £321,000 last year.

Chief executive Scott Barnes said that the firm’s strategy remains focused on dynamic large private and smaller listed companies although there may be opportunities in the large listed market if European Commission proposals on audit market reform become law.

He said despite the difficult economic conditions, revenues were just 0.7 per cent below last year’s results with the reduction in public sector advisory work largely responsible.

He said: “Given the continuing difficult economic conditions, Grant Thornton’s performance has been very strong. We knew it was going to be a tough period and it is testament to our core strategy and the strength of the partnership that we have come in ahead of expectations.”

Over the year, assurance revenues grew 2.8 per cent to £122.3 million while taxation services contracted 1.4 per cent to £91.7 million.

Overall revenues within the advisory practice were £150 million, with 17.7 per cent growth in forensic and investigation services to £17.7 million and 1.9 per cent growth in recovery and reorganisation to £97.1 million.

Corporate finance revenue dropped £5.7 million to £35.2 million due to reduced activity within the firm’s government, infrastructure and advisory business following government spending cuts.

Dave Munton, office managing partner at Grant Thornton in Birmingham, said: “The Birmingham office has won several major audit clients recently, including Birmingham Science Park Aston, Anthony Collins Solicitors and Rhead Group.”

* Call to ‘invest in the best’

Mazars’ Midland managing partner David Chapman has issued a rallying call to the region’s leading investors to be at the front of the queue to back Birmingham-bred business talent.

International accountancy firm Mazars, with law firm Cobbetts, is backing the 13 week Oxygen Accelerator programme which is currently running in the Entrepreneurs for the Future business incubator unit at Birmingham Science Park Aston.

The project is a global competition that has attracted some of the best business start-up ideas in the world to compete for a few, select places.

Staff from Mazars and Cobbetts are providing financial and legal mentoring respectively as well as hosting five professional training days where topics such as structuring growth finance, intellectual property and business planning are explained to the early stage management teams.

* Bank appoints new local managers

Santander Business Banking is recruiting an additional 250 local business managers and doubling its team of telephone business advisers to 200, as it looks to increase its support for smaller businesses.

The local business managers will be based in branches across the country to provide face-to-face and telephone support to business customers with an annual turnover of up to £250,000.

They will work with businesses to provide advice on business plans and forecasts, and will be able to direct businesses to additional advice and support available in the local area where necessary.

The move comes as part of a re-launch of the products and services available to smaller businesses. This follows the restructure of the business to merge Santander’s Corporate, Commercial and Business Banking divisions. The new division is headed up by Steve Pateman.