Meet the tax team: Sarah Boyes - PKF Francis Clark
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Meet the tax team: Sarah Boyes

Engineer turned tax advisor Sarah Boyes is a senior manager in our Taunton office.

Sarah Boyes - Headshot with grey background

Why did you decide to specialise in tax?

I worked in industry for nearly 20 years and loved being an engineer, but when my role was made redundant it prompted me to think about how else I could use my skills and experience.

After doing a couple of other jobs, in 2014 I started working with a small company doing R&D tax credit claims. I then moved to a larger firm in Birmingham before joining PKF Francis Clark. My engineering background is definitely helpful when I’m visiting clients to evaluate their R&D activity. 

What attracted you to PKF Francis Clark?

I had always lived and worked in the Midlands, but when the opportunity to relocate to the South West came up in 2018, I jumped at it. Apart from visiting my brother in Cornwall, I didn’t know the region or anyone here, but I thought I thought I had nothing to lose and I’m pleased to say it’s all worked out.

You have to take risks in life, and I honestly haven’t looked back. Friends who come to visit can see why I love living here.

What I like about working at PKF Francis Clark is being part of a big firm that feels like a big family. Everyone is professional and gets their work done, but the atmosphere isn’t stuffy or corporate. I work with colleagues across all our offices and everyone is friendly, so I feel like I can be myself here.

I enjoy building long term relationships with clients, and the variety of people I work with means I’m learning about all sorts of industries.

What do you do? 

I deal with R&D tax credit claims from start to finish, which I expected to be quiet during the pandemic but in fact the last 18 months have been incredibly busy.

I bang the drum for R&D and like to get people thinking about it. Colleagues often come to me about their clients, so I’ll have a chat with the client about what they are doing and whether they might be missing out on R&D tax credits. Having an engineering background helps me to ask the right questions.

Often, I’ll visit the business to assess what R&D they are doing and how much a claim might be worth. If they decide it’s worth taking forwards, I’ll collect technical and financial information to produce a report for my colleagues who prepare tax computations.

Claims can be worth anything from £2,000 – which is a lot to a small company – to over £100,000 on a qualifying expenditure of millions.

What sort of clients do you work with?

As well as the traditional manufacturing businesses people automatically think of when you mention R&D, I work with a lot of software and tech companies, electricians, construction firms, dairies and food and drink businesses of different sizes.

I have my class 1 HGV licence, which not many tax advisors can say.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy building long term relationships with clients, and the variety of people I work with means I’m learning about all sorts of industries. There isn’t a typical day, which is what I love about it. In some ways I miss engineering – being around machines and the smell of oil – but I still get that buzz with the job I do.

I love seeing the lightbulb moment when I’m talking to clients and they realise all the things they do that could qualify as R&D. At the end of the day, I help people get money back, which is satisfying and means clients are often very appreciative.

And outside work?

I’m definitely a petrolhead. As well as being a member of the Mazda MX5 owners’ club, I have my class 1 HGV licence, which not many tax advisors can say.

Aside from that, I’m a doting dog owner and enjoy reading, running and music.

What’s your ambition?

I was delighted to be promoted to senior manager recently, and I’d like to continue to progress within the firm over the coming years.

Read more:

Meet the tax team: Matt Chester

Find out more about our tax advisory team: Tax advice for businesses

For more information about what it’s like to work at PKF Francis Clark, visit our careers website.

FEATURING: Sarah Boyes
After graduating from Staffordshire University with an Honours degree in Mechanical Engineering Sarah spent a number of years in industry. Starting out as a manufacturing… read more
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