Keep It In The Family

Bath accountants and business advisers Richardson Swift have considerable experience helping family firms like Three Abbey Green plan for a successful succession.

The four-star guest house in central Bath, which was opened in 2005 by Sue Wright and Derek Merkl, has just earned a prestigious VisitEngland ROSE award in recognition of the excellent service it provides.

The family-run establishment is one of just 100 hospitality businesses in England - and the only guest house in Bath - to have received the coveted accolade. Their achievement is all the more remarkable given that it happened while Richardson Swift were helping Derek and Sue transfer the business to their daughter, Nici, and son-in-law Alan.

Richardson Swift helped the family plan for a successful succession and ensured they had the right business structure in place to pass on the guest house in the most tax efficient way.

“Previously Sue and I were the sole owners of the guest house but we wanted our daughter and her husband to take over the business when we retired,” said Derek.

“None of us has a financial background or knowledge but we needed to ensure that we could hand over the business in an efficient and legal manner to Nici. Richardson Swift helped us do this by changing the structure of the business so that Nici and Alan could become equal partners in the guest house and have the same rights as us. It meant they were able to have a share in the business from us and eventually it will become entirely theirs.”

Now that they have the right business structure in place, Derek and Sue have been able to take a step back. This has allowed their daughter and her husband to take on more responsibility, although Sue still does relief work to help out from time-to-time.

Whether it’s setting up a limited liability partnership or a limited company, Richardson Swift has great experience of how tax works for different business structures.

“As well as specialist tax and succession advice, Richardson Swift also provides us with all our bookkeeping and monthly management accounts which are critical for us,” added Derek. “They show us where we are with regard to profitability on a monthly basis and are key to our ability to develop the business. It allows us to respond to any market issues and do whatever we need to do to ensure our bookings remain strong.”

Derek continued: “Since Sue and I started the business we have used several different accountancy firms, but Richardson Swift have been by far the most efficient and proactive.

The financial advice that we received from them has been crucial to the success of our business and we consider it to have been an essential investment.”

Sue added: “Richardson Swift really do go the extra mile and we have always been really well looked after by them. We certainly don’t feel like a small fish in a big pond, which had been a major concern for me before we joined the firm. We can phone them anytime for advice and they will come and see us at our business or home, which is really important to us. We feel really confident that the advice we receive from Richardson Swift is the very best available.”

Derek Swift, founding director of Richardson Swift, said: “We are delighted that Three Abbey Green have obtained this prestigious award. It’s a remarkable achievement when you consider that this happened while we were helping Sue and Derek transfer the management of the business to their daughter.”

He added: “We are not just about the numbers here at Richardson Swift; we can also advise family firms on their growth strategies and help them plan for a successful succession.

We believe in offering tailored business solutions that meet the individual needs of our clients rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach.”

For more information about the accountancy and business growth services provided by Richardson Swift please phone 01225 325580 or visit

To find out more about Three Abbey Green visit or phone 01225 428558.