Meet Our Associates #18 – Luke Henning, Thomas St John

12 October 2022

This week we’re joined for our Meet Our Associates’ conversation by Luke Henning, Business Manager at Thomas St John.

Thomas St John is the leading international accounting firm for artists, entertainers and sportspeople. Solving complex problems, managing money with absolute integrity, and giving their clients real clarity and control.

Firstly, could you please tell us a bit about Thomas St John, what you do and how you work with music managers and artists?

TSJ is has been offering business management services for just over 15 years, specialising in the music sector and broader entertainment industry.  We provide all the standard tax and accountancy services such as bookkeeping, preparation of financial statement and tax returns.  On top of this, we offer full business management services supporting our clients to manage all their commercial affairs. We work with managers and artists from those early on in their careers to global acts, so there isn’t much our teams haven’t dealt with before.

From day 1 TSJ has aimed to differentiate through our ability to work internationally and our depth of specialist expertise. We have built an exceptional team, this allows us to address the more complex challenges we see in accounting, taxation, deal advisory and royalties. We are ideally placed to support managers and their rosters through international transition, complexity, and mobility

In addition to London, we have offices in the US, Netherlands, and Sweden, and our teams are always working together internationally for our clients on matters ranging from concierge services such as visa assistance and property management through to estate and tax planning.

 

As business managers who work internationally with a leading team of accountants, lawyers and tax professionals, tell us a bit more about your services and the importance you play in the music industry?

As a Business Manager, I specialise in progressing careers and developing companies through working closely with artists, their management, and a wider network of lawyers, financial advisors, and other stakeholders.

With touring making a huge comeback over the past twelve months, it has been great to get back to work closely with managers and artists ahead of tours, providing support in areas such as budgets and cash management, withholding tax mitigation, assessing the need for foreign returns and ensuring artists don’t fall foul of residency rules. We want to take all the friction out of the tour so the artists, managers and other creatives can focus on delivering the best experience to their audiences.

Business management covers such a variety of services, we can just cover the basics of accountancy, or we can get involved in artists’ day-to-day needs such as arranging their credit cards, personal insurances, mortgages, or even showing how they can make their new car tax efficient.  It’s our aim to remove obstacles for clients and offer advice in our areas of expertise.

 

What has Thomas St John been working on recently?

Royalties is back in pole position as the largest revenue stream in the music industry so we’ve been focusing on growing our royalties team, while ensuring it remains best in class.  We’re not complacent and connections between royalties and tech, changes in legislation and new ways to exploit music means there’s a constantly evolving need to evolve the services we provide.  Over the last 36 months we’ve put a lot of time and energy into developing the services we provide in relation to understanding, managing and maximising the value of the intellectual property created by our clients.

An example of this is our recent partnership with the data science and engineering team at a world-renowned university where we’ve been developing ways to leverage the swathes of data coming from royalties for the benefit of our clients and to bring transparency to a data dense but data rich environment.

As NFTs, Web 3.0 and decentralized finance start to gain traction in the industry, we have set up an internal digital asset group to develop strategies in and around these exciting areas of opportunity. We need to ensure that we have the right expertise to support our clients through their digital journey. We want to ensure we can identify valuable opportunities and connections and that, both internally and through partnerships, we’re able to bring the skills together to succeed.

Outside of intellectual property, after seeing an increase in demand over the course of the pandemic for property management assistance we have developed services ranging from simple assistance with mortgage applications through to sourcing more complex financing, portfolio management and disposal management. We assist directly on projects ranging from smaller personal residences through to international purchases and billion-dollar developments.  Our network and connections mean that we’re yet to come across a property challenge or opportunity that we couldn’t solve or seize.

 

What are your plans for the rest of 2022?

Continued growth has dictated that I expand my team, so I’m currently working to get our ambitious new team members settled in. There are so many talented young accountants out there and it’s a privilege to help develop the next generation of business managers.

As a team it’s super important to reflect right now on the conversations with clients at the beginning of the year about goals and requirements and to ensure that we’ve supported our clients in meeting them.

Of course, we must do the accounts and the tax but there’s so much more to the relationship.

We’ve also now got plenty of artists travelling around the world to perform in front of sell-out crowds and outside of everything else, that’s sure to keep us busy enough!

 

When is the right time for an artist or manager to start working with a business management firm such as Thomas St John?

We have artists and management companies at every stage of their development.  From new up-and-coming acts to established, world-renowned acts so there’s never a wrong time.

Business management is a wider service than just helping musicians file their accounts on time, we work with them on all aspects of their life, running day-to-day operations as simple as bank payments and looking after their funds, to company structures and tax planning.

The full service is not for everyone straight away, some people prefer to keep everything as simple as possible at first which is almost always the best course of action.  We tailor our services and involvement to client’s needs at the beginning of their career and throughout.

International tax is a major area for artists that needs to be dealt with carefully by specialists.  Artists want to perform around the world and ensuring that taxes are mitigated is a key part of our services.

A number of our artists have made international moves during their time with us, and having offices in the US, Netherlands, and Sweden, together with a wider international network of trusted advisors, allows TSJ to continue our relationship with these clients when they leave or come to the UK, and vital tax planning can take place well in advance of any move.

 

What new music releases are you currently enjoying?

While not a new release, Sam Fender’s Seventeen Going Under has been one of the best albums of the last year.  I’ve been listening to Tom Misch on repeat, George Ezra’s new album is a good listen, and I recently started listening to Vistas.

 

What was the last gig you went to?

Amaarae at Koko a few months ago and Sam Fender at Ally Pally.  Very different gigs but it was so good being back in the live scene.

 

Is there anything you would like to say to managers who are interested in finding out more about Thomas St John?

I’m always happy to talk to managers and artists so please get in contact.  If you’re just starting out or have years of experience, I’d love to talk to you.

Email: LukeHenning@thomasstjohn.com

Phone: +44(0)203 388 0288

 

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