Founded in 1985, Spence Clarke celebrates 30 years in business in Marbella – advising companies and private clients in tax, accounting, legal, real estate, inheritance and business matters, and doing it with panache.

Spence Clarke is a prestigious firm of Chartered Accountants that has been providing a highly professional service to private and corporate clients in the Marbella area and well beyond for the past 30 years, and during that time has built up a reputation for quality service, technical expertise and good practice.

However, it would be wrong to assume that this makes Alistair Spence, Susan Clarke, Miguel Ángel Blanco and their team stuffy suits devoid of humour or passion. Indeed, they are passionate people who enjoy their work, are fascinated by the twists and turns of commercial and fiscal legislature, and find satisfaction in advising their clients in how best to navigate the waters of officialdom.

In this they prove that being professional and at the top of your game in the financial field does not preclude you from also being a service-minded people’s person. “In most cases our relationship with our clients is a longstanding one in which we take it upon ourselves to look after their interests and give them the best possible advice,” says Susan, who has been running Spence Clarke with her husband since 1991.

“I think it is this ability to offer expert knowledge while also being personable that breaks down the barriers around our profession and allows us to communicate with our clients in a normal way.” In a sector that is still shrouded in technocratic mists, this is one of the foundations of Spence Clarke’s longevity and success.

A Marbella Reference

Over the years the firm has been a mainstay in Marbella, becoming a reference in the field of accountancy, legal and fiscal services. “We have seen many changes during our time here,” says Alistair, “and have had to process a great many changes in Spanish tax law, corporation structures and the legal framework, often providing a bridge between the way things are done here and what people are used to in Northern European countries.”

Explaining the system and the options available to homebuyers, foreign residents and those wishing to do business here or inheriting assets in Spain is a large part of the job, as it is from this understanding onwards that people can make informed decisions and take the best route available to them.

“Most of us as expats have at some time or another complained about the Spanish system, but when you look at it closely and begin to appreciate how the judicial, political and commercial structures of Spain have come into being over centuries, you acquire a greater understanding of how things work.

Once you stop resisting the system and work with it, you can at times be surprised how well it can function – at other times quite frankly not – but invariably you will be able to obtain better results.” Though trained within the British system, Alistair and Susan have become specialists in the Spanish tax, accounting and legal systems, adding to their own knowledge with the expertise of experienced professionals like Miguel.

“This understanding of both the British and Spanish systems allows us to bridge the gap between the two traditions,” says Miguel, “and this is of great value when we advise British clients. “Not only can we explain how best to work within the Spanish framework, but we can also relate it to people’s British points of reference.”

Having just come through a recession, the firm is in good health, just as it was when it emerged from the post-87 crash. “People are always in need of good fiscal advice, and if you can save them time, trouble and of course money while working within the system then you have the basis for a sound accountancy practice,” adds Susan.

Thanks to the prolific rate of new laws and amendments the Spence Clarke team is kept busy, but as Alistair points out, while the changes are many and more than a few Spanish laws and regulations appear not to make much sense, they are technically well put together and do not form a legislative patchwork.

“Each law is actually remade,” says Alistair, who leads a team that prides itself on staying fully up-to-date in terms of knowledge and interpretation. “We use this knowledge to advise people effectively, and while we want them to live, work and invest in Spain we are ultimately bound to look after their interests first.

If this means referring them to a more beneficial tax system in a country like Portugal we do it, though we are very pleased when we can wholeheartedly encourage investors to commit to a project here or bring production back to factories in Northern Spain, as we have done in the recent past.”

A long-term commitment to providing a professional but also personal service in Marbella has seen Alistair and Susan build up a team that has collectively handled hundreds of millions of euros worth of private and corporate funds. Much of the solidity and consistency of service and integrity involved in this comes from working with a tried and trusted team, many of whom have been with the company for ten years or more.

“Having evolved together over so many years makes us more than a group of colleagues,” says Susan, “and it allows truly impressive expertise to be built up within the firm, occasionally added to with new skill sets and knowledge as we grow and evolve.” Having reached the 30-year landmark, Spence Clarke looks forward to building further upon its enviable reputation for professional expertise with a human touch.

Words Michel Cruz Photography Kevin Horn

C/ Jacinto Benavente, 32, Marbella. Tel: 952 822 943.