Client Q&A: Felix Finkernagel of Finkernagel Ross

Although we work with clients from different sectors, we specialise in helping architects benefit from R&D tax relief. In fact, over 60% of our clients work in architecture, with a further 15% working in related fields such as engineering.

To help you get a better idea of what it’s like to work with Hamilton Blake Consulting, we chatted to one of our recent clients: Felix Finkernagel, director of architect firm Finkernagel Ross. We helped Felix’s firm make several successful R&D tax relief claims earlier this year, achieving them a significant tax rebate.
Over to you, Felix…

What made you choose Hamilton Blake Consulting?

When we first heard about the R&D tax relief scheme, we were incredulous. It sounded too good to be true, and our accountant certainly wasn’t sure about it! However, after speaking to a few other architect firms, we were convinced and decided to explore the scheme a little more seriously.

In the process of choosing an R&D tax adviser, we spoke with a couple of other consultancies. What set Hamilton Blake Consulting apart from its competitors was their approachable but competent manner. We were especially won over by Simon, one of the partners.

The fact that Hamilton Blake Consulting is a relatively small team was also appealing. As a small business ourselves, we felt that Hamilton Blake would better understand where we were coming from than some of the larger firms. It was reassuring to know that we’d be working partner to partner, not partner to intern.

Speaking to other Hamilton Blake Consulting clients sealed the deal. They provided great references and spoke highly of the team’s professionalism and enthusiasm.


Can you tell me about some of the projects you claimed R&D relief on?

We completed some pro bono work for a local primary school, converting a decommissioned London bus into a library. The school desperately needed more space for the children but wasn’t particularly well-funded.

While we were happy to help, this was a time-consuming project. We had to understand the structure of the bus, as well as consider the usual details, technicalities, and logistics. The R&D tax relief helped sooth the pain of over-delivering on a project that wouldn’t be bringing in any money for the firm. It felt like good karma!

Another eligible project was a bespoke triple-height bookcase that we designed, constructed, and installed. Again, this was a lovely but time-consuming project, that would have lost us money without the R&D tax relief.


How did you find the process of working with Hamilton Blake Consulting?

The team were clear and upfront about the process, which was reassuring.

Our first action was to brainstorm and create a list of projects that we thought might be relevant for R&D tax relief. Simon and the team encouraged us to think big, as they did the work figuring out whether the projects were eligible or not. The first time you claim R&D tax relief, this step is the most difficult bit. You have to think back over projects from the last two years. Our future claims will be painless, as we know what we’re looking for now and will claim annually.

When we’d created our list, we had a 2-3 hour Zoom call with Hamilton Blake Consulting. Here, we spoke in more detail about some of the projects on our list. When we knew which projects were eligible for R&D tax relief, I had to do a little big of digging in our financial records to locate things like timesheets. We then sent all this information over to Hamilton Blake, who wrote up the report and case studies, and submitted them to HMRC.

We were impressed with the speed of the process. We signed on with Hamilton Blake Consulting in May, and the team worked on our report through June and July. Once submitted, the tax rebate was in our bank account within a week.


Did anything surprise you about the process?

Since we were so incredulous to start with, we were pleasantly surprised with the results. Hamilton Blake also took the time to reassure us throughout the process, as we really weren’t sure about it. That was a positive touch.


What impact did the tax relief have on your business?

When we started exploring R&D tax relief, we thought it would be a nice bonus or a helpful pick-me-up. However, in the light of COVID-19, it has been a lifesaver for our business. The R&D relief payment allowed us to retain all our staff and make it through the worst of the crisis. Thankfully, things are turning around now, but we would have been in a hugely different position without that money.


Do you have any words of advice for other architecture firms who may be unsure if they qualify for R&D tax relief?

I would advise other architects to give up just an hour of their time to chat to Simon, or a member of the Hamilton Blake Consulting team. Put your preconceptions aside, and don’t be too critical! So much of the work architects do is applicable to the scheme, even if it just feels like your everyday projects. However, all architects will know that as a breed we tend to spend far too much time on our work, but we often can’t pass these costs onto our clients. The R&D tax relief scheme helps lessen the pain!


Sum up Hamilton Blake Consulting in three words!

Competent, friendly, proactive.

Thank you, Felix.

Get in contact with us to see how we can help you apply for your R&D Tax Credits