Manhattan's got nothing on Cumbria!

WHEN a top job in Manhattan came up for a cohort of leading tax experts at one of the UK’s big four accountancy firms, Becky Bowness was always going to throw her hat in the ring.

Just one problem. Only one, out of dozens of eager and experienced applicants at PwC, was going to land the dream post.

No problem for Becky. She got the job, and with it a year-long secondment to New York advising the PwC US firm on UK tax.

Already an expert in UK corporate and international tax after being headhunted by PwC to work in their Newcastle office, Becky’s time in America took her expertise to another level.

“It was an amazing experience. It was unbelievably beneficial to me both personally and professionally. I learned a huge amount," said Becky.

“I continued to develop my UK tax expertise being asked to advise on absolutely all aspects of UK tax and at the same time I was able to build on my international and US specific experience.”

So much so, that when she returned to the UK in 2013, PwC moved her straight to its London offices at Embankment, Westminster.

With Becky having spent so much time working on complex corporate tax projects, there were more opportunities for her to build on that experience with the London-based team.

Becky was soon working with large corporate clients, including those in the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250, as well as similar sized corporations across the globe.

Between 2013-2015, she also increasingly worked on transactional projects including corporate carve out and reorganisations, supporting on a reorganisation for one of the largest privately-owned businesses - who were in a distressed debt situation - as well as assisting with acquisitions and disposals.

This led Becky to change teams in London and move into PwC’s Private Equity and M&A Tax team.

London Calling: Becky spent time working in the capital

Working with large private equity businesses, such as CVC, and Apollo, she further developed her broader UK and international tax technical skills.

The brilliant news for businesses which have bases in Cumbria is that Becky has recently brought all that global expertise right here, to work with the county's businesses and organisations.

Not only that. But being born and bred in Cumbria, and starting her financial career here, Becky, 38, also has first-hand experience of the business landscape across the county.

From the age of 18 until her mid 20s Becky worked and trained with a local accountancy firm based in Carlisle, until she was headhunted by PwC to work with their corporate tax team in Newcastle, where she worked with well-known Carlisle-based businesses such as Story Construction and System Group.

She also gained UK and international expertise when she moved to PwC in Newcastle, with clients such as FTSE 100 group The Sage Group PLC, the UK's second largest technology company, and major construction services business VolkerWessels, based in Rotterdam, with offices in the Netherlands, UK, Germany, USA and Canada.

It all means business and organisations in Cumbria should be grateful to Paul Dickson, chief executive and managing partner of Armstrong Watson, and to Becky’s fiancé John Cowen, a sales manager at Pioneer Foods, for giving her the best possible professional and personal reasons for returning ‘home’.

Also good news for businesses and organisations in Cumbria is that Becky is fully focused on further developing her career, and her experience and expertise, right here and she clearly sees the potential to do that, working with clients with bases in the county.

“Cumbria has some incredible businesses. People really, really underestimate Cumbria. I see this as a great opportunity to show businesses here that they have absolutely no need to go to firms in places like Manchester or Newcastle. The expertise is right here on their doorstep.

“Those who are dealing with UK corporate and international tax issues may, for a long time, have automatically thought that they need to be going to a firm in a big city for financial advice. But that just isn’t the case.

Back in Cumbria: Becky with fiancé John and their dog Millie

“I have only been back in Cumbria for a few weeks working with Armstrong Watson and I am already helping businesses with a huge variety of tax matters from managing their corporate tax compliance through navigating areas such as CIS and IR35 all the way to setting up operations in Switzerland and New York.

“There are amazing opportunities if businesses work with professional services companies in Cumbria. The expertise, experience, and best advice, is right here on their doorstep.”

*A Professional Services Association for Cumbria is being formed to promote the expertise, experience and knowledge which exists in the sector across Cumbria to the county’s businesses and organisations.

To find out more, or how your business can get involved, contact Jonathan Lee on 07444 022038 or email