Jupiter’s Sarah Filbee ‘hooked’ on a career in tax

Fair Tax Leaders features senior professionals from across the Fair Tax Mark accredited business community.

Here Sarah Filbee, head of tax at Jupiter Asset Management, talks about changing attitudes towards responsible tax and how a summer internship led her to where she is today. 

In 2022 Jupiter became the first global fund manager to secure the Fair Tax Mark, publishing a detailed country-by-country breakdown of their financial performance including taxes paid in each jurisdiction, and a comprehensive tax strategy.

Tell us about your professional journey, Sarah.

While in my second year at university, a very long time ago, I spotted a leaflet advertising summer internship roles in London at Coopers & Lybrand the accountancy firm. This sounded like a brilliant alternative to my previous summer working at the Tesco checkouts in Dover, so I think I must have written a very compelling covering letter. The summer placements were in the Tax teams, a graduate job offer followed and I found myself a career. From the outset, I really liked how tax drew on my expertise in both finance and law, and I’ve been hooked ever since!

I spent much of my early career post-qualification at Lehman Brothers in a variety of tax roles, chiefly as Head of European VAT, employment and investment management taxes. This enabled me to jump into asset management at the right time (2008) because you need a broad view of all taxes in this sector. I enjoy the breadth of the Head of Tax role in asset management because I am responsible for the whole life story of taxes from ensuring optimal treaty withholding tax rates at the investment desk, through the corporate group’s tax position and taxes paid by our investors.

Following a career break with my three small children, I interviewed for a maternity cover role at Jupiter, which I enjoyed considerably. Jupiter is, for me, the perfect-sized company (around 500 employees) to ensure my work is varied and interesting. I really get the opportunity to work in the ‘weeds’ but also provide strategic direction. I enjoyed working here so much I was lucky to be able to convince them they needed me permanently and here I am nearly 12 years later.

How has the role of the tax or finance team changed in this time? 

The contrast of working in tax in those early days at an investment bank in the early 00s to asset management in the 20s is substantial. The financial crash of 2008 transformed tax conduct in regulated firms beyond recognition driven by a desire to exhibit more responsible conduct and earn back stakeholder trust.

The change in attitudes has also coincided with changes in tax regulation. The introduction of the UK Group Tax Strategy obligation in 2016 for all large firms has led to greater tax transparency in the UK, with some firms going well beyond the required minimum to demonstrate their integrity. I am proud to say I work for a firm, Jupiter, where earning and maintaining stakeholder trust, whether it is in tax affairs, governance or regulatory integrity, form part of the essence of our brand.



What drives Jupiter to pursue responsible tax conduct and gain the Fair Tax Mark?  

The Jupiter board sets a Group tax strategy, which underpins responsible tax conduct. It is the core of our approach to all tax matters and has been so for some time. The Fair Tax Mark illustrates this externally in a really elegant way.

What would your advice be to other professionals who are thinking of applying for the Fair Tax Mark?  

It is a straightforward process that signals to your stakeholders you are an organisation that recognises the importance of responsible tax conduct. It is a clear signal to your stakeholders that you can be trusted.

What are your thoughts on the future of fair tax and corporate transparency? 

With BEPS and EU Public Country-by-Country Reporting coming into play, many companies are now going to be facing the obligatory need for tax transparency reporting on a wider scale.

I believe the majority of companies, especially those that are listed and/or regulated, are already pursuing responsible tax conduct. But they may have avoided voluntary disclosures until now for a number of reasons, such as resource constraints or reluctance to confuse readers with tax data. The BEPS agenda is moving the dial on this at a faster rate now and wider transparency will be the natural outcome, which is really positive for the asset management industry.

What one word or phrase would your team use to describe you?

An experienced tax operator with a strong moral compass who believes a good tax team is one that is well supported and inclusive.


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