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Companies require specialist financial advice because of their importance to their staff and because of the corporate and tax laws which affect them.

Keyperson insurance

Directors and employees with highly specialist skills or knowledge are key employees of the companies they work for. To lose one through an unforeseen departure can be damaging to the business. That is why taking out a keyperson insurance to protect the company is a wise move.

Keyperson insurances can provide several benefits. These can include:

• Paying the costs of a temporary replacement

• Meeting the costs of recruiting a permanent replacement

• Covering of the cost of death or incapacity of a key member of staff.

The full scope of cover will depend on the type of policy purchased but companies ignore the risks of losing key staff at their peril. Shareholders, bank managers, suppliers and customers may not be so laid back.

Share protection through life assurance

Directors' or partners' share agreements may provide for the remaining directors to purchase the shares of other shareholding directors should they die. However there is a risk that the remaining directors may not have sufficient funds to hand when a fellow director passes away unexpectedly.

One way round this is to take out life cover as a source of funding.

To arrange such cover requires the understanding and agreement of all concerned. It will also require some careful figure work to determine how much cover is required. But it will be a comfort to all directors or partners of a business to know that their own or a colleagues death will leave the other directors with sufficient support to carry out the terms of their shareholders' agreement.

Pensions & raising capital

Directors may prefer to establish a separate pension plan from that of their employees. The reasons for this are that the term of their employment may be a fixed number of years, their tax position may be more complicated than other employees, or they may prefer to set up a form of self administered scheme more suitable to their circumstances.

Directors and partners may also wish to leverage their company pension scheme at some stage to raise funding for the business. This may be a more a tax and cost efficient way of funding the acquisition of commercial property.

In these circumstances sound pension advice will be valuable.

Directors and staff benefits

Recruiting, motivating and retaining able staff is a key preoccupation of many businesses. Getting the rewards mix right is an important ingredient in successfully managing such staff. Remuneration menus made up of pensions, life insurance, tax efficient bonuses and benefits are common in well-managed businesses. But they require careful planning and selection depending on the type of business and the type of staff who are involved. What motivates and retains staff at an Internet start up business or a bioscience research operation may require a different balance than at a manufacturing business with a substantial production line workforce.

If staff are the keys to successful businesses then well founded and managed reward strategies are vital. Taking the right advice early on means that the right moves can be made without having to make them as the business goes along. The result should be contented and efficient staff who are confident that they are getting the best deal for their time and their labour.