Chris Blackhurst: Why I'm sure Sir Richard Branson won't find life too taxing on his Caribbean island

Midweek View: He's so rich he can pay whatever Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs throws at him

T he decision of Sir Richard Branson to base himself on Necker, his Caribbean island, should come as no surprise to those who have followed the Virgin tycoon's career closely.

He says he's relocating for lifestyle reasons and denies the fact that a dramatically reduced tax bill could also be a factor. I want to accept Sir Richard's explanation. He's always been something of an ambassador for these shores, liking to drape himself in the Union Jack, and it would be a pity if pure cash was the lure overseas.

It's definitely the case as well that he's so rich that tax should not concern him – he can afford to pay whatever Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs throws at him.

So, in that sense, he may be right: the desire to become a tax exile on Necker (pictured) is not why he is doing it. I am, though, reminded that Sir Richard can be calculating where lowering his tax liability is concerned. Famously, or infamously, in 1971 he was fined £20,000 and forced to pay £40,000 in taxes – £1m in today's money – for a tax scam with his original record shop, Virgin Records.

It was a brush with the law and it taught him a lesson: since then he's always ensured there would be no repeat. But that's not to say he's not calculating and deliberate where tax is concerned. I vividly recall being at another newspaper and investigating the ease with which wealthy Britons were able to move their financial arrangements offshore – perfectly legally, it must be said.

One of our sources produced a ream of documentation relating to trusts held in the Channel Islands and all named after Wimbledon tennis stars. They belonged to Sir Richard and his relatives. That was a long time ago and Sir Richard's finances are likely to have been reorganised since. Nevertheless, it came as a shock. It showed a level of planning in relation to tax that you would not associate with the hippyish entrepreneur. I've always known with Sir Richard that behind the relaxed exterior lies a careful mind. He liked to conduct his business meetings at his houses in Holland Park, in London, and Oxfordshire. The setting would be informal. Then you'd notice that everything being said was being recorded in a notebook posed casually on his lap.

It had to be like this: despite what the reputation suggests you don't get to build a worldwide empire spanning different sectors, all of them ferociously competitive, by being laid-back and not in control. It's also the case that the rich become rich by guarding their pennies, and that includes how much they pay in taxes.

Want to be a tycoon? Grow a beard and wear jeans …

Sir Richard's name crops up again, this time in a new book, The Rule Breaker's Book of Business by Roger Mavity. Once an advertising whizz, then one of those behind Granada's successful pitch for Forte, before becoming chairman of Citigate, the City PR agency, and later, CEO of Conran, before finally turning to writing and photography, Mr Mavity is becoming something of an expert where business and management are concerned.

In this, his second work – it's sub-titled "win at work by doing things differently" – he eschews traditional wisdom and focuses on those who have reached the summit by not slavishly following others.

Among them is Sir Richard. He "always appears in jeans and open-necked shirt, bearded, with a haircut which looks as if he's trying to impersonate an Afghan hound on a windy day.

"The metalanguage here (if you'll excuse a media studies term) is one of rebellion. He's saying: 'I'm not a conventional businessman. I'm one of the people. I'm young at heart. I do things differently.'"

Sir Richard, says Mr Mavity, has branded himself in a way that supports his business. His "rebellious persona feeds directly to the image of Virgin Atlantic as the lively, young airline taking on the stodgy might of middle-aged British Airways."

Sir Terence Conran, Steve Jobs – they were the same, they made themselves brands that complemented their businesses. That's all very well, but how does it relate to you and me? "The answer is simple: you can learn by studying success. And in this case, what you can learn is the power of making yourself a brand, of projecting a personality which radiates what you stand for. Don't think you have to become a business leader before that's relevant. It's the other way round: if you project a vivid personality, you're more likely to end up as a business leader."

The book is full of gems like this. Mr Mavity, in case you were wondering, is shaven-headed, lean, wears the coolest glasses you'll ever see. The perfect business guru, in fact.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released the first teaser trailer a week early after it leaked online

Extras
indybest
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
News
i100
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?