Sovereign is a leading independent provider of corporate, private client and retirement planning services. The company currently manages over 20,000 structures for a wide variety of clients – companies, entrepreneurs, private investors or high net worth individuals (HNWIs) and their families.

While the group offers a wide range of bespoke services, they focus on three specific areas; corporate services, private client services and retirements planning, with all that these areas entail.

They are dedicated to offering integrated advice, products and services to internationally mobile businesses and people that have sophisticated and often complex needs. The company assist them to generate, structure and protect their income and assets in the most efficient way.

A long history

As chairman of the group, Howard Bilton has nurtured the company since he first set it up in 1987 in Gibraltar, to become the success it is today. “Gibraltar was the perfect choice to begin,” Howard told The Portugal News, “being a bilingual location with direct access to the market in Spain. In the old days we worked to put property into offshores and worked to legally avoid capital gains and other taxes for our clients”.

Only a year later Howard moved his services into the Algarve: “Portugal had a very similar system to the one in Spain and we were able to work legally and transparently with our clients to enable tax benefits,” Howard explained, although working between Gibraltar and the Algarve in the 1980’s was not as logistically easy as it is today “it used to be a nine hour drive along dreadful roads and with a wait for a ferry to cross the border to get into Portugal – if it turned up!”

From the Gibraltar and Algarve offices the company then grew quickly to over 20 offices around the world, and now The Sovereign Group employs some 575 people.

Growing needs

While the core business of the group remains tax planning, the company quickly understood that clients had many other needs, especially when trying to navigate business in a foreign country.

“We saw that people needed help with structuring their business in other countries so we moved into areas such as immigration, work permits, setting up a business, facilitating business, efficient ways to do business, accounting and fiscal representation, as well as filing tax returns and also dealing with pensions”.

Howard has had a long connection to Portugal but came to stay in Portugal temporarily in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions and has never left since! Initially he had planned to take a step back from the company but since being in Portugal he has taken a great interest in the opportunities the country has to offer, in particular the NHR programme. “I was wanting to be part of the NHR and it really isn’t as simple as it seems, as I know from personal experience. So now I am back at the coal face, especially due to the amount of people choosing to come to Portugal from Hong Kong.”

A family company

While the company has grown to being one of the world’s largest privately owned consultancies specialising in the provision of offshore trusts and companies and associated international tax advice, Howard still very much considers The Sovereign Group to be a “family business, run with a family ethos”.

“We have 10,000 clients on our books but many of them are looking for just little bits and pieces. We welcome every client and offer free quotes so that everything is upfront and transparent,” Howard explained.

“We may have 20 offices but we still work in small teams and are happy to help people of all levels. It is also really important to us that people know what they are going to be charged before they work with us. When we meet with clients we ask them what we can help them with, and then we will let them know if we are the best people to work with – if we can’t do something then we will be always sure to let the client know”.

Looking ahead

While tax planning and advice is central to The Sovereign Group, as the market changes the company constantly adapts to the varying needs of clients.

“Currently we are doing a lot of work involving the D7 visas, golden visas and retirees. These are not new for us but we have seen an increase in interest as more and more people look to Portugal as a location to relocate to. We also continue to help with a lot of paperwork relating to Brexit and continue to be active in this space,” said Howard.

With such a solid foundation, and a vast amount of experience in the market, The Sovereign Group continues to be a leader and innovator in providing independent corporate, private client and retirement planning services.

For further information about The Sovereign Group, please visit