Business services pioneer launches ABS to extend offering to clients

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18 September 2015

Cohen: ABS is legal equivalent of internet for data services

Cohen: ABS is legal equivalent of internet for data services

A pioneering business services company that was one of the first in the world to sell corporate information online has launched an alternative business structure (ABS), with ambitions to add a range of legal services to its offering.

RM Company Services Limited was granted its ABS licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) last month, effective from 9 September.

RM offers both business information services – such as credit reports and company documents – and business registration services, including company and trade mark registration, creating trusts and offshore corporate structures, and brand and patent protection services.

Founded over 40 years ago, RM says that in 1997 it was the first online data system fully committed to web delivery, and four years ago launched what it claims was the world’s first company information and credit report app, aRMadillo.

It has employed lawyers and accountants for more than 10 years, and has offices in Eastern Europe, Canada and South Africa in addition to headquarters in Hertfordshire.

Chairman Emmanuel Cohen, who has described himself as an innovator and expert in anti-money laundering regulations, said the ABS would enable RM for the first time to “offer clients a complete range of corporate services all under one roof”.

He told Legal Futures that he believed ABS was the legal profession’s equivalent, in terms of potential for innovation, of what the internet was to data services.

He said the company had ambitious plans for the ABS after a period of “bedding in”. He said: “We have got plans to expand in the long term and to develop all our different products and work with our lawyers to develop new products.”

RM’s administration director, Julia Coe, said: “The goal is to provide a home and not just a house for companies and all their legal corporate needs, providing a one-stop shop from company formation through drafting of agreements, to the preparation of accounts and tax returns.”

Amanda Coyle, the ABS’s operations director, who will set its direction, said: “A strong team has been assembled including lawyers, paralegals and compliance specialists to look after all our clients’ corporate needs.

“The broader offer now includes services such as the drafting of corporate documents, agreements, general commercial legal advice, the administration of oaths, as well as accounting, bookkeeping services, company formation, administration and trust constitution.”

The ABS’s head of legal practice and of finance and administration, as well as its compliance officer for legal practice, is solicitor Max Kapp. He is joined by barrister Jeremy Dable.

Mr Cohen said a positive consequence of the application had been an “introspection” within the company: “It’s really made us look at ourselves. In looking at the ABS from a regulatory point of view, it made us look at every part of our business, what we do what how we do it, how we record things.

“We’ve been around for 40 years; sometimes you need to delve into the nuts and bolts of the business and change it and bring it up to date.”

But he acknowledged that the application process had been challenging. “The amount of regulation we have to deal with has gone through the roof, but we expected that and are quite used to it. We work in the compliance area anyway.”

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