March of the accountants – now KPMG gains ABS licence

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1 October 2014

KPMG: in recruitment mode

KPMG has become the second member of the ‘Big Four’ accountants to be awarded an alternative business structure licence.

However, unlike PwC, KPMG said it has no intention of developing a standalone legal practice.

Its UK chairman, Simon Collins, said: “The multi-disciplinary ABS licence enables us to enhance and increase the legal services we offer our clients. We are taking a focused approach: our key market differentiator is that we will only offer legal services which are fully integrated with other areas where we already provide advice.

“To be clear, we have absolutely no plans to develop any kind of standalone legal practice. The new regulatory regime, designed to open up the provision of professional services across the sector, allows us to extend our legal services provision where we have a proven and successful track record.”

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KPMG has had non-practising solicitors working in its tax and pensions practice for the last decade, providing legal advice primarily in the area of tax litigation. But in recent years the 50-strong team – including four partners – has expanded to cover corporate, commercial, immigration and employment matters, “with plans to move into other areas where clients demand an integrated service”, it said.

Gary Harley, partner responsible for the roll out of KPMG’s expanded legal services business under the ABS, said: “Our existing legal team is on track to generate almost £10m in revenues this year and our future ambitions are to build on the solid foundations of this proven strategy, developing our ‘bench strength and capability’ in further areas which are complementary to and integrated with our existing business.

“We are in recruitment mode: we have already hired a number of extremely highly regarded lawyers and we continue to attract exceptionally high quality candidates as we add to our team.”

SRA executive director Richard Collins said: “The vehicle KPMG has created to deliver a range of professional services in a one-stop shop is exactly the kind of entity envisaged when the Legal Services Act was introduced.

“We believe ABSs of this type will benefit consumers by providing greater competition in the provision of legal services, greater opportunities to access holistic services, and potential reductions in cost by services being made available in one place.”

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