March of the accountants, part 3: EY gains ABS licence

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1 December 2014

EY London

EY: Aiming to build a “strong multi-disciplinary practice”

The march of accountancy firms into legal services took a further step today when EY announced it had obtained a license from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to set up an alternative business structure.

EY, which describes itself as “a global professional services firm”, said it aimed to become an “integrated, multi-disciplinary practice providing corporate, commercial, employment and financial services legal advice alongside its existing services”.

Steve Varley, EY’s UK chairman and regional managing partner for the UK and Ireland, said: “We aren’t competing with the business models of traditional law firms – we are offering something new.

“By working closely with other parts of the organisation, clients will benefit from our global scale and in-depth industry knowledge as well as having a single point of contact for all of their professional service needs.

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“Whether advising on large transactions, employment structures or group reorganisation projects, having lawyers, accountants and other professional advisers working side by side will be a real advantage to our clients and ultimately help us to provide a better level of service.”

KPMG was granted an ABS licence by the SRA in October this year and PwC in January.

A spokesman for EY said the firm had appointed three UK partners for the ABS, with a further 30 staff being recruited over the next six months. The team will be led by Philip Goodstone and Matthew Kellett. Mr Kellett will lead financial services, Mr Goodstone will head up all other services and Daniel Aherne will lead the employment law team.

“While we are still in the recruitment phase, we have already received strong levels of interest from a number of clients,” Mr Goodstone said.

“Our priority is now to grow the team to ensure that we are able to meet this demand. We welcome the opportunity to build a quality UK offering with both junior and experienced lawyers in a strong multi-disciplinary practice.”

The spokesman added that EY’s global law practice already had over 1100 people in 60 locations and in the last 12 months, and EY had created legal teams in Mexico, Costa Rica, Singapore, China, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. It will have a presence in more than 80 jurisdictions by 2017.

Cornelius Grossmann, EY’s global law leader, said: “Having a presence within the UK legal market is an important step as we continue to grow globally. The granting of an ABS will complement EY’s already established multidisciplinary law offering as we expand our network internationally.”

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