Revealed: the first accountancy firm to form an ABS
Accountants: debate over one-stop shop
The first accountancy firm to be granted an alternative business structure (ABS) licence has said it won’t “shoot itself in the foot” by entering the legal market – just yet.
Price Bailey has created a legal services business which has been given approval by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
However, managing director Peter Gillman said that the firm, which has an established niche in advising law firms, will be careful not to “tread on the toes” of its clients.
Price Bailey is an eight-office firm of chartered accountants across East Anglia, London and Guernsey that advises law firms on ABS and corporate structures.
Mr Gillman said they created Price Bailey Legal Services LLP after recruiting solicitor Victoria Pratley from Pellys to run its large payroll solutions department, which often strayed into areas of employment law.
He said the ABS structure for the legal services entity now allows the firm to promote that offering in the market.
Mr Gillman added: “Once the legislation came in, it has been something of a discussion topic between lawyers and accountants as to whether there is a movement in the market to bring the two professions together. The logic of an allegiance is clear to see.” However, he acknowledged that it was less clear whether the market is ready for an accountancy firm going into legal services.
Although Price Bailey is breaking new ground, Mr Gillman said there was “no immediate plan” to “tread on the toes of law firms” and that he was “very conscious” not to alienate mutual business opportunities.
But he continued: “Over time there will be a natural push towards the synergies between the two professions and we will looking at whether it is better for to keep a separate legal identity or create a one-stop shop for accountancy and legal services.”
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