Wealth management company receives ABS green light

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29 May 2013

Sedgwick: recruitment imminent

An alternative business structure (ABS) that aims to offer fixed-price legal services to the sports and media star clients of a wealth management group, is poised to open its doors.

BlackStar Legal (BSL), based in Sutton Coldfield, which is associated with BlackStar Group, received its ABS licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) last week, effective from 1 July.

In December Legal Futures reported that the ABS-in-waiting had made the high-profile hire of former Clark Wilmott chief executive, solicitor David Sedgwick from blue chip immigration firm Magrath. It plans to offer fixed-fee legal services in a one-stop shop with the group’s financial services products, as well as an outsourcing solution.

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The new ABS, which has three BlackStar investors, has been given a waiver from the SRA’s separate business rule that will allow group businesses BlackStar (Europe) Limited and BlackStar Technical Consulting LLP to continue to offer clients tax planning legal advice and instructions to counsel relating to that advice.

Mr Sedgwick, who is the ABS’s head of finance and administration, told Legal Futures that BSL had been preparing its business plan during the wait for the ABS licence, and meanwhile had “acted as part of the BlackStar Group, doing business for them”.

Recruitment for the ABS has not yet taken place, but he said: “I would imagine that recruitment is imminent.”

Once the ABS becomes active, BSL will be “looking to build on the services which the BlackStar Group offers to its client base”, which encompasses wealth management, financial planning, and tax planning.

Mr Sedgwick explained: “Our work will be much more mainstream legal; succession planning, wills planning, shareholder agreements, that kind of thing. It’s probably fair to say we are still in the process of putting the fine details to what our plans are.”

The ABS’s head of legal practice is solicitor David Birchall, who is also a former Clarke Wilmott partner. They are joined as directors by tax planning specialist solicitor Peter Snowden, who has provided in-house counsel to BlackStar since 2008.

BSL’s website promises “remote access over the telephone, internet and face-to-face meetings will all be part of the modern approach to delivering legal services” directly to clients, but also that it “will offer outsourcing solutions to our professional partners”. Outsourcing support will include being “able to report on case management and income streams on an individual basis”.

In December, Mr Birchall said BSL planned to “plug in” to the pool of existing clients from BlackStar’s wealth management business. Clients from the world of professional sport include former Ryder Cup golfer Paul Broadhurst, and fellow professional golfers James Frazer, Stuart Manley, and Joe Smoothy. BlackStar also provides sports management, covering golf, motorsport and football.

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