Gateley: Being a PLC will help protect us from Brexit uncertainty

Brexit: Gateley well positioned well to withstand Brexit-led economic down-turn

National law firm Gateley has told investors that its decision to list on the London Stock Exchange will help it withstand potential economic uncertainty caused by Brexit.

Its annual report also showed that finance director Neil Smith was the top earner among the senior management in the year to 30 April 2017.

The firm announced strong headline results in July but the annual report, sent to shareholders this week, contains more detail.

This year it has added Brexit to the list of principal risks and uncertainties, saying this: “The Group considers that it is positioned well to withstand an economic down-turn which might result from Brexit.

“This assessment is made by virtue of the broad-based nature of the Group’s activities; comprising legal and non-legal services delivered to a diversified client-base.

“The Group’s trade is not reliant upon any single client, sector, region or public sector activity, nor is it reliant upon the capital markets activity of its clients. Group cash-flows are largely unaffected by currency fluctuations.

“The Group also believes that, regardless of Brexit, English law will remain one of, if not the, preeminent legal code, protecting demand for UK legal services even in challenging economic times.

“The Group believes that potential economic uncertainty justifies the Group’s decision to move to a Plc structure, which structure provides the platform for the continued, measured growth and development of the business.”

Three members of the board are executives – chief executive Michael Ward and chief operating officer Peter Davies both earned salaries of £135,000 and received bonuses of £57,000, making £192,000 in total.

Mr Smith, who is also the company secretary, had a salary of £138,000, a bonus of £76,000 and received £4,000 worth of share options. His extra bonus was down to being eligible for an award from the performance pool. The overall figure of £218,000 was 22% up on the previous year. The other two were up 9%.

But Mr Ward and Mr Davies both have just under 3m shares each, and so will also receive nearly £200,000 each in dividends. Mr Smith, who has 500,000 shares, will receive £33,000.

Three staff share schemes are now in place – an all-staff save-as-you-earn share scheme (staff numbers were at a record high of 717); a company share option plan (CSOP) for associates, senior associates, legal directors and their equivalent levels within the support services team; and a stock appreciation rights scheme for partners.

The annual report recorded: “Being able to offer something different as an employer has helped us not only retain staff since the IPO but has also attracted a wide pool of fresh talent. All staff that were employed at the time of the IPO received a nominal number of shares.

“[Some] 43% of all staff participated in our first SAYE scheme in September 2016 whilst 137 associates, senior associates, legal directors and the equivalent levels within our support services team received CSOP awards in December 2016.”

    Readers Comments

  • George Morrison says:

    The first duty of a solicitor is to his clients. The first duty of a limited company is to its shareholders.
    Is there not a conflict of interest?
    Perhaps I am just old fashioned but I always put my client first. Could this be why they still ask my advice twenty years after I retired?

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