Listed law firm Ince has heralded a return to City firms offering private client services by launching an integrated private wealth offering for corporate clients.
Nick Rucker, partner and global head of private wealth at Ince, said the offering encompassed financial advice, corporate finance, international corporate services and the Ince consultancy business.
He said many of Ince’s clients were shipping firms, and the individuals and families involved were often keener to talk about the source of their wealth and the deals they wanted to do than tax or succession planning.
He said the former law firm Ince & Co, bought by Gordon Dadds at the end of 2018 to create the Ince Group, had no private client department and “never really talked to these clients about their private wealth”.
Gordon Dadds, in contrast, was well known for its private client and family work. Mr Rucker said that in emerging economies, around 70% of businesses were owned by private individuals.
“For a certain size of business, the ability to advise the individual and the company is very compelling, and it’s what we want to do”.
While other law firms “struggled to get their head around what an integrated private wealth offering can offer”, Ince was left “in a subset of one”.
Mr Rucker said that the biggest law firms found it “difficult to understand” what the value was in having a private client department, given that the fees from that kind of work were lower.
The main rivals to Ince Private Wealth were the top private client specialist law firms and the Big Four accountants, he said.
Revenue for the coming year, excluding wealth planning work regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, was estimated at £6.4m.
He said Ince Private Wealth could provide legal services, like private client, family work and conveyancing, alongside a full tax service and “all the financial advice that an individual or business might require”.
Business clients could benefit from corporate finance advice, access to the firm’s own fully regulated merchant bank and corporate services based in Gibraltar, Cyprus and Hong Kong.
The Ince consultancy business could advise on regulation and anti-money laundering.
The firm said the integrated nature of its private wealth offering removed administration and complexity, and reduced costs.
The pandemic made long-term financial planning more complex and Brexit brought “a myriad of challenges for international individuals and families residing or investing in the UK”.
Chief executive Adrian Biles said: “This move further strengthens Ince’s position as a fully integrated legal and professional services company and demonstrates our growth plans in complementary areas as part of this.”
Earlier this year, Ince launched a pioneering integrated legal advisory, business consultancy and technology offering for the maritime sector.
Meanwhile, last week Ince announced that it had seen a 4.8% increase in revenue to £50m for the six months to 30 September. Operating profit jumped 36% to £3.4m.
Mr Biles said: “This is a solid set of results. I am particularly pleased to see that the UK business is gaining strength and the offices in Asia are continuing to grow…
“Second-half trading so far has been encouraging, and I am optimistic about our future and for the group’s next phase focussing on delivering on our growth strategy.”
Investors were told that the group’s strategy “continues to be to grow income profitably by adding fee-earning partners to a single efficient administrative operation”. This should increase “the intellectual capital of the business and the quality of its client and matter base”.
“The delivery of this strategy includes recruiting high-quality personnel, developing new business streams, acquiring complementary businesses and forging strategic alliances where appropriate.”
The half-year report revealed also that, following a strategic review, partners and fee-earners will be more incentivised to refer work across the business.