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Leading business recovery firm launches ABS

Gregory: accountants have the ear of the SME sector [1]

Gregory: accountants have the ear of the SME sector

Well-known recovery specialist Leonard Curtis has today launched an alternative business structure (ABS) to create a multi-disciplinary offering to businesses in financial distress.

Leonard Curtis Legal (LCL), is headed by Andrew Gregory, former head of business restructuring and Manchester office managing partner at national firm DWF.

The solicitor said his experience to date showed how accountants were much better at being SMEs’ ‘trusted adviser’ than law firms.

From its beginnings as an insolvency practice in London, Leonard Curtis Business Solutions Group has grown to become a leading provider of debt and funding solutions to SMEs, and has 11 offices nationally.

Director Daniel Booth said: “The wider group sees more and more situations that need a solution which crosses over professional disciplines and services in the SME space. Adding legal services was a natural next step for Leonard Curtis.”

LCL’s advice will range from business finance, contract reviews and employment advice, to cash management, debt recovery and dispute resolution. There will also be specialist services for individuals and lenders.

Mr Gregory said: “In these areas, we plan to offer high-quality national law firm expertise with, wherever possible, the provision of fixed fees.”

However, he said Leonard Curtis would continue to refer specialist work to its network of law firms where needed.

Writing on LCL’s new blog, Mr Gregory said becoming an ABS meant the LCL could offer “a one-stop business advice service which will complement and support the other LCBSG service lines, such as Reach Commercial Finance, which sources finance for SMEs, so providing the accountant and lender network with advice which is tailored and provided alongside the services being offered by accountants and lenders to their customers and clients.”

Explaining why he helped set up LCL, having agreed to retire from DWF two years ago, he said: “For many years during my time in private practice, I was struck with how ‘clunky’ the delivery of professional services was to owner managers and SMEs.

“It is fine if you are a large PLC with significant resources to deal with all legal and financial issues. But what if you are a start-up, or a growing business with little time or money to expend on professional advisors? In my experience, people want straightforward and speedy answers to the situations they encounter in running their business.

“For years the accountancy profession has been well ahead of the game in becoming the trusted adviser to this sector. Lawyers have tried to get in on the act by trying to become ‘business advisers’ rather than just firms of solicitors. The problem for lawyers in private practice is that they are traditionally transaction based. The client makes contact, gets the service, pays the bill and there is no further contact until the client thinks he or she has a need for a lawyer again.

“My first eight months with LCBSG have confirmed what I have always seen and believed. The accountants have the ear of the SME sector. Clients call them about a variety of business issues.”