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Accountancy giant names new boss for Scotland

PwC has unveiled a new boss for its operation in Scotland. The firm has unveiled Claire Reid as the successor to long-standing Scottish chairman Lindsay Gardiner, who has stepped down after seven years in the role.

Ms Reid, until recently head of assurance for PwC in Scotland, becomes the first female to hold the post.

And she comes to the role with a strong background in technology. Ms Reid joined PwC in 1998 and in the earlier part of her career with the firm was based in Silicon Valley, California, where she worked with a number of high-profile technology clients.

On returning to the UK she worked to establish and develop PwC’s relationship with Oracle, a cloud computing partner, going on to help build the firm’s cyber security operation, during a 10-year spell in London.

Ms Reid, who has a degree in international business and modern languages from the University of Strathclyde, returned to her hometown of Glasgow in 2016 to become head of assurance and lead the firm’s technology risk practice across the UK.

Ms Reid said: “I am truly honoured to take on the role as regional leader for Scotland. It’s great to be back home in Scotland, working with local organisations and supporting them to prosper and grow across the region.

“Scotland has a dynamic and thriving economy with lots of great opportunity for business, our communities and the people of Scotland.

“I am really excited to build on our recent success and on our investment in Scotland. With my background in technology and digital change, I look forward to bringing continued energy and focus to this topic for our region.”

Mr Gardiner meanwhile will continue to work within the firm’s audit business. Mr Gardiner said: “Leading our wider team in Scotland for the last seven years has been a privilege and great fun. A lot has changed in that time, both in the way we deliver services for our clients, and in the firm itself.

“We now work, in some respects, for the majority of listed companies based in Scotland, have developed our oil and gas and financial services centres of excellence and significantly grown our services to locally-based private organisations and across the public sector.

“We now have more than 900 staff in Scotland and we have opened our new offices in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.”

EY appoints Ally Scott as managing partner of Scottish operations

EY has for the first time appointed someone who is not a chartered accountant to head its Scottish operation, and flagged major hiring plans.

Ally Scott, who joined the accountancy firm’s Scottish operation from banking giant Barclays in autumn 2016 as head of transaction advisory services, will succeed Mark Harvey as EY’s managing partner for Scotland on July 1. Mr Harvey will remain a partner of EY until next April, before joining car retailing giant Arnold Clark as chief financial officer in the summer of 2020.

A spokeswoman for EY confirmed that Mr Scott would be the first leader of the Scottish business who was not a chartered accountant.

EY highlighted its ambitions to increase its current Scottish workforce of about 1,000 by 25 per cent over the next 12 months.

The spokeswoman said: “We are going to be recruiting at all levels of seniority but also across all service lines. It is in all geographies as well. It is across the office network.”

EY has offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen.

The accountancy firm noted Mr Scott had led the firm’s Scottish transaction advisory services practice to 15% and 21% growth in its last two financial years, “helping secure deals for prominent Scottish clients such as Simon Howie Group, QTS Group and Weir Group”.

EY noted Mr Harvey had, since taking on the Scotland managing partner role in 2015, raised the annual revenues of the accountancy firm’s Scottish business from about £100 million to £170m.

Mr Scott, who joined Royal Bank of Scotland as a 16-year-old trainee and worked for the Edinburgh-based institution from 1985 to 2005 before joining Barclays, said: “It’s a real honour to take up the role of managing partner. Under Mark’s leadership, EY has enjoyed significant growth in Scotland, securing notable client wins across all service lines and investing in our product offering to support a broader range of businesses.”

He added: “Our ambition to increase headcount to 1,250 staff across all levels in the next 12 months is a strong signal of our intent to build on that momentum. It’s an exciting time to be part of our business. Our continued investment in technology and automation has resulted in our Edinburgh office becoming EY’s UK centre of excellence in data analytics and provides our clients with an exceptional level of strategic insight and clarity in decision-making.”

The EY spokeswoman noted some of the new jobs would be in the data analytics, automation and digital area, but emphasised hiring would be broadly based, citing a ramping up of activity across assurance, advisory and tax operations.

Harte PHOTO

Morton Fraser chalks up 60% revenue growth over last five years

INDEPENDENT law firm Morton Fraser has chalked up revenue growth of nine per cent, topping the £20 million mark for annual billings for the first time in its history (£21.7m). It also saw profits soar 13% in the year to April 30, 2018, with revenue having grown 60% over the last five years.

The Scottish firm, which employs over 270 staff, attributed its growth to its investment in people. And it declared its strong commercial performance would result in another increase to Morton Fraser’s performance-related bonus scheme, which will reward all staff with up to 13% of their annual salary.

Chris Harte, chief executive, said that the quality of the team at Morton Fraser was the “one consistent factor underpinning this period of growth for our business”. Mr Harte said: “We have some exceptional talent and some of the best specialist teams in the country. The roster of truly independent Scottish firms is dwindling, and our focus on talent is setting us apart.”

Performance highlights included a “fantastic year” for the firm’s commercial real estate division, boosted by a strong performance in London. It also advised Rockspring on the purchase of 9-10 St Andrew Square in Edinburgh and BAM Properties on its role in the city’s largest speculative office development at Capital Square.

Morton Fraser’s corporate team played an integral part in Quattro Group’s multi-million-pound acquisition of Scotland’s big gest privately-owned plant hire operator, AB2000.

Mr Harte said that the firm, which merged with Macdonalds five years ago and has offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow, continued to work with longstanding clients including Diageo for which Morton Fraser is lead legal adviser for the global drinks giant’s commercial real estate work in the UK.

It also saw an increase in its international work, with a growing number of referrals through the global network Interlaw.

“It would be wrong to assume that a proudly independent firm in Scotland can only do business in Scotland,” Mr Harte said.

“Our connections and reputation extend not only into the City of London, but also internationally.

“We help overseas clients to assess their options here and also support domestic clients in other jurisdictions too,” he added. “We are the only Scottish firm in the Interlaw network but you still need a reputation for excellence to succeed internationally.”

The firm, said Mr Harte, had spent the last five years “getting into the right shape and investing in people”, and has increased its headcount by 30%. “That has been the bedrock of success for us,” he said. “A lot of people have been working really hard to get us to this stage and it is still about trying to retain and attract the right people.

“As we become more successful it makes it easier for us to have conversations with people we think might be interested in working for us and we have had people choose to relocate to Scotland rather than move to another firm in London, for example.”

There was also an increase in profits and turnover for international law firm Pinsent Masons which employs 540 staff in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Its unaudited results for 2017/18 showed a 6% increase in global turnover to £450m. Fees billed rose by 10% on the previous year. In the last five years, turnover has increased by more than 40% while profit growth has jumped by 60%.

The results follow a period of investment which has included setting up a technology and financial services-focused practice in Dublin. In the last year, Pinsent Masons has added an energy and infrastructure practice in Perth to complement its Australian business in Sydney and Melbourne.

Law firm Brodies reports ‘record’ revenues in 2017/18 tax year

Brodies said revenues grew by 2.4% to a “record” £66.7m in the year to 30 April, while profits before partner distributions rose by 2.6% to £31.7m.

The law firm said its results had been achieved despite political and economic uncertainty following last year’s Brexit vote.

Brodies runs offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Brussels.

It has 94 partners, more than 300 professional advisers and 217 support staff.

The firm said highlights for the year included acting as lead legal adviser to Aberdeen City Council on its landmark £370m index-linked bond issue on the London Stock Exchange.

It also acted as lead adviser to Abellio on its sale of 40% of the Greater Anglia rail franchise to global conglomerate Mitsui and Co Ltd.

‘Dramatic year’

Managing partner Bill Drummond said: “All in all, it has been a very busy and at times quite dramatic year for Brodies and our clients, which underscores our satisfaction in recording another year of enhanced business performance for the firm across a number of measures.

“Along with most of our clients – British or overseas – at Brodies we were surprised by the news, on 24 June last year, that the UK had voted to leave the EU.

“The consequences for Brexit and the economy are now having to be further digested following the UK general election result and the absence of any one party with a clear majority at Westminster.

“Against this backdrop the increase in income that we are reporting is a satisfactory outcome for the year, indeed a new high point for the firm.”