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Pinsent Masons Named Stonewall’s Scotland Diversity Champion

Pinsent Masons has been crowned Scottish Diversity Champion for a second year by equality campaign charity Stonewall.

The first law firm to be included in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index back in 2008, Pinsent Masons has consistently ranked in the Top 100 British employers. This year marks the fifth consecutive year the firm has been placed in the British top five and the second successive year as Top Employer Private Sector in the Stonewall Scotland Workplace Awards.

With more than 500 staff based at offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, Pinsent Masons has been consistent in supporting LGBT issues in the workplace and out with the business.

Construction sector specialist and senior associate, Craig Macphee, collected the award on behalf of colleagues at a celebration dinner at the Virgin Money Banking Hall in Glasgow.

Craig Macphee said: “The willingness of the firm to embrace diversity and inclusion has benefits across the firm. It encourages a more inclusive atmosphere and even for those staff not directly affected by diversity issues, they will feel a parallel benefit if other colleagues are able to come to work and be genuine or authentic.”

“More often now, we are being asked by clients, and even third parties who supply services to Pinsent Masons, to share information on the approach we are taking on diversity issues, and we are happy to be able to positively contribute to the wider equality agenda.”

One initiative which has made a significant contribution to promoting diversity within Pinsent Masons has been the formation of an LGBT Allies network. Staff can privately discuss with an Ally, who are visible and known throughout the firm, matters they may feel they are unable or unwilling to raise with managers.

Craig added: “The Allies network has gained a lot of traction with staff and they are available for anyone, working at any level, who would benefit from have a confidential sounding board or is looking to seek advice on a range of issues. There is also a strong partnership across the firm with other forums such as our Disability and Wellbeing Network and Female Futures Network, because often those groups share common issues and experiences.”

Pinsent Masons’ Chair of Scotland and Northern Ireland, Katharine Hardie, said: “Diversity and inclusion is a central tenet of our business and we are delighted that Stonewall has again recognised the work being done across the firm, and particularly in Scotland, on these vitally important issues.

“Law graduates are increasingly selective when it comes to deciding which firms they will work for and resting on our laurels and past reputation will not cut it when it comes to attracting the best legal talent. Being highly regarded by the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index provides potential future employees with a valuable benchmark and an assurance that diversity and inclusion is treated seriously at Pinsent Masons.”

Colin Macfarlane, Director of Stonewall Scotland, said: “Pinsent Masons are playing a huge role in improving the lives of LGBT people in Scotland, and should be very proud of their work.

“We still don’t live in a world where everyone is able to be themselves in the workplace, as we know more than a third of LGBT staff (36 per cent) hide who they are at work. By taking steps to make their workplaces supportive and welcoming of all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, these organisations are bringing us closer to a world where everyone is accepted without exception.”

If you would like to find out more information, please visit: https://www.pinsentmasons.com/

Scottish manufacturing excellence and innovation recognised

Nominations are open for a national award to recognise excellence and innovation in Scotland’s manufacturing sector, the First Minister has announced.

The First Minister’s Award for Manufacturing Leadership celebrates competitive and innovative manufacturing companies who champion fair work and invest in the skills and wellbeing of their employees.

The winning company will receive:

  • a physical award designed by students on Skills Development Scotland’s Engineering: Design and Manufacture Graduate Apprenticeships programme
  • two places, together worth £2,500, on a delegation arranged by the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) of industry leaders visiting an overseas advanced manufacturing site
  • one year of free enterprise membership of Scotland House in London which gives access to meeting rooms, event spaces and exclusive networking events

The Scottish Government is supporting advancement in manufacturing including the £65 million National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, up to £14 million investment through the Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund, and the £39 million Glasgow City Regions City Deal project to develop the essential infrastructure needed for the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland.

The First Minister said: “Scotland has a long and proud tradition in manufacturing, a highly productive and dynamic sector of our economy. We are also committed to inclusive growth that combines increased prosperity with greater equality, opportunity and fairness.

“A thriving manufacturing sector is crucial to Scotland’s economic future, so the Scottish Government wants to celebrate the companies who lead the way in their commitment to innovation and excellence whilst investing in the skills and wellbeing of their employees.

“I look forward to seeing the great work being done by our many exemplary manufacturing companies who go the extra mile to champion fair work and inclusivity.”

The winner will be announced at the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service’s National Manufacturing Conference on 26 May, 2020.

Tilney targets Smith & Williamson for merger

The board of Tilney has confirmed that it is in exclusive discussions with Smith & Williamson about a potential combination of the two businesses.

In a statement Tilney said: ‘A merger of Tilney and Smith & Williamson would create a market-leading, integrated UK wealth management and professional services group with over £45bn of assets under management.

‘These discussions are ongoing and there can be no certainty that a transaction will proceed. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.’

Smith & Williamson confirmed that talks are underway and that the accounting arm of the firm is part of the ongoing talks.

In a statement, Smith & Williamson said: ‘Further to the announcement by AGF Management Ltd to the Toronto Stock Exchange yesterday (18 August) regarding its shareholding in Smith & Williamson, the board of Smith & Williamson confirms that it has received an approach and is in exclusive discussions about a combination of its business with Tilney Group.

‘The respective boards believe that a merger of Smith & Williamson and Tilney has the potential to deliver significant benefits to the clients, employees, partners and shareholders of both businesses and create a market-leading, integrated, UK wealth management and professional services firm. Discussions remain ongoing and at this stage there is no certainty that a transaction will proceed. A further announcement will be made in due course.’

Smith & Williamson, founded in Glasgow in 1881, is ranked at number eight in the Accountancy Daily Top 75 Firms annual survey. The firm’s business model is based on a mix of financial and professional services, with a significant managed funds business. Its financial results, released in July, showed operating income increased 4.3% year-on-year to £278.1m while adjusted operating profit increased by 4.8% to £48.4m.

Professional services income, including revenue from tax and business services was up 6.5% to £104.7m, although the firm changed its reporting lines this year.

The funds under management and advice service line increased by 6.5% year-on-year to £21.4bn.

Tilney, which was bought by private equity firm Permira in 2014 from Deutsche Bank, manages some £24bn of client assets. It acquired competitor Towry in 2016 and also runs the online service Bestinvest.

The bid from Tilney, reported in the Sunday Times, comes two years after listed wealth manager Rathbones tried to buy Smith & Williamson. In August 2017 Rathbones, which manages over £32bn of client funds through Rathbone Investment Management proposed a merger, but talks were called off the following month.

At the time, Smith & Williamson said it intend to pursue a public listing and confirmed this view on publication of its latest results.

Andrew Sykes, non-executive chairman of Smith & Williamson, said in the firm’s annual report: ‘We continue to plan for a listing to take place at some juncture in 2020, subject to market conditions.’

If the deal goes ahead, the combined business would have about 250 financial planners, 240 investment managers and more than 100 partners in professional services.

There has been a flurry of mergers and acquisitions among wealth management firms in recent years, driven partly by increased regulatory supervision and the need for economies of scale.

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.”

Independent wealth management firm acquires six businesses

Succession Wealth has acquired six financial advisory businesses from around the United Kingdom. Together, the deals add up to £800m in assets under management, bringing Succession’s total AUM to more than £8bn.

As a result of the six new acquisitions, a further 2,100 clients will join Succession Wealth, as well as 16 qualified and experienced Financial Planners.

In April, Succession Wealth announced it had secured over £100m of additional financing facilities through its existing financing arrangements, to fund an intensive acquisition plan and accelerate its national growth and presence.

As a result 55 firms have now joined Succession since 2014 – an average of one acquisition per month.

The latest six acquired companies are:

  • Mackenzie Investment Strategies, Inverness
  • Winter Financial Services, Marlow
  • Warwick Butchart Associates, Cheltenham
  • Killermont Investments, Glasgow
  • Additional Glasgow business acquired subject to FCA Change of Control approval
  • Ellaby Pollard, Bristol

James Stevenson, CEO, Succession Wealth, said: “We are delighted to welcome the proprietors and staff of these outstanding businesses on board.

“We share common values and a relentless drive to achieve excellence for our clients.

“We look forward to these acquisitions continuing to drive the growth and development of our national business.

“Since the launch of our advisory business just five years ago and the acquisitions we have completed, Succession Wealth is now in a very strong position to continue to deliver sustainable growth and become the UK’s foremost professional financial planning practice.

“The most sustainable companies prioritise their relationships with their clients and stakeholders, and our aim is to ensure everyone who is interested in benefiting from full Financial Planning and wealth management has ready access to the best possible advice.

“These latest acquisitions extend our national coverage, creating new regional offices in Inverness and Bristol and considerably strengthening our already significant presence in Glasgow and the Thames Valley.”

Duncan Mackenzie, founder of Chartered Financial Planning firm, Mackenzie Investment Strategies, said: “Succession has invested heavily in Scotland and, for us, it was essential for our clients and staff to join an established, reputable company that would allow us to foster the same level of trust and provide the same quality of service upon which we had based our reputation.”

Bristol based financial advisory firm, Ellaby Pollard’s managing director, Andy Barr, said: “Our clients will continue to receive high quality financial planning advice but will also enjoy enhanced services and an improved proposition as a result of us becoming part of a larger, national organisation.”

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.