Monthly Archives: October 2010

Consider an IFA JV to build a stronger business

Lawyers who focus on protecting the family assets will keep the right clients coming back, bringing their friends, family and colleagues too.  To achieve this requires an ongoing relationship throughout the lifetime of each of client, which is perfectly feasible, but rarely achieved.  Lawyers need to try harder to understand the client and their particular circumstances well enough to provide services they value.  A joint venture with the right IFA organisation can create the focus needed.

Go here to download a review of JV Options.

Integration of financial services into legal service offerings has become more attractive with the shift in financial services from commissions to fee based remuneration and increasing levels of qualifications required to provide financial advice from 1st Jan 2013.  Also the potential in some cases to develop an ABS.

To explore the opportunities, It can help to focus minds on what  clients want by defining who they are – so you can visualise their concerns and explore what you can do to establish that relationship, to meet their needs and play to your strengths. We therefore talk a lot about picturing of a 35 to 55 year old couple in work, with children and parents they are concerned for.  They are the best prospects for many firms, to enable the laweyrs to pay to their (potential) strengths. Wealth management is a key part of their concerns, where there is a mix of legal and non-legal issues to address, with advice on financial services part of the mix.

in this article, SIFA talk about joint venture options to create the capability and the focus to enable you to retain your clients, buiild loyalty, provide a wider range of services and attract new clients into your business.  This is an option that any legal practice keen to develop a stable long term business around higher value individuals should be – at least – exploring.  There is potential here to transform at least some parts of your business.

Every joint venture needs focus on a shared business plan, which is where Inpractice UK come in to a) help lawyers recognise the full potential of the opportunities available and b) to make sure the right steps are taken, with persistence, to maek the most of the opportunity to improve the client’s experience and deepen their relationship with their lawyers.

Concise review of the Government's Spending Review

Download a concise summary of the government’s spending review from our accountants, Howard Worth & Co, who advise law firms on financial management.  All covered in 5 pages with an excellent summary on page 5 to put it all in context.  For more information, contact Andrew Hague, who is on the management committee for the Legal Group at the UK 200 Group .
.

Hosted IT – "Do it, but learn from experience"

Over the past 2 years, we have generally advised all clients reviewing their IT that they should at least explore the option of using some form of hosted IT. Some have decided to make the move to hosted; others decided against. This article provides direct candid feedback about the experience – warts and all – from some of the users in law firms (from 6 to 150 users) who chose to make the move. How it has gone, whether they recommend it, what they would do differently and plans for the future? 

In their own words – These summaries of conversations with senior people in each legal practice are a fair reflection of all our discussions. They paint a consistent picture of their experience overall. In essence, most say that there were inevitable issues that it took time to address; also that there is a tendency not to prepare quite enough, both on the part of the legal practice and the supplier. However for all of them, the business benefits have been justified in spite of the challenges they have had to deal with in making the transition.

“I didn’t want to spend a lot of capital up front …some teething problems, but there would be whatever changes you make on IT … one loss of connection in 8 months that stopped us working for ¾ of a day but worth it for the other benefits … access for the accountant cuts their costs to us … more flexibility in how we develop the business … easy to grow a virtual office… more remote working … 24 hour support … disaster recovery … no doubt we will stay hosted, although we may want to get more dedicated support as we grow, which will cost more but make good sense … convinced me to look at other outsourcing options to enable us to focus on doing the work and developing the business … yes it was the right decision for us. (c. 8 people practice, moved to hosted 1½ years ago.)

“Staff were pulling their hair out … printing was a problem for 2 weeks … digital dictation was a challenge but has been resolved as things have moved on … if we did it again, I would insist on more pre-planning on implementation but [the supplier] does that now anyway … we would have communicated more to our people about what we were doing … we now use everything hosted and wouldn’t do anything else … just added CRM … know exactly how much IT will cost … we can control costs at £x per person … we don’t have to take on and manage IT people … link performance of the business to costs … just renewed our contract … yes it was the right decision for us.”  (c. 150 people practice, moved to hosted 2½ years ago)

“It was the right decision … there were problems at the beginning though that have been resolved … fee earners don’t have the downtime we had before … not sure about the cost, but there is more competition now, so we will look at that on renewal … it has enabled us to focus on training our people to use the system … we may still look at other suppliers though on renewal … yes, we would recommend it.” (c. 150 people practice, moved to hosted 2 years ago).

“[Moving to hosted was] Like flicking a switch … went well … we should have briefed the staff to help them better understand the concept of how it works … I can’t explain how important the disaster recovery solution it gave us is to the business now … not using VoIP as there are still some issues on quality when being used by over 10 users, so we use other solutions and I am sure this will be resolved in the future … yes, we would recommend it.”  (c. 40 people practice, moved to hosted 3½ years ago).

Conclusions

All the practices we interviewed were happy with the decisions they made and satisfied that they have got it right for their business, but that doesn’t mean they all found it easy.

Experienced suppliers now appear to have adopted better routines to manage the move and have learned to anticipate the pitfalls – making it easier for the firms that follow in the footsteps of the pioneers. These early adopters have however benefited from making their move early; so they are now better prepared to extend their use of their systems faster in the future, having already gone through an important pain barrier.

On the other hand, the firms who decided in the end not to go for a hosted IT solution are all equally satisfied that – having explored the options – they made the right decision for their practice for now, although most would be willing to revisit this on their next major review, when solutions have developed further again.

Allan Carton

Collaborative Legal Practices Update

Good news on this project, which aims to enable groups of smaller firms in and around Greater Manchester to become more competitive and profitable through effective collaboration.  We have a nucleus of firms interested in taking forwards a workable framework (with variations for firms focused on different areas of business) developed during discussions over the summer.  It also looks as though we will be able to get funding to develop the tools needed – contracts, compliance, technology etc. – within several pilots over the next few months.  Funding arrangements are being finalised now and we will be arranging a new round of discussions very soon to take this further.

Earlier posts on this topic can be found at:

Allan Carton

Solicitor Joint Ventures With IFA's – Making it Work

Solicitors should explore the opportunities to establish a joint venture with the emerging elite tier of fee-based and highly qualified IFAs who are poised to enter the professional community due to major changes in their regulation.   A joint venture is one way to help reposition your practice up-market, where advisory skills will command a premium; at a time when organisations like Co-operative Legal Services are poised to capitalise on the commodity end of the legal market.

Effective integration of financial / wealth management services into a legal practice can help solicitors to regain their historic role of trusted advisers; it can also be a catalyst for change, provided the lawyers recognise the vision of a different kind of service their practice should deliver in the future.  One focused on satisfying a range of clients’ needs as part of a lifelong relationship, rather than completing legal transactions on demand.

In this download we explain how we work with SIFA and their (IFA and Solicitor) members to ensure the success of joint ventures between solicitors and IFA’s.  For more background and information on these JV’s, contact Allan Carton