Mid-tier Firms – Defections hit Haines

The largest office of top 20 firm BKR Haines Watts has lost six of its eight equity partners in the past month and now faces competition from Marlborough House Group, a rival set up by four of the defectors.

Steve Freedman, one of the four, said they wanted freedom to pursue more entrepreneurial business opportunities, for example, by becoming non-executive directors or shareholders of the firms they advise. ‘You can’t do that within the accountancy profession,’ he said.

Freedman and some of the other Marlborough partners have retained their existing clients, but have set up audit arrangements with local accountancy firms, including Haines Watts.

The Slough office is the largest in Haines Watts’ network of 35 offices, which became part of the international BKR network last October, and is reputed to generate around a quarter of the firm’s national income of £32.6m. A significant portion of the fees would have been earned by the partners, who opened the Marlborough House Group for business two weeks ago.

The defection of the Marlborough four followed the retirement of partners Andrew Garside and Erik Wight, and the decision of another partner, Paul Gough, to rejoin Arthur Andersen, where he trained.

Garside and Wight will still act as part-time consultants for BKR Haines Watts.

David Griffiths, senior partner at Haines Watts in Slough, said: ‘The restructuring has been carefully planned and managed over a six-month period and the departures are entirely amicable.’ The firm’s five new equity partners include four junior partners promoted from within – Paul Simmons, Andrea Parsons, Michael Davidson and Colm Byrne – plus BKR international partner Geoffrey Fairclough and Yogan Patel from the firm’s London office.

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