Andersens moves clients to small firm

Arthur Andersen’s St Albans office has made the precedent-settingark new trend. move of finding a new home for all its private client and trust work.

Mercer & Hole, a three-office Home Counties firm, last week won the battle to take on a host of Andersens’ private clients, having secured the firm’s trust work at the end of last year. The work was previously done by a Binder Hamlyn practice prior to the merger with Andersens. Two partners have moved across to Mercer & Hole, with around 20 staff.

Edmund Wood, one of the partners to move to Mercers, said: ‘This move offers our clients continued excellence of service without the cost structure of a Big Six firm.’

Sources close to the firm said Andersens’ other reasons for transferring this work were to free up office space in St Albans, which is at a premium being so close to London, and ‘to allow them to concentrate on the big corporate clients, which are the mainstay of Andersens’ work’.

Paul Maberley, partner at Mercer & Hole, said: ‘They (Andersens) looked at our competition, but decided we had the expertise and offices in the right places. I think it’s good news for both parties.’

He also thought the transfer of work would set a precedent: ‘I’m sure this won’t be the only move of its kind. In fact, we’ve heard rumours – and they’re just rumours at the moment – that other Big Six firms are looking to do the same thing in the Home Counties.’

Mark Lee, partner at Group A firm BDO Stoy Hayward, said: ‘I’m sure the Big Six will do more of this. It shows the gulf between the Group A and Big Six firms. We want to look after all our clients’ business, not just the corporate work.’

But David Oliver, private client partner at Andersens, said the move was ‘appropriate in the particular circumstances of this case, but not in general. We are still very firmly in the private client business,’ he added.

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