Practice – Group A partners quit

Four partners quit Robson Rhodes last week following rows over governance and demands for increased capital contributions from the firm.

The partners, all of whom worked in the firm’s Cambridge office, are currently in talks with Grant Thornton, discussing a move to the Group A rival firm.

The decision to quit was quickly seen as a major blow to Robson Rhodes, which is trying to boost its national practice after dismal results last year. Partner profits collapsed by 20% in the year ended March 1997.

Other Group A firms, including Moores Rowland, have suffered mass defections by partners, leading several observers to comment that mid-tier firms were in turmoil. Last month, Raymond Blin, the new operations head at Baker Tilly, said he believed many firms would go out of business in the next few years.

Robsons’ managing partner Chris Connor, admitted that not all partners would be prepared to increase their financial contribution to the firm. ‘If you invest for the future you have less money to take home today.’

But he added partner profits had increased by 23% in the last year and the firm was ‘determined to be a distinctive, robust and independent business’.

The four partners resigned after a long-running battle with senior management dating back to last September when their attempts to take the Cambridge practice into the Grant Thornton network came to light.

The talks failed and in the aftermath Robsons decided to break up the practice.

Former head of tax, Jeremy Francis, resigned with three colleagues – audit partners John Corbishley and Simon Lowe, and corporate finance partner Keith Middleton – despite a nine-month search for a compromise deal.

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