PracticeAccounting FirmsThe corridors of power…

The corridors of power...

I experienced a sense of deja vu when I called in at the Baker Street office of BDO Stoy Hayward recently. It brought back memories of a visit in 1992 when plain old Stoy Hayward was having rather a sticky time of things.

The client list included: Roger Levitt, Polly Peck, Sock Shop, Astra Holdings (as in Supergun), Citygrove (as in failed property developer). You get the picture.

Back then, I interviewed Adrian Martin, then managing partner, and Dermot Mathias, marketing partner, and was struck by their tenacity in the face of adversity.

Stoys was facing its own ‘Andersen’. This was a London-based firm with a large proportion of family-run business clients. Any major client defections would have left it dead in the water.

It is a credit to Mathias, now senior partner (and sporting the same magnificent head of hair), and Jeremy Newman, managing partner, that the firm has stayed the course. Fee income is set to top £200m this year. The firm is even rumoured to be seeking a new London headquarters after nearly 20 years at Baker Street.

The acquisition of Numerica’s Southampton office gives Stoys a huge foothold in the south of England and further diversifies it away from its London roots.

It could all go pear-shaped of course, but Mathias says the experiences of the early 1990s has left the firm wiser and stronger. Martin, meanwhile, is now chief executive of Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, the law firm.

Stoys worked on the principle that small-fry clients would grow into bigger fish.

Too bad, then about the retail client who ditched them in their darkest hour – one Philip Green, then running Amber Day. You can’t win ’em all.

Jon Ashworth is business features editor at The Times

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