Fides Weekly Update – 29th October 2015

Hello and welcome to the Fides Weekly Update, your round-up of the week’s legal and business news as compiled by our Research team.

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This week:

1) The Rise of the accountancy firms

PwC Legal is mounting a significant threat to the legal services industry with annual revenues surpassing £40 million despite the firm only receiving its ABS license 18 months ago. This increase in turnover by 15% puts the firm at number 65 in the UK’s top 200 legal practices, as compiled by The Lawyer, with the accountancy firm aiming to reach the UK top 20 by 2019.

PwC is not the only accountancy firm to launch a legal offering with both EY and KPMG launching Alternative Business Structures in late 2014 and hiring aggressively from other firms. In May, EY launched a financial regulatory practice with an 11-strong team hires from Baker & McKenzie and Weil Gotshal & Manges, and has since committed to doubling its headcount from 30 lawyers to 60 within a year.

2) Clifford Chance rejuvenates German offering

Clifford Chance has moved to strengthen its German practice with the appointment of Freshfields global co-head of energy and natural resources Anselm Raddatz, after the decision was taken to strategically review operations in the country last year.

Since then a number of high-profile partners have left the firm including banking and capital markets head Alexandra Hagelüken, private equity head Olivier Felsenstein and former corporate head Arndt Stengel.

Raddatz will be based in Düsseldorf and will co-head the firm’s German corporate group. He will also be a member of the firm’s global corporate leadership group, The Lawyer reports.

3) Barclays reveals new CEO

As one of the worst kept secrets in finance, Barclays this week announced ex-JP Morgan banker Jes Staley as its new CEO. He replaces Antony Jenkins, who was ousted in July after three years of attempting to restore Barclays’ fortunes following the Libor-rigging scandal. Staley had been considered for the role prior to Jenkins appointment in 2012 to replace former CEO Bob Diamond, another US investment banker.

Staley joins Barclays amid the banks restructuring, which is expected to result in 19,000 job cuts and the scaling back of investment banking operations, as well as the implementation of ringfencing plans to separate investment and retail banking functions.

Yesterday the bank reported a 10% fall in third-quarter profits to £1.43bn and announced that it had set aside a further £560m for more customer refunds and litigation.

4) Talk Talk hacked whilst M&S leaked

Events of last week proved why cybersecurity remains hot on boardroom agendas as the news broke that TalkTalk had been hit with a cyber-attack, which may have led to the theft of personal data belonging to over 4 million customers. On Wednesday, Marks & Spencer’s website also experienced technical glitches as customer details were exposed online, highlighting a serious breach in privacy and data security.

These incidents are a stark reminder of the vulnerability businesses face in this informational age, and the financial and reputational risk of not protecting customer data as The Independent reports.

5) 33% women on boards but quotas unwarranted according to Davies

Thursday saw the release of the Davies review, the five year summary of the government’s Women on Boards reports, which raised the target for FTSE 100 companies to reach 33% female board representation by 2020.

Although companies had reached a ‘major milestone’ in meeting a voluntary target of 25% women board members, more needs to be done to improve female representation. Talking to the BBC, Lord Davies said a significant push is now needed to be made in order to capitalise on the progress made so far. Measures such as more female representation on executive committees and a higher proportion of women in senior and middle management positions were suggested to ensure the pipeline for future female board members, although the report stops short of gender quotas which are considered ‘unwarranted’. This is in contrast to other countries across the EU, Germany adopting legally binding quotas in March which required major companies to allocate 30% of seats on non-executive boards to women.

Until next week,

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