Last night (June 24 2021) saw the inaugural eprivateclient Excellence Awards take place at a virtual gala ceremony. The new Awards are focused exclusively on recognising the outstanding achievements of eprivateclient’s top-ranked firms across the UK and offshore legal, tax, fiduciary and advisory professions over the past calendar year. For the 2021 Awards, 27 finalists made the cut from the 66 firms that started the entry process across 11 categories.
The Awards are exclusively focused on eprivateclient’s core areas for news and analysis – family, offshore and private client law firms (where there are five categories of Awards), private client tax advisory firms (where there are two Awards for 2021 - Private Client Accountancy Firm (Boutique & Large)), trust and fiduciary services providers (with Awards for both independent and listed/bank-owned/private equity-backed firms), wealth planning and investment consultancy firms (one Award apiece).
“We have been delighted by the strength of the response from across our professional community to this new initiative. To have almost two thirds of the firms that qualified to enter this year engaging in the entry process has reinforced our belief that there is a real need for a more rigorous, independent and transparent Awards programme, dedicated to recognising outstanding achievements across the private client advisory professions”, said James Anderson, Chair of the Awards judging panel.
The five awards across the legal sector were the most hotly contested, with almost half of all submissions for the 2021 awards coming in from law firms.
The most vigorously contested was the Private Client Law Firm (large) category, which saw Taylor Wessing crowned as the 2021 winners, with Charles Russell Speechlys and Mishcon de Reya shortlisted and North of England and now Anglo-US stalwarts Womble Bond Dickinson commended.
The eprivateclient Excellence Awards’ judging panel recognised the significant growth over the past year Taylor Wessing had undertaken, including the recruitment of a number of new partners and senior lawyers from BCLP. The panel also highlighted its strong next generation programme and praised the firm’s dignity at work policy which promotes an inclusive culture, respecting differences and treating everyone with dignity and fairness.
The second UK tax focused law firm award – Private Client Law Firm (boutique) – was won by The Burnside Partnership, which has developed significantly since it was founded in 2015, growing from 2 to 27 staff in 6 years. The judging panel was impressed to see that the firm’s lawyers work alongside tax advisers to offer clients tailored advice. This tailored approach is evident in the establishment of The Burnside Partnership for Life, aimed at addressing the needs of younger clients, whilst staff’s wellbeing is provided for through training and regular wellness initiatives.
The UK is often described as the divorce capital of the world thanks to both its judicial system and the high quality matrimonial and family law firms based there. The 2021 eprivateclient Excellence Awards have recognised this depth of quality, with both a Family Law Firm (large) and Family Law Firm (boutique) category.
The 2021 Family Law Firm (large) winner was Mishcon de Reya, with Charles Russell Speechlys and Withers Worldwide both shortlisted. The judging panel praised Mishcon’s strong focus on equality, diversity and inclusion, its future-looking approach to clients' needs (including the launch of an academy for coaching NextGen clients).
The Family Law Firm (boutique) category was won by Manders Law with Yorkshire-based Jones Myers and London firm Peters May shortlisted. The judging panel was impressed by Manders Law’s comprehensive submission, its multi-lingual team and significant and consistent progress since it was founded in 2018. The firm’s submission demonstrated impressive growth, whilst highlighting its expanding services provision to now include surrogacy matters and its green credentials, by operating on a completely paperless files basis.
Away from the UK, the final law firm Award was for the Private Client Offshore Law Firm (multi-jurisdiction). This year’s winner was Carey Olsen, whose submission highlighted its ability to provide clients with a full service legal offering, its excellent charitable work, its strong ESG credentials and development opportunities and initiatives available to the next generation of both clients and offshore lawyers.
As vital to a wealthy client as a solicitor is, it is also incredibly important for clients to turn to the tax advisory and private client accountancy sector for advice. The UK remains an attractive jurisdiction for clients to live and work and – as with the private client legal sector – is home to some of the best tax advisory practitioners globally, providing global cross-border tax advice to billionaires, landowners and footballers amongst many others.
The 2021 eprivateclient Excellence Award for Private Client Accountancy Firm (large) was won by Smith & Williamson with BDO and KPMG shortlisted. Smith & Williamson’s very detailed entry provided excellent detail on client service quality and satisfaction, with a very high net promoter score. The submission highlighted clear achievements, including the advantages of the firm’s successful merger with wealth manager Tilney). The firm also demonstrated an excellent talent management programme, including graduate, apprenticeship and summer internships.
The second award – Private Client Accountancy Firm (boutique) – was won by Rawlinson & Hunter, who triumphed over shortlisted firms Buzzacott and Tax Advisory Partnership. The Awards’ judges praised Rawlinson & Hunter for its thorough submission – with great attention to detail. The firm was also very clear on its achievements over the past year and the submitted case studies highlighted the various processes at the firm.
Wealthy clients have complex, multi-jurisdictional needs in the modern world and the global trust and fiduciary sector plays a vital role in ensuring that clients and their assets are protected and nurtured through generations. The industry has seen both significant growth and consolidation in recent decades, as vast wealth has been generated across the globe and regulatory pressures have increased. The 2021 eprivateclient Excellence Awards included two Award categories to recognise this important sector – independent firms and those that are listed or bank/PE owned.
The winner of the 2021 Private Client Trust Company (listed & bank/PE owned) was JTC Group with Ocorian shortlisted. The judges found that JTC Group’s submission showed the firm had demonstrated significant growth and highlighted its wide range of services, flexible fee arrangements and impressive talent management initiatives, the JTC Academy and JTC Gateway. At the same time the firm was commended for its pledge to become carbon neutral by the end of 2021, as well as its charitable initiatives.
The Private Client Trust Company (independent) saw Crestbridge crowned as the 2021 winners, with Accuro Fiduciary, R & H Trust Co (Jersey) both shortlisted and Highvern and Saffery Champness Registered Fiduciaries commended. Crestbridge’s well-presented submission showed an impressive increase in revenue, whilst the firm created 97 new starters and made 60 promotions and demonstrated a strong focus on staff wellbeing.
The penultimate Award of the night was for Investment Consulting Firm (independent). This was won by Guernsey-based Asset Risk Consultants, with IAM Advisory and JTFM shortlisted. Asset Risk Consultants was commended for its innovation to improve client experience, its core focus on ESG (which includes a commitment to plant one tree for every client report produced) and the firm’s client centric service provision.
The night’s final Award was for Wealth Planning Firm (independent). The award’s inaugural winner was The Private Office. The firm’s submission was praised for its strong case studies and attention to detail, whilst the panel was impressed to see the firm operated with a fixed fee structure and commended its plan for 25 percent of ownership and future distribution of profits to Restore Our Planet. The firm has a demonstrable focus on staff and their wellbeing, whilst the development of the firm’s online proposition has enhanced client experience and the quality of service provided.
The inaugural Awards – attended by over 150 leading practitioners from across the private wealth sector – were presented at a virtual ceremony, complete with champagne, dinner and wines on the evening of 24 June 2021.
The eprivateclient Excellence Awards were kindly supported by Lombard Odier (Lead Sponsor), AP Executive, Berenberg, Close Brothers Asset Management, EFG Private Bank, Investec Wealth & Investments, James Hambro & Partners, Sarasin & Partners, Veritas Investment Partners, and Louis Roederer.