This isn’t a throwback to Frankie Goes to Hollywood, but an announcement from the SRA that from Autumn 2018 the rules governing where solicitors may practise and how their accounts are managed will be relaxed a little. Solicitors will be able to work within unauthorised businesses, and the rules handbook will be cut right back to a more basic form. Client monies will, with some necessary governance, be able to be managed by Third Parties.
The Law Society aren’t happy with the proposals as they fear the impact of potentially less compliant behaviours, with their concerns also focusing on the issues of indemnity insurance and cover for ‘consumers’ in the new regime.
From my experience in dealing with hundreds of legal sector businesses over the years, I believe the Law Society’s concerns will be largely unfounded. I’ve spoken with one man band firms, with traditional ‘high street’ firms, with huge multi-national practises, with regional powerhouses and with ABS businesses, and a common theme is that the people in charge want to do a good job for their clients. The vast majority of them appreciate that delivering great service of necessity has boundaries to behaviours and client treatment, and act accordingly.
There is also increasing concern within the sector about security and accounts accuracy. Cyber threat and internal fraud are damaging for the bank balance but also for reputation. But more than that, with improvements in systems and their cost, far more firms are operating quality accounts packages and value immensely the data they can derive from their system reports to manage their businesses in a more sophisticated and fact-based way.
Businesses have an increasing awareness (possibly following the horrors of the recession) that the accuracy of their accounts day to day forms the backbone of their decision making processes, as well as simply allowing the partners/business owners to sleep a little more peacefully at night! It’s one of the reasons our client base is growing so rapidly, as the security and certainty provided by 9-5 everyday service with highly experienced cashiers handling the accounts becomes better understood and valued.
Our friends at Armstrong Watson have produced a good, concise view on the proposed changes, linked here.
For us, our clients and for the legal sector in general, anything which simplifies is usually a good thing, since clear understanding of the rules should lead to better compliance, and hence to what we all want- the best possible client experience.
Alex Holt, Director of Business Development at The Cashroom Ltd