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Financials 2017: Ashurst boosts revenues 7% after year of departures and disappointing financial results

Ashurst has improved its revenues by 7%, following last year’s disappointing financial results, with an 11% boost to its profits per equity partner (PEP).

The firm’s revenues for the 2016/17 year were £541m, up from £505m the year previous when the firm saw a 10% decrease. That dip was the second on record for the firm following its merger with Australian firm Blake Dawson in 2013, when revenues fell4% to £561m from £568m. 2017 PEP rose to £672,000 after a 19% drop in 2015/16, when numbers plummeted from £747,000 to £603,000.

Ashurst managing partner Paul Jenkins and chief financial and operations officer Jan Gooze-Zijl, told Legal Business that the firm had been working on driving profitable revenue, improving financial discipline and restructuring Rome and Stockholm offices. It had been consolidating client contracts to operate for the global business and focusing on the firm’s innovation platform, Ashurst Advance, to improve its financial results.

Jenkins added: ‘I’ve been in the role now since 1 June 2016. I set myself, the management team and the partnership some clear targets that we wanted to achieve over the financial year. I have been constantly communicating those to the partnership and driving those goals to create a higher performance culture and ensuring our remuneration is aligned to that culture.’

Asked whether the firm expected to reach its revenue levels before it merged with Blake Dawson in 2013 again, Jenkins said: ‘We’re a smaller firm than we were back in 2013/14 prior to the consolidation of the two firms. It did lead to some significant integration costs.’

‘We saw what the consequences were of those in the financial year prior to FY 17. We’ve now got through that period and we’re starting to reap the benefits of a stronger firm.’

‘Partners are working well together globally and there is higher engagement and a real positive momentum in the firm which is reflected by our results,’ Jenkins said.

The firm saw a number of partner exits across its international network during the 2016/17 financial year. The firm’s partner headcount dropped by 23 over that period to 386, a 6% dip.

In June, Ashurst lost a five-lawyer team from its Paris arm to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, led by litigation and restructuring partner Jean-Pierre Farges. The move came only four months after the departure of a five-partner team from the firm’s Paris office to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Last August, Ashurst partners voted through changes to its remuneration system in a bid to retain star partners.

The shake up added an extra 10 points, worth around £150,000, to the top of the equity ladder, which starts at 25 points. The top of the ladder now plateaus at 75 points, while the bottom remains unchanged.

The firm also introduced a performance-based bonus pool for both equity and non-equity partners.