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‘I was impressed by the firm’: Farrer & Co turns to CMS Cameron McKenna financial control chief to boost growth

Private client-focused firm Farrer & Co has made concerted efforts to polish its growth strategy, and has recruited CMS Cameron McKenna‘s head of financial control Julian Eastlake to develop the firm’s financial direction in a bid to optimise profits and sustain the growth of the partnership.

Having joined Cameron McKenna from accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers’ UK arm in 2009, Eastlake was responsible for leading the firm’s financial accounting, as well as delivering its annual budget process, and production of monthly profit and loss reporting for the Board and management. He also had oversight of tax compliance and of partners’ tax affairs, and assessed the firm’s back-office sourcing options, recommending it outsource 70% of support functions.

It also led to the firm’s deal with outsourcing provider Integreon, the largest of its kind worth just under £600m, in May 2010 where the firm outsourced its entire support staff function, including finance, human resources and IT. It further made roughly 9% of its support staff redundant and relocated another 21% to either Bristol or India. Last year, the firm subsequently scaled back its staff outsourcing agreement with Integreon just three years into its ten-year contract.

Eastlake started at the City-based Farrer & Co earlier this month and is working in an estimated 18-strong team. He has been tasked with engaging and motivating the partnership to understand key commercial issues including effective pricing and matter management policies. Further responsibilities include providing financial analysis and insight to all stakeholders including recommendations for improvements, efficiencies or potential business opportunities.

The deployment of Eastlake comes as the firm this year recorded modest financial results, with revenue flat at £50.7m, which still constitutes a 25% increase since 2009, and a 3% rise in profit per equity partner to £440,000.

On his move, Eastlake told Legal Business: ‘I was impressed by the firm and the people I met during the interview process. My role at CMS was reasonably broad but it was within a larger firm and a larger team. There were some limitations in that capacity as to what I could do. Here, I feel I will have broader scope, and the ability to work more closely with partners and with the firm’s direct strategy. It’s a flatter structure, if you like, than it was at CMS’.

Other prominent hires of late includes experienced trial lawyer and property litigation partner Siobhan Jones from Penningtons Manches who joined the disputes team in July.