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‘Tight controls’: LLP filings show strict financial management helps boost Simmons profitability

Benefitting from a resurgence of financial work in the City in 2014/15, Simmons & Simmons acted prudently to boost its profitability and reduce debt, its LLP filing shows.

In its latest accounts with Companies House the firm said despite revenue surging 8% for the 12 months to 30 April 2015 to hit £288.9m it continued to ‘maintain tight controls on costs, with a particular focus on lock-up management’. This turnover rise was generated with fewer staff, as total headcount across Simmons’ network dropped 5% from 1,428 to 1,363 last year.

This, combined with a string of highly profitable litigation instructions and a barrage stemming from the implementation of the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) in the UK to limit the leverage of funds, resulted in profits available for partner distribution increasing 22% to £77.2m last year.

The top earner at the firm pocketed £1.2m during the financial year, up 20% on the £1m achieved by the highest-earning member in 2013/14. This figure in the LLP accounts does not necessarily equate to the highest paid equity partner and can relate to ‘golden handshakes’ to retiring members.

While partners were rewarded for their improved performance and investment arrived in the form of a Luxembourg launch in early 2015 targeting financial services work, a large slice of the higher income went towards paying off debt. Net debt at the end of April 2015 was down by £2.2m on the year before at £22.6m.

The financial markets group, which accounted for 40% of firm revenues last year, netted an additional £10m to achieve £115.5m in income during 2014/15. The dispute resolution group made strong gains too, rising 13% to £93m.

The corporate and commercial group was the only practice group to report a dip in revenue, nearly £2m down at £57.7m. Managing partner Jeremy Hoyland recently told Legal Business that the group continues to struggle and has set out plans to shift the firm’s focus and resources away from corporate work towards faster-growing areas such as investigations, regulatory, IP, fintech and real estate funds.

Recent LLP filings from other firms show the highest paid member at DLA Piper took home almost £2m, while at Stephenson Harwood the figure was £1.3m during the last financial year, and at Fieldfisher the payout was £1.24m.