Legal Business Blogs

WFW not ‘singing from the rooftops’ as it defies pandemic blues to post revenue and profit uptick

Watson Farley & Williams is the latest City firm to post robust revenue and profit figures in the face of adversity in the 2019/20 financial year. 

The firm said yesterday (29 July) that fee income was up 4% to £179.6m from last year’s £172.3m as profit per equity partner (PEP) saw a 3% uplift to £577,000 from £562,000. Profit was up a respectable 13% on last year to £53.7m from £47.5m, capping off a bullish set of results. 

Co-managing partner Chris Lowe (right) told Legal Business: ‘Sectors remain the core focus of our strategy and continue to deliver stable, manageable, quality growth.  These  are not jump-up-in-the-air and sing-from-the-rooftops numbers but we are hitting PEP and turnover increases in a consistent way.’ 

He stressed the importance for the firm’s management to keep a close eye on the direction of travel and said WFW would not deviate from its sector focus. ‘We are still a transport, energy and real estate business and that will not change. People will always need transport and energy. Renewables continues to dominate the energy sector and remains a priority for us.’ 

Fellow managing partner Lothar Wegener (left) flagged the firm’s Spanish office as one of the highest performing in terms of growth and noted the energy practice has become a cohesive, multi-office practice comparable to transport. The aviation business accounted for three of the six new partners from the latest promotion round, a reflection of the firm’s investment in that sector.  

‘We are as well positioned in a worldwide economic crisis as we were before coronavirus happened, so we didn’t think we needed to reconsider our strategy or impose salary cuts or promotion freezes,’ he said. 

He added that the Munich office adopted a fully agile working practice even before the pandemic, making it easier to roll out flexible working across other offices. He said that engagement was taking place to define how people would change their working practices to adapt for the new normal’.