Bromwich spurns Ashurst bonuses in costs war

Ashurst has turned its back on its brand new bonus system, despite profit rebounding 9 per cent after a series of partner sackings.

The firm reinstalled a bonus system for partners last year as an incentive to attract lateral hires and to reward its best-performing partners, but has not used it. The decision reinforces the tough line taken by the firm’s new managing partner Simon Bromwich.

Financial results for 2004-05 revealed that average profit per equity partner (PEP) at the firm bounced back to £567,000, clawing back some of the ground lost in 2003-04, when PEP slumped 11.7 per cent to £521,000.

Bromwich added that, while the figures indicated that the firm’s profitability was improving and similar growth was expected this year, it was not felt necessary to reward partners with bonuses.

Turnover inched up 2 per cent during 2004-05 to reach £201m after remaining steady at £197m during 2003-04.

Remuneration for the firm’s plateau equity partners has, however, increased by £37,000, in line with the firm’s increased profitability.

The equity spread in 2004-05 ranged from £287,000 at the bottom of equity to £718,000 at the top.

However, this was still short of the firm’s remuneration figures in 2002-03, when profit share ranged between £320,000 and £800,000.

Ashurst’s improved financial results follow a successful year for new client wins, including claiming a place on the City section of Abbey’s panel and Reuters’ new slimline panel.

Bromwich also praised the “outstanding” performances of the Paris, Madrid and Milan offices.