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Withers is to launch a consultancy group following client demand for a service that will help family-run businesses resolve arguments.
Withers Consulting Group (WCG) will launch in April and will be led by former Withers partner Amelia Renkert-Thomas, who is based in America, and UK-based family consultant Kenneth McCracken. Up to 10 more consultants are expected to join the group in the next few years.
McCracken explained that there is a need for a consultancy service in this area because businesses run by families and families connected by a variety of assets can go through various complications when they go through a generational transition.
“We were seeing more and more clients getting into these situations and asking us for advice,” Wither’s managing director Margaret Robertson told The Lawyer. “One of the recommendations asking us to do this service came out of the Singapore office, for example, as the transition between first and second generation businesses is happening now in Asia. We’ll definitely hire [a consultant] there.”
Although the group will technically be based in London, most consultants will work remotely. Renkert-Thomas, for example, will continue to be based in the US. An Asia hire might also work closely with the firm’s Singapore office, which launched last year (17 February 2012).
In a statement Withers said the group will not be providing concierge, compliance or banking advice and will not be managing assets or competing with multi-family offices. Instead, the group will be about resolving “issues and identifying future risks that could undermine the future success and harmony of both their businesses and the family itself”.
Withers’ tax, private wealth and family groups grew during the 2011/12 financial year, contributing £58m to firmwide turnover, the equivalent of 51 per cent of the total. In the family team, Hong Kong-based Rita Ku and Stacey Devoy joined the partnership during 2011/12.
Last year also saw the firm ordered to pay £100,000 to a former client after the High Court found it had been negligent in advice over a Chelsea property purchase (31 May 2012).