Sean Farrell meets Richard Parlour, the entrepreneur and Territorial Army enthusiast who just joined as a financial services partner at Richards Butler
Ask a lawyer what they do in their spare time and the stock reply is almost always: “With work and family, I haven’t got any spare time.”
However, Richard Parlour, Richards Butler’s newly-recruited financial services partner, is surprisingly different, combining fatherhood with action as a member of the armed forces.
But Parlour’s other hobby as an entrepreneur has moved from being something to fill his spare time to affecting the work he does as a lawyer.
About 18 months ago, when Parlour was a senior corporate associate at his previous firm Stephenson Harwood, he and an investment banker friend constructed a business model to look at the reasons people comply with financial regulations so they could predict the behaviour of groups acting in financial markets.
This resulted in the creation of the company Compliance Chain to market their brainchild. Parlour says: “It started off as a hobby, but it’s been recognised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.”
Through his company he was able to bring thousands of pounds-worth of business from Stephenson Harwood to Richards Butler.
This includes a project advising on the restructure of the Czech Republic’s capital market for the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), as the original contract was registered with both Stephenson Harwood and Compliance Chain.
Parlour insists his old firm is happy with the shift, as the business model he constructed was part of the original tender and it helped secure the project.
It appears that his new partners are equally sanguine about the company. “My partners are aware of Compliance Chain and are firmly behind it because they can see it will attract business to the firm,” says Parlour.
In fact, his move to Richards Butler was prompted by his clients. They were insistent that to be in on the big transactions, he needed more corporate support than he was getting at Stephenson Harwood.
Of his former firm, he says: “Stephenson Harwood used to be one of the top 10 firms in London, but it is slipping.
“It still has some very good people but it was time to move on.”
Luckily Parlour’s entrepreneurial ethos is firmly in line with what Richards Butler wants for the firm.
Parlour is the firm’s latest recruit in what Richards Butler hopes will be a long line of appointments to strengthen its corporate and financial services practices, following its aborted merger efforts with Theodore Goddard.
This is also something that attracted Parlour to Richards Butler. He says: “A lot of people have a financial services person who is a receptacle for certain things other people don’t wish to deal with.
“In some firms they sit with litigation, in others they are with corporate, and with others banking. We want to build a financial services practice which is self-sufficient.”
Parlour will specialise in non-contentious financial services work at Richards Butler, advising on matters like the Financial Services Act and regulatory aspects of the Banking Act.
But he is also involved with asset tracing and the detection of fraud, money laundering and insider dealing, on which he has found the time to edit a number of books.
Parlour’s career reads like a partner’s CV of.
He graduated from Cambridge in 1984, spent “a tedious year” at Guildford law school and joined Clifford Chance in 1987, moving to Garrett & Co in 1995 before going to Stephenson Harwood two years ago. But he is not your typical lawyer.
With his close-cropped hair and confident manner, it comes as little surprise that Parlour is involved with the armed forces.
Between leaving Stephenson Harwood and joining his new firm, he spent time at a naval base in Portsmouth and a Scottish RAF base, accompanying pilots flying in Nimrods.
He has also been involved with the auxiliary services for 14 years. Parlour only recently switched to the auxiliary RAF from the Territorial Army Royal Engineers after his unit was disbanded under the Government’s Strategic Defence Review.
This is a source of irritation for Parlour, who says the cost of running his regiment was far outstripped by the savings made on the projects it completed.
He has further objections to the review, but would need “clearance” to air these, he says.
Yet this seemingly aggressive side is combined with his heavy involvement with the cathedral at St Albans. Parlour is chairman of the mission committee, which “looks at ways to spread the word”.
Parlour explains that as an auxiliary Royal Engineer he was involved with building roads and other projects rather than destroying things. But he admits: “I did the demolition of an ambulance station once, which was fun.”
Parlour says this stopped short of actually blowing the building up. “They wouldn’t let us, because it was in the middle of Aylesbury,” he says.
Financial services partner