Macfarlanes is advising longstanding client Smith & Williamson on its potential IPO. The advice is being led by partner Tim Lewis.
The investment manager and accountant is considering a £300m float later this year. The float will be watched closely by senior partners at UK law firms, which will also be allowed to float once the Legal Services Bill is passed.
Smith & Williamson has a wide range of businesses, making it difficult to make direct comparisons with law firms. Its largest business activity is private client investment management, followed by tax advice.
The accountant has also been fully incorporated since 2002 and already has a significant third-party investor in Canadian investment management company AGF.
“In a sense we’re already a long way down the path to a float,” said Smith & Williamson chairman Gareth Pierce. “Many of the major cultural and reward issues have already largely been dealt with. That means that, if we do decide to do it, there will not be a huge cultural shift in the way that it might be for a law firm.”
Despite this, if the deal goes ahead it will be seen as a trailblazer for the prospective market in law firm flotations next year.