Walkers’ management rejig lays bare aspiration to build global presence

Offshore firm Walkers is reaffirming its commitment to a global footprint as it undergoes a management shake-up.

Grant Stein
Grant Stein

The firm’s current global chairman Wayne Panton is set to retire in July this year. He will be replaced by Grant Stein, currently global ­managing partner.

Stein will in turn be replaced by Diarmad Murray, who will also continue in his position as managing partner of Walkers’ Cayman Islands office.

The management rejig comes two years after a ­radical overhaul of Walkers’ management structure, in which the firm reorganised into five practice-focused divisions.

Stein and Murray said they hoped to continue Walkers’ recent growth. The firm has expanded significantly in the past decade, growing from a firm with offices in Cayman and ­London to one with ­presences in jurisdictions including Hong Kong, ­Jersey and most recently Delaware and Ireland.

“A lot of our major clients have expanded rapidly and globally and we’ve been ­fortunate enough to be able to help them,” Stein said of the firm’s globalisation ­programme.

Murray added that clients are now more likely to ask for global advice than ­previously.

The duo said the opening of the Dublin and Delaware offices in 2010 was a reflection of the changing environment for offshore firms, leading to more demand for onshore advice than before the financial crisis.

“With our Irish capability our strategy takes on a slightly different dynamic,” Stein said. “We’ll be looking at locations and the ability to practise Irish law in our existing branches, but potentially in some new branches.”

He added that expansion would likely be in growing economies, particularly in Asia. Brazil and Russia are also areas where Walkers is directing its attention, although it is not yet present in either jurisdiction.

“We have focus groups at the moment that are very active in relation to these markets,” revealed Stein.

Murray said the firm was busy across several practice areas, particularly investment funds and finance.

“It’s a fairly rosy picture at the moment – it’s looking pretty good,” he added.

In addition to taking over the global managing ­partner role Murray will continue to focus on developing the ­Cayman office’s support functions.

Last year this resulted in the recruitment of Neil Sherlock as chief financial officer and David Smailes as chief information and technology officer.

Murray said the firm was moving to put IT and finance support staff on the ground in Europe and Asia as well as in the Caribbean.

The management shake-up also sees Jonathan Tonge, currently managing partner with responsibility for Walkers’ practice groups based in Cayman, swap jobs with Dublin-based Ian Ashman, currently managing partner for regions. Tonge will relocate to Jersey, where he will take over from ­retiring managing partner Hugh O’Loughlin.

Stein said the firm felt the regional managing partner role would be better suited to a partner based in a ­European timezone.

He added that it was important to have some of the executive management team based in a wider range of locations.