HKFsi hires COO in bid to integrate merged firm

HowardKennedyFsi (HKFsi) has turned to property search specialists Strutt & Parker for the hire of its first chief operating officer (COO).

Accountant Ian Harvey has joined the firm with immediate effect, following the shock exit of chief executive Mark Dembovsky, the driving force behind the Howard Kennedy and Finers Stephens Innocent tie-up, in November (14 November 2013).

Harvey will join former FSI managing partner Paul Millett and litigation head Craig Emden, a former Howard Kennedy partner, on the firm’s management executive group. 

A major part of his role will be driving the firm’s strategy and tackling any longstanding issues at the firm, which is spread across two London bases. Equity partners were presented with a series of ideas drawn out by Harvey last week, with some of the issues at the merged firm understood to include partner disunity and a lack of communication between the two sets of legacy lawyers and staff.

“I have spent a few weeks engaging with the support services and fee earners to help build on the strategy foundations already in place,” Harvey said in a statement.  

Harvey takes on the role from Strutt & Parker, where he was head of finance. He was previously the COO of real estate giant CBRE and an equity partner at BDO, where he formed a professional practices group.

His move ends months of management limbo at the firm following Dembovsky’s exit. Dembovsky oversaw a wave of changes at the firm (25 February 2013) – one of his first moves was to invite all non-equity partners to reclassify with self-employed status in a bid to integrate partners into the business (25 March 2013).

Howard Kennedy formally merged with Finers Stephens Innocent in January (31 January 2013) and as part of the integration of the firm salaried partners were invited to join the combined equity pool (25 March 2013).

The expansion of the equity partnership at HowardKennedyFSI cut average profit per equity partner (PEP) at the combined firm by almost half to £128,092 last year (24 July 13).