This article has been reproduced with the permission of Inpractice, a consultancy that works with law firms to help them achieve and manage growth.
From the feedback we receive in listening to FD’s, MD’s and CEO’s it would appear that many law firms are missing a trick by not broadening their business discussions with their corporate clients to engage them more strategically; where there is very often an opportunity to deliver a wider variety of joined up services to generate additional revenue, warrant regular contact and to protect the relationship from increasingly pro-active competitors.

Company secretarial services are just one such area, which we discuss here; but others include corporate finance for commercial clients and financial services for private individuals.  In all these situations, these additional options can – for the right firms and lawyers, who often need help to adapt their view of “relationships” – create new opportunities to establish a more secure source of more business from existing clients and prospects.

On company secretarial services … No professional services firm needs to be told about the merits of a retained client relationship, even more so when competition amongst firms remains as strong as ever; and we have all heard about the costs of winning new business which can be as much as five times greater than the cost of developing an existing client through good account management. With this in mind, it is puzzling that relatively few commercial law firms don’t offer company secretarial services to clients on an ongoing basis – when they are very often part of corporate transactions, a requirement of corporate re-organisations and relevant to commercial litigation.

Typically, firms will address the immediate company secretarial work required to complete a transaction or address a dispute, only to miss an opportunity to manage such work on an ongoing basis for the client. Clearly, it doesn’t make sense to handle such work using fee earners who could command higher hourly rates on other work.

However, there is a strong case to be made to offer fixed fee annual compliance services to clients, even if these are limited to the regulatory filings required by Companies House and their counterparts overseas. There is potential for law firms to outsource company secretarial services, making a direct profit from that work, whilst strengthening their hold on the client’s business at the same time.  This is a good conversation to have – particularly with FD’s who also have demanding administrative company secretarial responsibilities that few enjoy.

An example of the provider of this kind of specialist service capable of developing the right kind of relationship with lawyers and their clients – with no fear of them poaching any legal work – is London Corporate, who work with professional services firms to provide an outsourced or in-house managed company secretarial service on a ‘white label’ basis. These services are supported by business development and pro-active account management on behalf of the instructing lawyers, to engage with clients on a regular basis to perform filings and to manage director and shareholder registers.

This ongoing contact allows lawyers to maintain a foothold within a client’s organisation; also placing the firm in the best possible position to open up new fee generating opportunities when they arise.

The introduction of an outsourced company secretarial service can also be combined with fee earner training on corporate compliance, so they understand the opportunities to offer company secretarial services when they come into contact with the right people at your client as part of their business development and account management activity. This approach also recognises that existing portfolios of company secretarial work may be small or non-existent now.

However, developing a working relationship with partners like London Corporate is a low-risk opportunity to grow new business with confidence in the quality of service. London Corporate are affiliated to the Warwick Legal Network for the provision of pan-European company secretarial compliance where required.