By Emma Ryan
An Australian boutique has just marked its five-year anniversary, following a decision by former top-tier partners to integrate legal, compliance and financial advisory services under the one roof.
Sydney-based boutique Ash St. opened up shop in October 2013, with the aim to set a new precedent in professional services. From the get-go, its founders were focused on establishing a new offering in the market that would see clients able to gain access to a broad range of services, instead of purely legal advice.
“This initial collaboration and brainstorming generated a professional services organisation, Ash St., with a key mantra of integrating differing professional disciplines, not just law, into client solutions. Why? Because business problems do not present themselves exclusively as legal problems or any other problem in a single discipline. Businesses have business problems that need business solutions,” Ash St. director and one of the founding partners, Peter Shaw, told Lawyers Weekly.
“Ash St.’s response is to bring together experienced and highly capable professionals from varied backgrounds and disciplines to consider a business problem and to structure an agile commercial solution.
“Today, Ash St. is able to harness input from legal, management consulting, tax, governance, compliance and regulatory professionals.”
While Mr Shaw acknowledged that the setting up phase wasn’t always easy, he said the firm’s “new way” principle “has worked very well with excellent client outcomes, satisfying work and is proving to be a sustainable financial model”.
“Ash St. continues to provide tailored solutions to its clients and routinely scans the market to ensure that its suite of solutions are aligned to clients’ needs. The whole ethos of being a ‘new way’ requires the team to keep challenging themselves to think about what our clients want and need today and what is coming next. For example, 12 months ago, Ash St. entered into a strategic partnerships with leading provider of e-learning regulatory and compliance solutions, GRC Solutions,” he explained.
“This was a deliberate move by Ash St. having identified a need and opportunity to deliver integrated legal, compliance and financial advisory services.
“We’ve noticed other competing firms offering the same suite of solutions to the market, five years later – we are forward thinkers with the ability to foresee the needs of our clients (and the market) before others do. This is our key point of differentiation.”
Ultimately, Mr Shaw said the mission his firm has is to remain relevant to clients by continuously providing value.
“Our observation is that others in the market claim to provide integrated advice but often have a siloed approach which doesn’t follow through on that promise,” he said.
“We are true to label and focus on clients’ broader objectives – finding commercially viable, practical solutions to immediate needs and reaching out to engage with our clients when there are market movements/changes that may affect our clients or perhaps offer up new opportunities they may not have considered. Our clients, past and present are always front of mind.”
Further, Mr Shaw said a focus on making sure the firm has the right people and the right culture is paramount to its success both now and in the future.
“… Our mantra is that everyone is hands on. Everyone is a worker and rolls up their sleeves. Everyone is responsible for being responsive and communicating clearly and we believe our clients value our approach and appreciate dealing with the one business representative from end-to-end,” he said.
“At the same time everyone is responsible for listening to our clients, seeking their feedback, looking to understand their businesses, scanning the market to identify opportunities and assess the evolving needs of our clients, present and future, to ensure that we are providing them with premium solutions.
“Most recently, we were made aware of other firms emulating our approach, going as far as to source talent from overseas – particularly for compliance and risk. There’s clearly a scarcity in the Australian market for this kind of expertise. We have lawyers with deep experience in Australian regulatory regime – governance, compliance and risk – with established relationships with key regulators – to the benefit of our clients.
“This also extends to recruitment and attracting premium talent. We are therefore delighted to advise that Samantha Carroll has joined Ash St. as a governance, compliance and regulatory expert. Samantha worked for 10 years’ in the governance and compliance division of a top tier law firm and three years as the head of compliance for a mid-tier bank and so brings with her significant practical experience of which we believe our clients will value.”
On conclusion, Mr Shaw noted: “We may not have the big budgets and shiny offices like other major law firms but we make up for that through our drive and passion to achieve the best possible outcome for our clients. We provide high value without clients needing to take out a loan to pay us yet they deal with senior lawyers and former partners of top tier law firms”.