Accountants eye complex legal services
The trend towards accountancy firms offering legal services could grow to encompass more traditional law firm practices such as M&A and corporate advisory.
Marc Totaro, national manager, professional services at Commonwealth Bank, said the push into legal services was clearly evident in the recently released CommBank Accounting Market Pulse.
“The talk at the moment is, the big accounting firms in particular are looking to move into legal services in a bigger way,” Mr Totaro said.
“They’re really looking to move into the M&A, corporate advisory type work in a more aggressive manner.
“I think they see the opportunity to provide a broader service to existing client bases. There is also potential there for them to take market share from traditional law firms.”
Geraldine Magarey, leader of policy and thought leadership at Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, said accounting firms are moving into legal services to meet the demands of their clients.
“It just shows the evolution of the accounting profession,” Ms Magarey said.
“I really just see it as the profession continuing to evolve. Those initial things it was built on are still very important, but with the global nature of clients and also as a lot of the technical areas mould together, people look for an overall service.”
According to Ms Magarey, the trend lately has been for accounting firms to move into “fairly niche” areas of law that complement their existing offering, but in future she expects most firms to widen their range of services within the legal space.
“Firms are starting to ramp up and some of the firms that haven’t been involved are now getting involved,” she said. “But I still think at the moment it's going to be in those service lines that are at the margin, not into the traditional areas of the law firm.”
Ms Magarey added that accounting firms will continue to monitor client expectations to see which legal services are in demand and to re-evaluate their own offering accordingly.
“It will be interesting to see where they go,” she said.