It is important to honour and reflect the values of the past but at the same time move forward as a firm in order to help maintain and grow a positive working culture, Daniel Sopher, senior partner at Sopher +Co, told an audience of young practitioners at the fifth eprivateclient Leadership Insight Seminar in London this week (19/09/2017).
Speaking at law firm Penningtons Manches’ London office, Mr Sopher, who took over as senior partner three years ago following the death of the accountancy firm’s founder Ivan Sopher, said the firm - which his father 40 years ago established at Elstree Studios (then home of Star Wars and Superman among other blockbuster films) and later also in Mayfair - had slowly built a reputation for working with HNW entrepreneurs and owner managed businesses.
However in the last five to ten years the firm has doubled in size and now has more than 100 staff and a number of changes have been made since Daniel Sopher took over.
Clients, Mr Sopher explained, just want to know what they need to do and the firm provides face to face advice on tax issues and accounting and although HMRC’s Making Tax Digital will make the whole firm change and provide more automated advice, having advisers who understand different types of clients and their differing needs was key
Fostering a positive working environment and culture needs a balance of staff offering clients a variety of skills and Mr Sopher said the firm now looked for people with “emotional intelligence” not just technical acumen.
“We need smart people but solutions are not always found in tax books or on Google,” he said, adding that the firm has staff who understand the needs and issues facing clients.
Being able to empathise with clients was something that the firm was well positioned to do as it faces “the same problems as our clients do as we too are an entrepreneurial business.”
“I inherited the firm so can talk the talk about succession planning,” Mr Sopher explained, adding that there are “some things that cannot be taught in law or accountancy school.”
Within the firm Mr Sopher said the firm “wants people to enjoy work” and provides employees with the opportunity to work with clients in all aspects of advice. “We don’t pigeonhole people - we do not have dedicated private client, corporate or landed estate teams but staff experienced in all areas.”
Another strategy that has also helped the firm build a positive culture was the hiring of more older people and the balance of young and old is “healthy and they learn from each other.”
At the same time Mr Sopher said the firm had adopted an open plan office which allows staff to “listen and learn and pipe up and offer alternative advice where they see fit.”
This, he said, creates a healthy culture and one which people come back to with around 25 percent wanting to return to the firm after two years.
Mr Sopher was speaking at the fifth eprivateclient Leadership Insight Seminar sponsored by Ruffer LLP and held at Penningtons Manches’ London office.
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