Annual. Review. Our big opportunity is to do things differently. Andrew Leaitherland, Managing Partner and CEO

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1 Annual Review Our big opportunity is to do things differently Andrew Leaitherland, Managing Partner and CEO Including financial statements for the year ending 30 April 2014

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3 Contents In this review Growing our clients businesses 2 Alan Benzie Disrupting to progress 4 Andrew Leaitherland Highlights 6 Clear account 8 Alex Hodgson Looking over the horizon 10 Paul Berry Going further for our clients 11 Clifton Harrison Sector focus 12 Steffan Groch Producing the right result 13 Ian Slater Lean law 14 Natalie Griffin & Darren Cunningham The DWF constant 16 Deborah Abraham Striving for excellence 17 Deborah Abraham Strategic board 18 Law firm Richard Hodkinson Empowering people 21 Catherine Williams Engaging communities 22 Ty Jones Going further 25 Financial review Members report 28 Members responsibilities statement 30 Independent auditor s report 31 Group profit & loss account 32 Group and LLP balance sheets 33 Group cash flow statement 34 Notes to the financial statements 35 Annual Review

4 Growing our clients businesses Many people in the legal profession are looking to see whether we re going to trip up. They have been surprised at the speed, scale and sustainability of our growth. Alan Benzie Chairman But, increasingly, they also recognise that the DWF brand is here to stay that we re certainly not a flash in the pan, says Alan Benzie. It s a confident summary of the firm s position from a chairman with great pride in what s been achieved during 2013/14. His upbeat, but rounded, perspective sets the firm s successes against the backdrop of a changing, challenging market. The insurance sector, for example, has become heavily commoditised with clients demanding more. They want keenly priced, quality work delivered efficiently. Litigation work has cooled because people are more focused on the opportunities to make money rather than suing each other for money, while banking & corporate and real estate have performed well this year. In general, it feels like a market that has turned and we re in a good position to take advantage of this on the transactional side through the investments we ve made in the business, says Alan. He attributes much of DWF s progress to the strategic focus on people and IT, as well as a drive to simply get things done. He also alludes to DWF s philosophy of always trying to see things from the clients perspective: always aiming to deliver beyond expectations. A lot of what the firm does is, according to Alan, stating the obvious. A comment he quickly qualifies with a typically direct explanation: The difference is that we put our money where our mouth is. We understand our clients businesses and we work in partnership with them. We help them to get where they want to go. The firm s capabilities and skills underpin its ability to deliver in this way and there s reassuring proof of their effectiveness. We re often praised for client care and technical abilities in comparison with key competitors, confirms Alan. Despite the lack of growth in the revenue run rate, this year s results echo the strength of client satisfaction and net promoter scores. It s the consistency of performance that counts with the increase in Equity Partner profits once again tipping 22%. As with every other aspect of the business, none of this happens by chance. We deliberately budgeted for managed growth so we could get everybody onto the same platform and integrated. That s what we ve achieved, comments Alan. He adds that the M&A activity and the level of lateral hires over the last few years create a powerful position from which to capitalise on future growth prospects in the market. 2

5 The ambition is to leverage the firm s current stable base and shift it up the rankings to a top 15 firm, but it s never simply about the financials. We want to go further through mutually successful partnerships with our clients because that s how things should be done. The growth strategy combines extending the firm s footprint in existing key sectors with a selective, opportunistic focus on niche markets. There will also be M&A activity and further lateral hires where appropriate. The underlying principle remains to only do the things that add quality and depth to the overall offering. Geographically, the objective is to utilise the firm s regional footprint, and given the recent move, a focus on London. This market is important in helping us to achieve our target to be a top three insurance firm, and in allowing us to continue to invest in our commercial services division. There s no one else with the bench strength that we have across the M62 corridor and further north. The move to the iconic Walkie Talkie building is at the heart of the London strategy. It delivers a more partner-heavy population, supported by the agile working agenda made possible through recent technology enhancements and North Shoring. Investing in the new London office is a smart, cost-efficient way to achieve the brand penetration DWF is seeking. However, Alan is quick to point out that it will not become the firm s headquarters. Referencing the speed of the firm s exponential growth, Alan says DWF is still developing. There s clearly room for further development, but as he points out: The priority is to get the priorities right. In the meantime he s clearly impressed by the amazing achievements of the last 18 months. The explanation is obvious even before Alan voices it: We have great people in every area of the firm. The support management team is as important as the practice teams. We maintain a healthy tension between the two and that s positive. In summary: It s about growing our clients businesses and our people s capabilities. We understand our clients businesses and we work in partnership with them. We help them to get where they want to go. Alan Benzie Annual Review

6 Disrupting to progress Andrew Leaitherland Managing Partner & CEO It s unusual to hear the Managing Partner and CEO of a law firm talking about technology with a belief and a commitment that border on passion, but listening to Andrew Leaitherland, there is no hint of anomaly. It s quickly apparent that technology underpins DWF s way of working. It s about doing things differently. Not for the sake of it, of course, but because this is what gives the firm its competitive edge. A significant investment in technology over the past year has delivered considerable benefit. I m really proud of the work we ve done on the technology side. It s a powerful enabler for our people and for our clients, comments Andrew. First, Andrew mentions rubix and Yammer. rubix is the firm s new intranet that allows DWF s people to access whatever systems they need to for their job. They can access client files and the QlikView management information tool, or book accommodation and travel. Yammer, our firm-wide social media platform, gives everyone an equal voice. It is, he says, the best tool we have. Then he refers to the new website. It s a shop window designed principally to give clients access to information that matters to them: the makeup of DWF teams; the work these individuals have done together; and other clients opinions of the firm. All these initiatives were delivered in a little over nine months. It s an impressive pace that reflects the firm s underlying drive. Following on from the M&A activity of 2012/13, this year the firm has added 39 lateral hires across the business and a 47-strong team to its insurance offering. You ve got to get on with things because you don t know what s around the corner. You can t rest on your laurels, says Andrew. However, one of the unforeseen consequences of so much M&A and transactional activity has been less capacity to focus on internal business improvement issues. Some of the projects we launched to make the business better such as defining roles and responsibilities and measuring contribution went on the back burner, says Andrew. Arguably, this is business critical. It is certainly vital in ensuring the firm can deliver on its promises. Three years in the making, the defining roles and measuring contribution project was launched into the business this year. One of the big questions for me has always been what does good look like? So, we built a competency framework that allows us to measure someone s contribution against a shared understanding of what good should look like for our people at all levels. To support this initiative, the firm has created the DWF Academy an online learning and development tool, which provides access to modular training. The objective is to empower people to develop themselves. As Andrew points out: It s better than waiting to be tapped on the shoulder by a line manager. It s about taking personal responsibility because, at an individual level, this is the governance model that supports the success of the business. Equally, if not more, important than speed is the quest for improvement. This is hardwired into the current business strategy where the relevant line reads: That which we did six months ago is no longer good enough. This, says Andrew, is the culture that s been created at DWF. It s about people constantly wanting to do things better, he says. It s a telling insight into the significance of culture and values to which a lot of attention has been paid over the past 12 months. As Andrew explains it would have been very easy to impose the legacy DWF culture on all new joiners, but that might have left 1,300 individuals disengaged and disenfranchised. Better to bring people together with a common bond, ethos and culture. Hence the launch of the culture deck a substantial exercise designed to capture the essence of DWF and define how it should be represented externally. Everyone in the firm was invited to contribute their views. The outcome was a set of new values that were collectively created and that are, therefore, collectively owned. It s been compelling says Andrew: The level of involvement and buy-in we received for that exercise was one of my highlights of last year. 4

7 The values work directly impacts perceptions of the brand which, it seems, have improved. Andrew points to a narrowing of the brand lag of a couple of years ago and the comparatively fewer DW who? comments he receives from prospective clients. But there s no complacency. He is clear about what still needs to be achieved and he relishes the challenge. We have a challenger brand. We re proud of that. Metro Bank was in exactly the same position. As a new entrant to the UK market, Metro Bank needed a distinctive edge from a brand perspective so they took a different approach to delivering excellent service. Like them, we now compete with larger, more well known brands without that brand recognition, but we ll continue to win market share because we re disrupting how we do things. Disrupt to progress. That s what we do. It s a principle more readily associated with technology companies than with law firms, but Andrew enjoys the parallel and the link back to the firm s own capabilities in this area. The fact that we build platforms like rubix really quickly is a good example. So few law firms can do something like that. It s a differentiator that gives us an advantage. So what s next? Following a year of consolidation strong but not stellar results, continued investment in people and technology, and integration of systems and teams sights are firmly set on growth and the opportunity to regain double-digit returns. But the watchword here is sustainable. This means taking and consolidating market share via organic growth and a focused go to market strategy in six key sectors: central & local government, energy & industrials, financial services, retail, food & hospitality, technology and transport. Specific activity, notably in construction, real estate, and insurance, could also help unlock the potential for client-led DWF expansion beyond the UK. Before that, however, there s London a green field opportunity. The move to the Walkie Talkie 20 Fenchurch Street, will play a key role in this respect. It s generated a buzz around the business but, as Andrew says; The challenge will be ensuring that people use it for what it s there to do; which is to service clients better across the national platform. Client service remains the theme that runs through DWF like a stick of rock. We re an enabler. We help clients trade effectively. But it s how we help our clients, as well as what we do, that counts.our differentiator is that in a market where mediocrity is accepted, we want to deliver excellence in the client experience. We will always go that bit further for our clients. In the end it always comes back to people and communications. Generally, says Andrew, communication within law firms is not great though it should be simple. People just need to talk to each other, but this only works when the structure is right. Andrew sums this up by explaining his power of eight theory. It s a simple premise: we believe that no manager can effectively manage more than eight direct reports. With eight, however, they can communicate properly, cascade messages, set priorities and objectives and ensure people understand the role that s expected of them within the business. By the same token, managers must acknowledge and honour the personal contract that exists between them and their direct reports. They must commit to supporting the new hires they bring into the business, throughout their careers at DWF. It s an active management philosophy that marks out the DWF constant. Borne directly from the firm s sound governance principles it s an approach that s designed to drive personal ambitions and business success. We have a challenger brand. We re proud of that. Andrew Leaitherland Annual Review

8 Highlights 32.4% 29.6% increase in revenue Revenue 189 million increase in net profit Net profit 50.4 million before tax attributable to all members of the LLP Winner Best Managed National Firm and Best Financial Management at the Managing Partners Forum Awards for Management Excellence 2014 Winner Large law firm of the year at the Manchester Legal Awards 2014 Winner Best Major project at the Lawyer Management Awards 2013 Andrew Leaitherland named Management Partner of the Year at the Legal Business Awards 2014 Ranked first of all top 20 UK law firms for the quality of our legal advice in the 2013 Legal Week Client Satisfaction Report (by revenue) 9.4 out of 10 for our quality of advice in an external assessment undertaken by Legal Week 6

9 12 locations across the UK and Ireland 321 * Partners & Directors 2500 * + People 62 Net Promoter Score Clients propensity to recommend DWF to others 39 Partner level lateral hires *as at 30 April Practice groups Corporate & banking Litigation Real estate Motor, fraud & claimant Cat. PI, occupational health & casualty Professional indemnity & commercial 6 Sectors Central & local government Energy & industrials Financial services Retail, food & hospitality Technology Transport We work with 24% of the FTSE % of the FTSE out of 10 Client satisfaction score Annual Review

10 Clear account Results announcements are often a mixed blessing for finance directors because they tend to draw comparisons. Alex Hodgson Finance Director Clients are the reason we get out of bed in the morning and we won t build a strong, sustainable business if we don t put them, and our people, at the heart of everything we do. Alex Hodgson DWF s 2013/14 full year results were less compelling than the previous 12-month period but still saw double-digit net profit growth and continued rises in revenue. Alex Hodgson is the man in the hot seat and he s remarkably upbeat. In revenue terms, we ve gone from a run rate of 188 million to 189 million. At the same time we ve brought the business together in a very short period of time. We ve been able to defend the income we had in net terms and we re a couple of percent up. That is a strong position in the first year after a number of significant mergers and acquisitions. Away from the number crunching, what he s much more keen for people to take account of is the success of the firm in binding together its several different strands. As Alex puts it: We ve been working hard to get the business into the right shape, with the positive work that s been carried out to align people behind a single version of what the firm stands for, with an embedded understanding of the depth and breadth of its products and services. He mentions the practical achievements of bringing people together and sharing the same systems. These are developments that have helped to continue building the DWF constant, both internally and out in the market. One of the key achievements has been implementing agile ways of working. Alex says that this has already delivered benefits for clients and for DWF s people. He explains that a more agile workforce is more easily contactable which provides a differentiated offering. Clients are supportive of the approach because they receive the service they need, though he acknowledges that agile working is not a solution for all. It works better for some clients than for others, he says. From an internal point of view, Alex identifies people within the firm who fall into the generation Y category as principle beneficiaries because they re searching for something different: They want to be successful in and out of work and they need modern, innovative tools to help them achieve this. A more creative use of the firm s physical space has helped too, with the knock-on benefit of reducing overheads. Approximately 15% of the DWF workforce is now agile according to Alex. I don t have a desk. We practice what we preach because this solution is good for most clients, he confirms. 8

11 Some reduction in headcount was necessary to restructure the talent pool following the firm s M&A activity. This exercise has put DWF in a better position to be able to capitalise on market opportunities. It was, Alex stresses, all about ensuring the right mix of skills and people. There was clearly also a positive impact on the cost base, though this was definitely not a main driver. All told, the speed and scale of business integration and reorganisation have been impressive, particularly considering that they ve been accomplished without dropping the ball on business growth. The firm maintained a roughly 50:50 balance of work from insurance and commercial clients. As Alex explains, this is important because having both broad income streams provides protection against economic cycles. Each contributed a fair share to performance. As expected, the ambition is for more and better performance in the future. Demonstrating high growth in revenue and profits sends out a strong message to the market, but not at any price, says Alex. Everything has to be about enhancing client service. Clients are the reason we get out of bed in the morning and we won t build a strong, sustainable business if we don t put them, and our people, at the heart of everything we do. Alex says that the legal profession has evolved very slowly over the last 20 years compared with the pace of change in many client organisations. He identifies this as a perfect opportunity for DWF to challenge everything it does and change the status quo. It s this inspiration that will drive the firm forward. Alex sees 2014/15 as the year in which DWF will realise the benefit of all the investments and hard work that have been put in place over the past 12 months. He concludes: We ll continue to grow and deliver sustainable, organic revenue expansion that beats the market and that leads to margin enhancement leveraging off the cost base. If we continue to get the client offering and service delivery right, and our people are motivated and engaged, the strength of the business will follow. It s a confident forecast but there s little reason to doubt its accuracy. Annual Review

12 Looking over the horizon Paul Berry CEO Insurance Services Chair, Client Development Executive Paul Berry and Clifton Harrison set out the achievements of the firm s Client Development Executive (CDE) as it reaches its first anniversary. We are helping brilliantly technical lawyers become even better at looking beyond the law to deliver client results. We have an ongoing programme which identifies then invests in embedding the skills our clients will need from us. Paul Berry We need to be constantly alert to the changing needs of our clients, explains Paul Berry, CEO Insurance Services, when asked why DWF formed the group. We can t fall into the trap of thinking that what we deliver today will be the solutions for tomorrow. We have to anticipate and pre-empt what clients are going to need. We ve been through a period of unprecedented change and it would have been very easy for us to look inward but that s not the DWF way, explains Paul. We need to learn and adapt from best practice but have the humility to admit that there are areas that we can improve. This recognition has placed the client in the room, according to Clifton Harrison, Client Development Director. We talk in depth to clients all of the time, he says, But without the additional scrutiny of the CDE we might not see beyond immediate operational issues. It s critical that we take time to challenge ourselves to deliver a better, future-proofed service and connect our expertise across the business and to our clients. This challenge comes in the form of a monthly meeting, chaired by Paul and attended by senior executives from across the firm. Its vision is...to establish, publicise and develop the guiding principles by which DWF will grow profitable enduring client relationships or as Paul puts it succinctly,...to put our clients voice right at the heart of our business. The group has three strategic guiding principles. Who will our clients be in three years time?, What services will they need? and Where do we need to invest to deliver them? That s not to say that the CDE isn t alert to the firm s operational requirements. The group has, in its first year, implemented a firm-wide client secondment strategy, restructured client teams, spearheaded investments in IT and developed tailored training programmes for partners. This last point is, according to Clifton, helping to add more value for clients. We are helping brilliantly technical lawyers become even better at looking beyond the law to deliver client results. We have an ongoing programme which identifies then invests in embedding the skills our clients will need from us, he says. Now we have a more sophisticated structure we re able to take a firm-wide view of our clients and the needs that are specific to their sector and business, adds Paul. This is a powerful lens that helps us to identify how we can help clients by developing innovative products and alternative pricing structures built around the unique requirements of each sector. It s all part of our drive to demonstrate ROI to our clients and quantify our contribution to their business. Unsurprisingly this means that change is a constant. In the next twelve months Paul and Clifton say the CDE will be focused on driving greater deployment of technology, continuing the realignment of skills to unlock expertise as it s required and new international collaborations for clients who are looking to develop their overseas businesses. 10

13 Going further for our clients Clifton Harrison, Client Development Director, explains why and how DWF is different. Clifton Harrison Client Development Director My role is to help people better understand the DWF experience, explains Clifton. Clients tell us that they feel the difference when they appoint us, that we re not afraid to get off the fence and express a clear commercial opinion that looks at the bigger business picture. This sets us apart from our peers. Clifton can say this with confidence because detailed and undiluted client feedback sits behind every major decision the firm makes. Over the last 12 months he has overseen over 130 face-to-face client care meetings, each providing an unprecedented insight into the client experience and satisfaction. Of course we want to know the good stuff but more than that, we need to know where we can improve, he says. And when we speak to clients we learn even more about their challenges which allows us to future-proof our service. This thirst for insight saw the recent launch of a new metric the Net Promoter System that allows DWF to measure client loyalty. It is, Clifton says, the first time that a law firm has quantified a client s propensity to recommend it to others and provides a clear and quantifiable benchmark to judge future performance. Today, the DWF score stands at 62. Taking into consideration that Google and Amazon have scores of around 80, this is a remarkable achievement for a professional services business. Clifton attributes these high scores to DWF s ability to pick from a strong bench of legal talent across the UK. He s quick to point out that this doesn t mean a generalist in your geography. Thanks to a number of high-profile lateral hires and the successful conclusion of recent mergers, DWF today offers experts with valuable sector knowledge deployed where and when the client needs them. It s clear that the firm believes the current legal model is ripe for reinvention. Any lawyer will tell you that the market is more competitive than ever, he explains. It s good that clients are more demanding. It s a major opportunity and we have responded by investing in our offer, getting even closer to our clients and by being innovative in the way that we meet their needs. Today, corporate governance, regulation and internal budget issues head those needs, having displaced the economy from top spot in the minds of many in General Counsel. There s a difference between being a good law firm and being a good law firm that people turn to first for pragmatic, authentic commercial advice, argues Clifton, and because we hire people who understand the challenges faced in each sector, we immediately become more approachable. That breaks down barriers and enables us to be faster, more focused and more flexible. As a result we re more valuable for clients. It s a simple formula, but it works. Just because the mergers are completed doesn t mean that DWF won t continue to innovate. Technology, big data and smart analytics all factor in the next phase of the firm s growth. We know where our opportunities lie, says Clifton. Operationally, you can expect greater collaboration across the firm and with clients, embedded technology platforms and even more dynamic provision of legal services. From a market perspective, we see a significant opportunity in London where our ability to challenge the status quo will make people look long and hard at existing models. Clifton concludes with a persuasive summary of his take on the next phase in the growth journey. This is a defining moment for DWF. We re enthused and excited about the future. We re grabbing it with both hands. Clients tell us that they feel the difference when they appoint us, that we re not afraid to get off the fence and express a clear commercial opinion that looks at the bigger business picture. This sets us apart from our peers. Clifton Harrison Annual Review

14 Sector focus Steffan Groch Partner, Litigation Head of Sectors Our sector-focused approach means we are well placed to support our clients in an evolving business world, which ultimately means we can go further for them. DWF s commitment to understanding the challenges and issues their clients face on a daily basis has allowed for the depth of insight required for the firm to create sector-specific products. Take, DWF Conforma for example, a product which assists financial services clients to navigate their organisation through compliance with the FCA regulatory regime. Clients can purchase an online audit tool which conducts an appraisal of their business, systems, practices and procedures, providing a report highlighting any areas requiring improvement, training or corrective action. DWF Reclaim is a debt recovery service tailored to the needs of local authority clients. As Steffan explains, We provide support and advice to the local authority, managing all claims with the utmost sensitivity, and carefully manage all messaging to counteract negative publicity. We ll help the client achieve a fantastic return on investment, which far exceeds the legal fees incurred. In the retail sector, DWF s Civil Recoveries product quickly and effectively recovers monies and goods relating to theft and fraud by customers and employees. Our recovery levels are market-leading and we work in such a way as to minimise the impact on our clients brands and businesses. Our goal is to maximise recoveries whilst minimising costs and we guarantee to put money back on a client s bottom line, says Steffan. DWF has also created microsites that focus on particular sectors. One such example is insurance.dwf.co.uk, where their specialist legal teams analyse key case law, procedural and legislative changes and highlight emerging issues to keep clients informed on the latest developments. Steffan continues, We create products and tools that meet specific needs, rather than trying to retro-fit the law for each sector. It s an approach that s paying off, with a number of blue chip organisations joining DWF s client list over the past 12 months. We are certainly seeing increased appetite from clients for the way we do business; they are impressed by our sector expertise and it helps us stand out from the crowd, says Steffan. Another area Steffan is particularly keen to discuss is how sector teams are sharing insights from their respective areas of focus. It s the cross-fertilisation between the sectors which I am most excited about. The legal sector has typically approached problems with individual expertise rather than as a team, which we don t think is very effective. We are also bringing in lateral hires to help strengthen our sector offering, explains Stefan. In the past year, Tim Leeson and director David Willbe joined the firm to help drive forward DWF s focus on the technology sector. Michael Mousdale, an expert on all aspects of local government, also came on board. Michael has advised on a number of landmark deals in the public sector, including the London Borough of Lambeth s Private Finance Initiative and Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority s 4.5 billion waste PFI project the largest project of its type in Europe, says Steffan. Looking ahead, Steffan is focused on continuing to further increase the firm s sector strength. We have moved from a law firm with an interest in sectors to one which sees sectors as integral in offering innovative client solutions. But we can t stop there, as there is a need to evolve with our clients needs, and lead thought and the debate in all of our chosen sectors. Our hard work so far puts us in a great position for the future. We create products and tools that meet specific needs, rather than trying to retro-fit the law for each sector. Steffan Groch 12

15 Producing the right result How DWF s Product Development Executive (PDE) is solving client issues one product at a time. Ian Slater Partner Insurance Services Head of Product Development & Innovation Firstly, it s worth explaining what we mean by the word products, begins Ian Slater, Partner and Head of Product Development & Innovation. It s a good place to start given that DWF is one of the few legal firms that look to solve client issues in this way. Our whole strategy is shaped by a deeprooted desire to enhance client outcomes, he says. We re constantly looking for ways to solve issues and we put a significant amount of time, money and effort into developing bespoke solutions products that clients can quickly harness to deliver a clear ROI. The way that these solutions are developed reveals a lot about the way that DWF connects its expertise with the needs of the client. Ian explains how the process works: Fundamentally we believe that nobody at DWF has a monopoly on good ideas, he says. In fact, some of our recent products have come from lawyers looking to solve very specific problems for individual clients. Our job is to take these ideas, identify where they can help other clients, and expand their potential. Expansion comes in the form of a monthly peer review courtesy of the PDE. The forum includes representatives from across the firm, including sector group partners. According to Ian the PDE... not only embeds innovative thinking in the firm, but also gives a voice and recognition to people with bright ideas. It is a process that is delivering results. Sonar, a low-cost claimant profiling and validation service is a good example. It started as a fraud screening product for streamlining searches of online databases and social media, providing a valuable dashboard for clients when handling claims. Following a review by the PDE, the product was re-engineered to provide underwriting support for insurance clients. Today, Sonar is a powerful check and screening product which allows car insurers to enter the online market with confidence. On the surface it s a simple idea, says Ian. But when you look at what sits behind it, you understand why building something so tailored and integrated, both internally and externally, takes time. Another product helping clients is DWF Clarity. From working with numerous clients with industrial, retail, office, residential or mixed investments, we saw a way to help them with their asset management, Ian explains. The firm developed DWF Clarity a clever, yet straightforward online asset management tool. This intuitive and interactive online tool flags key dates, keeps important issues on a client s radar and acts as a risk management tool. It also helps prepare their portfolios for sale. Ian continues, As well as being designed for use on a day to day basis, it enables asset managers to have instant access and visibility to their portfolios and also present the live status of each asset under their control to their board or investors. Ian expects the speed to market to accelerate in the future as the firm s IT development team expands and processes become further embedded across the firm, with three months from concept to delivery his goal. We ve got a huge untapped market, but all that highlights to me is that there s still a lot of work to do, he says. Keeping what we do front-of-mind across the firm will help us to identify and nurture brilliant ideas. Our job is then to create an environment that accelerates their delivery. This is exactly what happened with Highways express originally conceived as a simple toolkit to streamline tripping and slipping claims at a local authority level: We saw great potential in the offer and we built it into a more powerful product sitting on a bespoke IT platform which could then benefit the firm s local authority clients. As a result, Highways Express now has the potential to provide clients with a tailored RAG status thereby identifying those claims upon which precious resource should be targeted. In Ian s words, it s...a simple but incredibly effective solution that is already yielding significant results. Just like the PDE itself then. We re constantly looking for ways to solve issues and we put a significant amount of time, money and effort into developing bespoke solutions products that clients can quickly harness to deliver a clear ROI. Ian Slater Annual Review

16 Lean law Natalie Griffin Chief Operating Officer Commercial Services Darren Cunningham Chief Operating Officer Insurance Services Integrating five businesses in just over two years has delivered massive advantages for DWF. It s also cemented a shared sense of purpose: the pursuit of client service. The firm s Chief Operating Officer for Insurance Services, Darren Cunningham, and Natalie Griffin, Chief Operating Officer for Commercial Services, are at one in their view that greater scale means not only bigger, more complex solutions, but a more streamlined service too. It s important because law firms are now expected to provide innovative and affordable business solutions. Previously, the industry simply sold the law and that s no longer enough, says Darren. Darren cites lean business practices in the manufacturing sector. He emphasises that no one should confuse law with a production line but there are, he says, interesting insights: Like manufacturers, unlocking our own capacity by finding ways to work better, faster, smarter, and cutting away unnecessary processes gives us the flexibility to tailor and improve our service and adapt to our clients needs quickly. When looking at our own business, we start with the question what can we learn from other sectors? and we work back. This agile agenda is clearly important. Creating a more versatile and responsive firm isn t only about process, it s also about people, infrastructure and culture, insists Darren. It s a theme Natalie is quick to echo. She talks about the significance of cohesion and integration. True integration means breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration across the business. One of the great things we have at DWF is an entrepreneurial spirit and we want to keep embracing and rewarding this culture of change. We want all our people to challenge the status quo and to constantly be asking how do we create better value for our clients? She also references the early recognition by the firm s senior leadership team of the need to mitigate the potential impact of the mergers on the business, particularly regarding the impact it could have had on morale and short term performance, which was an important part of managing the successful transition. Increasing our efficiency and productivity is key to our future success so we need to be able to measure this effectively and on a national scale. Getting everyone on board, focusing on the key metrics and what they need to do individually and collectively is even more important given the significantly increased size of the firm, comments Natalie. This has meant ensuring everyone shared the process of creating a single national team. True integration means breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration across the business. One of the great things we have at DWF is an entrepreneurial spirit and we want to keep embracing and rewarding this culture of change. Natalie Griffin 14

17 Darren adds that devolving autonomy to individuals has also been a critical factor. When you grow as a firm, there is a risk that you lose agility and edge. You can become unwieldy. Identifying our client needs and our own KPIs tells us which levers to pull to align resources effectively. However, the key to growth is maintaining accountability and empowering people to make use of those tools and make the right tactical decisions at the right time. The closer we are to our client s agenda, the better informed we are. Insurance has been restructured to include three distinct groups Professional Indemnity & Commercial Insurance; Motor, Fraud & Claimant; and Catastrophic Injury & Large Loss. Each has its own management board responsible for leading growth and overall performance. All are tasked with delivering their own commercial success and are actively encouraged to draw on their client insights to design products and solutions to meet their needs. It s a way of operating that s shaped by the desire to make DWF easier to engage. This approach is matched by the need to deliver the best operational processes. A standout example of this was the creation of a new business intelligence platform, Qlikview, which has raised the level of transparent reporting across the business. Natalie explains: Building enhanced, automated and accessible reporting has helped us identify where the firm should focus in order to drive better operational performance. The self-serve nature of the reporting will also help to encourage engagement with our goals. The power of technology is a recurring theme across the business, which is hardly surprising given the commitment to continue to invest significantly in that area. With a strong platform for future growth now in place, the focus for the next year will be to enhance business performance from DWF s national platform. We re constantly challenging how we do business, delivering innovative solutions for clients and enhancing our productivity so that we remain at the forefront of the legal industry for changing the way services are delivered, says Natalie. This is a strong hint, if one were needed, that change will remain firmly on the agenda for the coming 12 months and well into the future. Change is a constant in our world, confirms Darren. You have to run just to stand still, and those who drag their feet will be left behind. This change represents a great opportunity for the firm. If we can see further over the horizon than our clients, we can anticipate and solve their problems before they impact on their businesses. Creating a more versatile and responsive firm isn t only about process, it s also about people, infrastructure and culture. Darren Cunningham Annual Review

18 The DWF constant In its capacity as a trusted adviser, DWF can t afford to be anything other than wholly compliant with best practice corporate governance. Deborah Abraham Director of Risk Management & Excellence It s a fact to which Director of Risk Management and Excellence, Deborah Abraham, is entirely attuned. She s also very comfortable with the firm s position in this regard. It s just simple good sense: a practical approach that stems from a basic principle of the need to do the right thing and to keep doing it better. It is the DWF constant. This principle is guided by the firm s very solid governance structure: a Strategic Board, elected by partners, and an Executive Board. There are four operating committees: the Compliance & Risk Committee, the Remuneration Committee, the International Steering Committee, and the Corporate Responsibility Committee. Each reports to the Strategic Board, quarterly. Add to this the valuable insight and challenge from external, non-executive directors and, more and more, the way that DWF is set up and how it behaves, seem to mirror closely the structures and processes employed by many of its clients. This is no coincidence. As Deborah explains, The firm s rigorous approach to governance ensures that few risks are likely to slip through the net. In fact, the risk register changes rapidly in a good way. Over time, several key risks have been successfully managed off the register altogether. This ever-growing ability to manage risk effectively is reassuring to the point of increasing the firm s overall risk appetite. In addition to a number of initiatives launched this year, we also launched the Excellence initiative which underpins the firm s activity and contributes to our risk management processes. The initiative is very much about improvement, as well as encouraging individual ownership and collective involvement. It s easy to talk about excellence and much harder to prove that it s embedded within the business, says Deborah. The fact that it s enshrined in DWF s business strategy is a good start and the relevant line reads: In a market where mediocre is good enough it doesn t take much to be excellent. This translates into making sure that there is a consistency of absolute quality across every aspect of the business, regardless of practice, sector, function or location. As an initiative, the excellence programme has successfully tapped into a highly capable resource DWF s 92 technical directors. Their skill and dedication to doing things better are central to providing the Excellence initiative with the substance it requires. We said to the technical directors, you own the excellence programme. Do a really great job on the technical aspects of our business, improve it and make sure it s the best it can be. There appears to have been an enthusiastic response, but time will tell. It will be interesting to look back in 12 months to see how far the firm has come and what difference excellence has made, especially to clients. It s easy to talk about excellence and much harder to prove that it s embedded within the business. Deborah Abraham 16

19 Striving for excellence Deborah Abraham explains how a pursuit of perfection is focusing her mind. The great thing about DWF is that we know exactly what we re striving for, begins Deborah. The goal is crystal clear. It s about creating a sustainable business, but we won t get there straight away because excellence is all about continuous improvement. It s obvious that the word continuous flows through everything that she and her team do. What Deborah describes as the firm s ongoing excellence journey is being built around the European Foundation of Quality Management (EFQM) model, which Deborah sees as more holistic than any other system. EFQM provides an external assessment and accreditation which, while not an end in itself, is a useful way for DWF to demonstrate and benchmark the quality of its offering and differentiate itself from its competition. By aligning itself to EFQM, the firm is demonstrating its formal commitment to excellence. We re using this as a formal route to achieve excellence. There s no other UK law firm pursuing this route, confirms Deborah. The objective is to ensure that everyone knows what s expected of them, what the gaps are and what needs to be done to fill them, she explains. Identification of gaps has come through feedback from DWF s own people, lateral hires, benchmarking against EFQM best practice, and clients experiences and aspirations, the latter provided through dedicated client care meetings. The exercise has the added benefit of bringing different parts of the business together, with success measured through a combination of individual and collective behaviours. Fortunately, as Deborah explains, collaboration is already hardwired into the firm: We re a firm of best practice, not tradition. So this is about reinforcing our best practice principles and of course, having the conviction to challenge them. It s about constant change and where that change makes a difference. One of the key outputs from the exercise has been the introduction of peer reviews across the whole firm an approach that is uncommon in the legal sector. As Deborah points out, lawyers don t naturally hand their files over to other lawyers to review, but it s clear that clients across a wide range of different sectors welcome the additional rigour and scrutiny it can bring. She cites insurance as a sector that has embraced this trend: It s not an option in this space. Insurers have expected technical review for a long time. It s a good discipline that we ll help to export to other client sectors. But how do you introduce new initiatives that run counter to established practices? In a word: quickly. Launched at DWF s 2014 Partners Conference in July, the excellence initiative has been rapidly adopted throughout the business via designated excellence sponsors, champions, agents and contributors. Internal events such as Excellence Week have also played a key part in promoting involvement, improving ways of working, and capturing and sharing ideas and best practice. Deborah even hints at a potential future Excellence Conference as part of DWF s annual firm calendar. Today though she is clear that the focus needs to be on further embedding the initiative across all levels, functions and locations. The word improve is a philosophy and not a destination. We ve got to keep the DWF brand values alive and aligned. We call it the DWF constant. The word improve is a philosophy and not a destination. We ve got to keep the DWF brand values alive and aligned. We call it the DWF constant. Deborah Abraham Annual Review

20 Strategic board Alan Benzie Chairman Paul Berry CEO Insurance Services Jonathan Edwards Partner Banking David Gray Non-Executive Director Alex Hodgson Finance Director Andrew Leaitherland Managing Partner & CEO Antony Marsh Partner Insurance Services Stephen Miles CEO Commercial Services Alasdair Peacock Partner Corporate & Banking Ian Slater Partner Insurance Services Catherine Williams Chief People Officer 18

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