Accountancy giant KPMG has said it does not intend to compete with law firms despite gaining the right to provide reserved legal services.
The firm has outlined plans to triple its current number of lawyers to 150 within three years after being granted an alternative business structure licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The legal arm of the firm, focusing mainly on tax advice, already brings in around £10m each year.
KPMG said it has no plans to create a standalone practice and is the first accountancy firm to market itself as a multi-disciplinary practice. However its planned move into corporate, commercial, immigration and employment matters will be seen as creating direct competition for law firms – many of which are currently referred clients by KMPG.
Gary Harley (pictured) , responsible for the roll-out of KPMG’s legal services business, said the firm’s main competition will continue to be other accountancy businesses.
‘The reality is we will continue to refer clients to lawyers for a long time,’ he said. ‘We have ambitions to grow the legal division and expand across more areas but to think we could compete with big law firms is not credible.’
KPMG is the second of the ‘big four’ accountancy firms to secure an ABS licence, after PwC Legal took the same route earlier this year.
Richard Collins, SRA executive director, said the vehicle KPMG has created is the kind of entity envisaged when the Legal Services Act was introduced. ‘We believe ABSs of this type will benefit consumers by providing greater competition in the provision of legal services, greater opportunities to access holistic services, and potential reductions in cost.’
Also last week, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, which became an approved ABS regulator in August, announced the issue of its first licence.
South-east firm Kingston Smith, which has more than 400 staff, has been approved to carry out probate work.