Handshake (2)

Every successful entrepreneur’s journey will at some stage meander through the offices of the legal sector. Anything from minor, but necessary, hoop jumping to pivotal negotiations requires input from solicitors.

Similarly, good accountants are indispensable to anyone with serious ambitions about creating a high growth enterprise.

Such services should be delivered exactly to the entrepreneur’s needs; providing fast results which enable the client to get on with the daily duties of business building.

One trend in the professional services world which is aiding this and driving greater efficiencies for clients, is increased collaboration.

Now, more than ever, the boundaries between professional service disciplines are being crossed to the benefit of the client.

Yes, this willingness to collaborate also benefits the service providers themselves. Sharing contacts and expertise can be a powerful method of winning more and bigger business.

For entrepreneurs, however, it can mean a more streamlined management of essential legislative and financial obligations. Further than that, it can even be the difference between survival and failure.

Take financial mis-selling or irregularities, for example. A competent accountant can spot a hole where funds should be, or a financial product not doing what it is supposed to. The resultant blemishes on the balance sheet may make the difference between boom and bust. Such problems require rapid action. A disjointed approach or delays in working out a legal and financial solution can be disastrous.

But having an accountancy firm closely collaborating with a law firm can bring about a smoother and more effective response.

Accountants are often the first port of call when people think they may have an issue related to financial mis-conduct or mis-selling. But they can’t always be expected to have the legal knowledge required to deal with such problems.

This growing willingness to collaborate was forged during the economic downturn and its long-lasting fallout. As businesses exposed to the crash cut overheads, anything but essential services were slashed. In almost every sector, including legal and financial services, strength in numbers was seen as a way of avoiding certain doom.

With the economy growing once more, collaboration is now perhaps weighted towards companies seeking new opportunities and growth, rather than simply survival.

And entrepreneurs can be winners in this newly collaborative landscape too. For business leaders it is well worth investigating how collaborative your current or potential professional services providers are. Their connections may well hold the key to your next breakthrough or game-changing decision.

The trend for cross-discipline collaboration in the coming years might extend further – as evidenced by Ernst & Young’s recent foray into digital design. The global services giant’s advisory division recently acquired digital design consultancy Seren.

The move was billed as a ‘first of its kind’ as the firm plans to widen the reach of its consulting services. In future we may see more examples of this type of deal, as professional services creeps into new territories, including marketing all things digital. The result for entrepreneurs will hopefully be more cohesion between the many external services required by growing businesses – and a faster route to success.

By Peter McKenna, senior partner at TLW Solicitors