The FT is a fantastic place to read from an impartial resource, to help with understanding what’s happening in the UK business environment. If I want to understand the world and how it’s changed, I’ll read an FT article.Partner, Commercial, Farrer & Co
Farrer & Co is an independent law firm that works specifically with entrepreneurs and businesses, families and individuals, financial services, educational and not-for-profit organisations.
Farrer & Co is one of the staple law firms in London helping its clients progress and grow in their endeavours. David Fletcher is a corporate partner at Farrer & Co, and has been at the firm for the last sixteen years.
David’s experience is mostly acting for entrepreneurs and investors with a focus on fintech and the digital economy, and he is in charge of the business development for the entrepreneurs and businesses of the firm. Working within the corporate team, he has had a lot of exposure to the ways the firm has adapted and evolved.
“If you look at the type of work we do compared to other firms, there’s more of a personal element to it,” said David. “There’s a key theme that runs all the way through the organisation, and it comes down to relationships. “These are long term relationships fundamentally built on trust with our clients: we’ve acted for some of our clients since the 18th century, and you can’t do that unless you’re consistently good at what you do, and have strong relationships. Organisations change and evolve quite a lot so you have to change and evolve with their business and with their organisation.”
Adaptability and change in the practice
Organisations changing is a key factor of Farrer & Co growth over the past few years. Whilst it is an established law firm in London, its excellence comes from its ability to build up relationships, and grow with clients as their needs change over time, which also affects its employees too.
“Farrer & Co is a diverse practice,” David said. “We want to demonstrate the Farrer & Co of today and tomorrow. From our female senior partner through to the diversity of our partners, associates, trainees, secretaries and business services experts, our people help drive our values and keep us in touch with what our clients care about.”
As clients are adapting fast, there was a requirement within Farrer & Co to keep up with these changes. With an FT Group Subscription, the teams of consultants, partners and C-suite can be as informed as possible on the changes that impact their clients and their business.
Clients are adapting, so must Farrer & Co
It’s not just societal values that have changed over the last three hundred years: technology has been in a huge developmental flux, in particular in the last ten years. Most of David’s clients are entrepreneurs, or investors who acquire companies, both at various levels of the company’s development, and both predominantly in technology.
“The main common themes are around technology, blockchain, AI, proptech, and so on,” said David. “There is a generational shift that is happening. That’s why we work so closely with entrepreneurs; that’s why we’re talking about the digital economy; that’s why we’re talking about sustainability.”
In David’s view, technology is the primary factor for sales now. There has been a shift away from pure commercialism, and instead more of a focus on ‘for profit for good’. One aspect of David’s role at Farrer & Co is to delve into the priorities of the founders of the business as a whole, and explore the impact and implications of the business on sustainability.
With the Financial Times’ coverage of sustainability and ESG, advisers can be kept up to speed in the vastly changing sector. Moral Money, the FT’s newsletter for dedicated coverage on ESG and the environmental impact on business, is one such area for Farrer & Co staff to be able to educate themselves.
It’s always been the case, but there is an expectation that all advisers are fully informed at all times. It used to be the case that the morning’s paper would be enough to keep you well-informed, but David said this isn’t enough anymore.
“What might have happened, or what somebody might have tweeted, or whatever scientific discovery might have come out and how the markets have moved can be fundamentally different between one morning to the evening,” he said. “It allows you to demonstrate your knowledge in a certain sector, not only from a depth perspective, but also from a timeliness perspective. Whilst you may not be expected to read all of it, you are expected to be more on the pulse than just ‘I read the paper this morning’.”
Impartial resource for understanding UK & world business
It’s not just technology and sustainability insights that Farrer & Co advisers need to be excellent legal counsel. As a law firm that operates within multiple sectors in multiple regions, this knowledge requirement spans continents and sectors, with a real emphasis on objective presentation of facts. The Financial Times is one resource that David and his team utilise to keep up to date in a timely fashion with these areas.
“You’ve got to understand what’s happening in the States, you’ve got to understand what’s happening in Silicon Valley, and increasingly, you’ve got to understand what’s happening in China,” he said. “For world views, I’ll read the FT, and read the journalism, and explore the in-depth commentary around the trends and areas of business I’m interested in. It doesn’t appear to have any particular political influence, it’s more that it is trying to be an objective description of the facts of what’s going on, rather than trying to put too much journalistic gloss on it.”
This lack of ‘journalistic gloss’ that David referred to is vital when offering advice to the individuals and businesses Farrer & Co represents. Particularly when it comes to a rapidly changing environment in Brexit, the US-China relations, the US election, and the coronavirus pandemic, having relatively neutral coverage is essential.
“The FT is a fantastic impartial resource, to help with understanding what’s happening. It helps me so I can advise clients, on matters such as investing in business, or growing a business. I couldn’t do this without understanding how the UK economy is growing, where investors are looking, what their appetite is at the moment.
“Do you need to worry about just the UK taxation, how likely are there to be barriers to entry between the UK and Europe after Brexit, how are relations with businesses with relation to China? I wouldn’t know otherwise, without exploring sources of information, and particularly, the FT has a permanent position for me.”
Easy access to the right information, fast
Anyone who has any understanding of legal firms and professionals knows that typically, staff are exceptionally time-poor, and need information to be readily available. David mentioned that despite the fact that Farrer & Co has had a physical FT subscription for years, it wasn’t until the digital elements were brought in that he started to read more of the articles.
“Moving over to digital meant I’ve now got the time to read the news, typically on the train to work, or 10 minutes before a meeting in a client’s reception,” he said. “I can check my alerts, see what’s important in the news, and generally be on top of the market changes affecting me or my clients.”
His use of alerts and preferences allows him to find the news in a timely manner, and is one of the FT’s features most utilised by legal professionals to tailor the content they receive, fast. Not only can he access the content he requires in an efficient manner, but he can also engage with like-minded individuals on FT.com.
“I can now read an FT article, and I can also explore the comments, and see what the global view is, not just my own,” he said. “Technology is influencing that. Technology is helping to update you throughout the day, through email briefings that allow you to focus on your preferences, or indeed to go further than just the articles themselves, and read into the source material, or annual reports.”
Once David has found the material he needs to work to his best, he has the ability through the FT’s gift article system to share content with users, whether they have an FT subscription or not.
“If I find a relevant article that I think others should read, I will send it to people internally,” David said. “Every now and then I will send articles to clients as well, because clients appreciate it if you send them something timely on a topic which is relevant to their business.”
Group Subscription users can gift up to 20 articles with non-subscribers, at no additional cost. This demonstrates the reliable insight and information that advisers are using to bolster their understanding of their client’s situation, and helps to maintain credibility of knowledge.
An FT Group Subscription extracts the intelligence that’s relevant to your business and delivers it via the media and technologies that suit you best, saving you time and keeping you informed on what matters.
For more information about how the Financial Times can help your organisation or to request a free trial, please get in touch.