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Chris Sood-Nicholls, Managing Director, Head of Professional Services, Corporate and Institutional Coverage at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking on the bank’s commitment to the legal sector and its future plans.

The last 10 months has been an unprecedented experience, bringing opportunities and challenges alike.

Once tentative shifts towards home working have become a transformation of working practices, and a permanent shift in cultural perceptions of working remotely. Many are enjoying more flexible hours, reduced travel and more time with family. Polls suggest there is an appetite to continue to work remotely at least some of the week.

The benefits of this new culture extends beyond employee wellbeing. Where once firms may have prioritised expanding their office footprint, now the priority is using existing space more efficiently, creatively and sustainably. A blend of home working and face to face teamwork will become the ‘new normal’, with office layouts designed specifically to facilitate collaboration, and enhance employee experience.

This approach is better for clients, too they will benefit from improved quality of service and increased value for money, when firms pass on cost savings from downsizing, relocation or reduced travel. Similarly, finance teams will take the opportunity to maximise profits and bank additional cash reserves for future investment.

Despite these advantages, myriad questions remain given the scale of the change. The sector must work together to solve challenges: keeping firm leadership visible and transparent, supporting employee mental wellbeing while in isolation, and effectively onboarding and nurturing young talent in an industry where development relies heavily on learning by example.

A tech enabled competitive edge

Some of these challenges can be addressed by tech. Technology is synonymous with agile working, and new tools designed to boost productivity, collaboration and client engagement are now investment priorities for many.

On a practical level, firms will benefit from trading excessive paper documentation for e-signatures and blockchain enabled smart contracts. But, the strength of a firm’s tech offering will become an increasingly important differentiator. Tech based acquisitions can help firms bolster their proposition, help them convert and nurture client relationships, and offer a competitive edge.

In sector M&A opportunities to introduce digital specialisms will also become more common. Much of 2020 has helped to re cement the importance of working capital and lock up efficiency for CFOs and FDs. The benefits of a tech enabled collaborative culture mean firms that have relied on partners for cash collections, and temporarily reduced their drawings, are best placed to take first pick not only of acquisitions, but of talent moving away from firms hit by the crisis.

This is where the support of a banking partner is key. At Lloyds Bank, we continually invest in our market leading proposition, delivering outstanding service. We offer a suite of services including capital structure advisory, cash management and digital payments, wealth planning and investment management, as well as corporate pension administration and vehicle finance.

Your relationship manager will also work closely with you and your firm to optimise your banking, tapping into the breadth of our offering to find the bespoke blend of solutions that will best meet your practice’s needs.

Enacting positive change

This year has also seen a series of social movements and demonstrations bringing environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) accountability closer to the fore for professional practices. To take a recent example, FCA CEO Nikhil Rathi has warned the body could block director appointments if diversity across senior roles at City firms is not improved.

Environmental considerations, too, are key. Sharp drops in global air pollution over the summer placed climate change firmly at the forefront of people’s minds, and businesses and individuals alike face pressure to preserve this among many other positive environmental side effect of lockdown.

This has been compounded by a report from the World Meteorological Organisation that revealed little change to overall levels of atmospheric concentrations of CO2, despite plummeting emissions, making climate action even more urgent. Solutions such as Lloyds Bank’s Green Buildings Tool can help drive efficiency across business’ office networks, slashing emissions while simultaneously reducing long term energy costs.

ESG is also becoming a top priority for young professionals. Our sector must act now in order to remain competitive in the search for talent even if this means reviewing otherwise lucrative client relationships.

The future for professional services is evolving rapidly. Investment in technology, reinforcement of business culture and renewed focus on environmental responsibility will support firms’ recovery, building trust and resilience, and unlocking opportunities for growth.

If you would like to discuss how Lloyds Bank can help you, please email christopher.sood-nicholls@lloydsbanking.com

This article is produced for general information only and should not be relied on as offering advice for any specific set of circumstances.

About the author

Chris Sood-Nicholls
Chris Sood-Nicholls

Managing Director, Head of Professional Services

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Important legal information

Lloyds Bank is a trading name of Lloyds Bank plc, Bank of Scotland plc, Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc and Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH.

Lloyds Bank plc. Registered Office: 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no. 2065. Bank of Scotland plc. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Registered in Scotland no. SC327000. Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc. Registered office 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no. 10399850. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 119278, 169628 and 763256 respectively.

Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets plc. Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH has its registered office at Thurn-und-Taxis Platz 6, 60313 Frankfurt, Germany. The company is registered with the Amtsgericht Frankfurt am Main, HRB 111650. Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Wertpapierhandelsbank GmbH is supervised by the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht.

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While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information provided is correct, no liability is accepted by Lloyds Bank for any loss or damage caused to any person relying on any statement or omission. This is for information only and should not be relied upon as offering advice for any set of circumstances. Specific advice should always be sought in each instance.