FBC Manby Bowdler, which has offices in Shrewsbury and Telford as well as around the West Midlands region, saw turnover and profits rise for the fourth consecutive year, which Managing Partner Neil Lloyd says has allowed the firm to reinvest in the business and its staff, which has in turn boosted employee and customer satisfaction.
Neil said: “Our turnover was up seven per cent on the previous year’s results. It’s a phenomenal achievement given the tough economic headwinds and before the start of the year, I was expecting a drop off in work – particularly our conveyancing services.
“But we’ve managed to successfully pivot to focus on higher value properties where buyers seem to be less affected by mortgage rate increases, so we’ve actually been able to grow that income stream. We’ve also seen an increase in demand for our litigation and insolvency services.”
Profits were also up for 2023, and Neil is planning investments in new systems and IT infrastructure to improve operational efficiency and the customer experience in 2024.
The firm also paid out the biggest bonuses in the company’s history. Neil added: “In addition to the bonus payments the increased turnover enabled the firm to provide cost of living payments to the majority of the staff earlier in the year. It’s been great being able to share the success with nearly 200 people.”
FBC Manby Bowdler are rightly very proud of their staff engagement score, which currently stands at 82.5%. Anything above 60% is considered world class.
“Staff engagement is critical to the success of the firm, and I cite this as one of the main reasons why we are number one for client satisfaction in the West Midlands for almost all of our work types, and in the top 10 nationally for some of our specialities too – based on Review Solicitor surveys,” added Neil.
“I’m convinced employees that are happy and feel supported in their role will deliver the best service to our customers.”
There were other highlights in 2023 for FBC Manby Bowdler including Neil Lloyd being made Managing Partner, making him one of only a few non-legals in the country to be leading law firms. The firm also saw its first two apprentices qualify after six years of work and study.
Abigail Noakes and Chloe Turner qualified as solicitors into the Business & Company Law and Family Law, Divorce and Children teams respectively. There are now 24 trainees or apprentices across the business.
Looking ahead to 2024, Neil expects there will be more challenges to come and said: “Economic headwinds are ever present and we need to remain flexible, adding resource to areas of our service that are in growth and pivoting in areas where activity is experiencing a slowdown.
“We are carrying out a review of our services to see how we can improve too – perhaps ‘unbundling’ some of our packages or putting them together in different ways. Technology is going to be a key focus, particularly around the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to see how these can be utilised to greater effect.
“We already use speech recognition and some teams are about to trial tools that sits across ChatGPT. AI-driven leaseholder contract reviews could also be a possibility in 2024.
“Whatever this year holds in store, we know that continuing to listen and respond to the needs of our customers and our staff will set us in good stead, alongside our ongoing commitment to delivering innovative, customer-first legal services to individuals and businesses in Shropshire.”