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Author Archive : Tristan Forrester

“We lost on price. We have to discount.” 5 reasons to still be sceptical

September 17th, 2013 |

In the last 2 weeks, I've had three senior BDMs/CMOs say they've lost significant pieces of work on price. All were with long-standing clients, where both client knowledge and service levels were exceptionally high. (more…)

Posted in Professional Services | No Comments »

Three characteristics of professional services firms that win

September 1st, 2013 |

A winning professional services firm may be defined as one that consistently out-performs its closest competitors over an extended period of time. Winning firms have three characteristics:

1. intense client focus

2. a high performance culture; and

3. consistency in how they behave.


Posted in beatonbenchmarks, Engineering, Highlight, Professional Services | No Comments »

Cost Consciousness – how law firms fail

April 2nd, 2013 |

Of all the client service attributes we measure in our  Beaton Benchmarks studies, Cost Consciousness is the one that has increased in importance the most since the 2008 downturn. Not the quantum of fees, which has shown no increase in relative importance, but Cost Consciousness, which clients describe as their advisors "spending our money as carefully as if it were their own".

The news that DLA Piper is being sued in the US by a former client for its "sweeping practice of overbilling" just confirms Beaton's research.

What clients truly value is more complex than a simple trade-off between the benefits they receive for the fees they pay. Our studies indicate Cost Consciousness is a vital component of clients' perceptions. And more often than not, when clients get upset about fees, lack of Cost Consciousness looms large as a root cause.   


Posted in beatonbenchmarks, Highlight, Law, Legal, Professional Services | Comments Off on Cost Consciousness – how law firms fail

Female partners: More difficult than turning an oil tanker

December 7th, 2012 |

The results of the end-of-year partnership survey show increasing the proportion of female partners in law firms is more difficult than  turning an  oil tanker.  There was a 4.8% growth in female partner numbers in the last 12 months, while male partner numbers actually declined slightly.

However, this seems to have less to do with the numbers of women being appointed, than predominantly male senior partners retiring. In fact, the percentage of women making partner has been steady at around 30% since 2011, after increasing from 25% in the December 2010 survey.


Posted in Legal, Professional Services | Comments Off on Female partners: More difficult than turning an oil tanker

Why lawyers outperform consulting engineers

November 3rd, 2011 |

Since 2003 when we starting benchmarking client-rated performance, the consulting engineering firms have always lagged the law and accounting firms pretty much across the board. And it's been this way for the 9 years of data we have. What is it about the engineering profession that leads to this lower performance? And what is it that the other professions - particularly lawyers - do so well? There are the obvious things:

  • Engineers think "projects" not "clients". Professional kudos comes from being involved in big projects.
  • Power in law and accounting firms comes from your client relationships and their willingness to follow you if you leave the firm. Not so in engineering.
  • Personality-wise, engineers are more introverted and conflict-avoiding than accountants and lawyers.
  • Engineers have been giving away margin for years – and understanding your clients' needs, and delivering on them, takes an investment of time.

However, a recent conversation with a client got me thinking about another possible cause, particularly in large, generalist firms. (more…)

Posted in beatonbenchmarks, Engineering, Professional Services | No Comments »

The good old days are over: business conditions for law firms volatile

October 28th, 2011 |

The Commonwealth Bank - Beaton Market Pulse for Q1 FY2012 shows that large and middle-sized law firms are experiencing much tougher conditions than at the end of FY2011. Full coverage is available in today's Legal Affairs section of The Australian newspaper. (Print and online: online requires subscription – free for the first 3 months.) While this decline is being felt across the profession, it is particularly driven by the top-tier firms, whose perceptions of business conditions fell from net 50% positive in Q4 FY2011 to net 14% negative. How are firms reacting? (more…)

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Posted in beatonbenchmarks, Legal | No Comments »

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