‘We believe the people best able to run – and indeed own – a recruitment business are those who work in it’ | SSQ transitions to employee ownership

The EOA has welcomed the news that SSQ has transitioned to employee ownership, with the international legal talent consultancy stating that it “believes the people best able to run – and indeed own – a recruitment business are those who work in it”.

The market leading global legal talent business is now 100% employee-owned by an employee ownership trust (EOT) after announcing its transition this month almost 20 years since it was formed.

SSQ, which was founded in 2003, operates out of London, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, Madrid, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore, with additional coverage in the US, Australasia, South Africa, Switzerland, Austria and the CIS/CEE regions.

With consultants in multiple jurisdictions, it has access to local and international talent as well as an in-depth understanding of each local market. It recruits across private practice and in-house markets, dealing with roles at all levels of seniority, from senior partner and global GC to newly qualified and associates.

SSQ’s outgoing chairman, Gareth Quarry, said: “Over the last four years, SSQ’s management team has navigated Brexit, Covid and everything else the market has thrown at us and emerged even stronger than ever, dramatically growing market share, revenue and profits.

“Against this backdrop we are thrilled to announce the proposed next and biggest step to date – a move to 100% employee ownership transferring SSQ into an employee ownership trust under the day-to-day leadership of my current Group Co-CEO Jonathan Field and current UK CEO Adam Brown, joined by a newly refreshed senior management team.”

Jonathan added: “SSQ has always been a dynamic business, ready to embrace change – it’s one of the reasons I joined almost 15 years ago – it’s part of our DNA and one of the biggest reasons for our success over the years. Now is the time for the next stage of SSQ’s journey.

“My colleagues and I have enormous ambition for SSQ going forwards. We believe the people best able to run – and indeed own – a recruitment business are those who work in it, rather than outside investors, PE or external shareholders.

“That is why we have always prioritised investing in our people, the best people, and providing them with the optimum platform to maximise their ability to develop their practices and generate fees alongside our brilliant support colleagues.

“We absolutely believe that the best way of preserving SSQ’s unique culture is to pass the business to the people who make it so successful.

“SSQ’s employees are the people who care about the business now and in the future – and are the key to SSQ’s continuing and increasing success. It is those employees – and others who subsequently join us on our journey – who should be the people who get the benefit of their hard work and dedication.”

SSQ enjoyed a successful 2021, as for the first time its normalised profit before tax exceeded £10m, which had been the stated ambition when the new management team took over in 2018.

It says this has only been possible by “creating a highly entrepreneurial and ambitious culture, enabling us and all our colleagues to ensure SSQ’s market leading success”.

Last year, it was also ranked number one in The Recruiter magazine’s Professional Hot 100 and had no fewer than 14 of its colleagues (including associate recruiters) billing north of €1m.

Adam said: “Going forward, in the hands of the employees, SSQ will continue to lead the market. We will expand our global footprint and extend our permanent and temporary offering to more clients in private practice and in-house.

“The legal market is changing quickly, and our clients will adapt accordingly. We will be there to support them and offer legal talent solutions to allow them to drive their businesses forward.”

Fieldfisher was the law firm that advised SSQ on its move to employee ownership. The Fieldfisher team was led by partners Mark Gearing and Neil Palmer, with Tamsin Nicholds, Director, and Hannah Bignell, Associate, providing support.

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