In 2008 Ed, Cat and Chris had been working at PwC for 9 years. Frustrated with the internal politics, and searching for an exciting opportunity, they were in the right place and the right time when Cat became aware of an opportunity to start their own business with DSW.
Wanting to start with the right people around her Cat asked Ed and Chris if they’d like to join as a team and DSW Transaction Services was born.
The process began with a few meetings between the team and DSW founders James Dow and Jon Schofield who explained that as they were referring so many clients to external businesses for transaction services it made sense to bring in a team who could reap the benefits. As their roles in PwC didn’t include winning work this safety net of referrals reassured them that the transition from employees to business owners would be smoother than if they set up alone. Especially as this was during the recession.
Ed Brentnall, Partner in Dow Schofield Watts Transaction Services
“I joined Dow Schofield Watts in 2008, primarily attracted to the opportunity to build and run our own business. The task was fairly daunting as the level at which I’d previously operated at PwC was not one where I’d been expected to win work so DSW’s help in opening doors and being able to present ourselves as part of a pre-existing advisory brand was invaluable.
In the intervening 11 years we have successfully built a North West due diligence offering which competes with that provided by the core international accountancy firms and supported the establishment of similar offerings elsewhere in the UK.
The chance to lead our own business with my fellow partners, grow the team, and act as a trusted advisor across a client base which we have developed over the years is a great source of personal pride. At the same time, Dow Schofield Watts’ own geographical reach, service lines and infrastructure has grown, such that we have felt part of a wider transition from highly regarded North West boutique to nationwide player.”
Catriona Lang, Partner in Dow Schofield Watts Transaction Services
“I joined Dow Schofield Watts in 2008 because of the reputation of the business and the opportunity on offer, which felt like one which wouldn’t come along again.
It’s a different working environment as we have autonomy over our own business, have the ability to drive it in the direction we want to and get direct benefit the harder we work.
At the time we couldn’t have set the business up on our own. It allowed us the security to take the time to set up and being part of the wider group allowed us to access contacts we wouldn’t otherwise have access to.”
Ellen Little, Partner at Dow Schofield Watts Business Planning
“Becky and I were already set up in partnership when we started talking to DSW about joining up, having left EY in 2010. We took a long time to make a final decision as we were proud of the business we had already built and were slightly concerned that we would lose some of our ethos and control. As it was we needn’t have worried. Since joining DSW in 2018 our business has gone from strength to strength. We have increased our client base through both contacts within DSW and also due to being able to operate under an established brand. We have access to a highly professional, skilled wider team whom we can ask for advice or just use a sounding board for operational issues.
This support is provided in the context of us very much being left to our own devices in terms of the operational day-to-day running of the business. In this way we have been able to maintain our own style and culture. It really is the best of both worlds, and we definitely made the right decision in coming on board.”
Kate Beckett, Partner in Dow Schofield Watts Forensic Services
“I joined Dow Schofield Watts as it gave me the advantage of joining people I already knew at a firm which was ‘established’ but where I could still influence the direction and growth of the business.
I decided to take the leap from a Big 4 firm when the lack of focus on regional markets became hugely frustrating. I knew there was a market in the north east worth pursuing and the ‘away jobs’ didn’t fit with my personal circumstances, having a young family.
Despite the risks and concerns associated with running your own business, the ability to make decisions, work flexibly, benefit directly from the rewards and work with people you like, respect and can work seamlessly with makes it worth it.”
Will Baxter, Partner in Dow Schofield Watts Corporate Finance
“I joined Dow Schofield Watts in 2018 having spent 20 years in large law and accountancy firms.
My decision to leave that environment came about with the realisation that a large amount of my time was spent on internal initiatives rather than being in the market, doing transactions and generating fees – which is what I enjoy.
I did consider practicing on my own, or with my current partner, but Dow Schofield Watts offered the right level of professional recognition in the market place without the administrative burden that goes with the territory in larger organisations.
Clients respect the Dow Schofield Watts name and the quality of the people and offering is very high. At the same time partners are empowered to run their own P&Ls which generally means that there is a high level of personal freedom and superior economics for the individual.”
Nicola Merritt, Partner in Dow Schofield Watts Transaction Services
“I joined DSW Transaction Services as a partner in 2014. At that time I had a two year old and six month old. Some people thought I was mad. Why leave a safe job with one of the Big 4, a guaranteed salary and a nice bonus when I was staring at some hefty childcare bills? Why take that risk? Well it wasn’t a difficult decision for me. I knew I wanted to work with entrepreneurial, like minded people in an environment where I could be in control of my destiny. At the time, the advantage of being able to flex family commitments around my work commitments wasn’t the highest priority on my list. Key to my career decision was being part of a professional, credible, respected team and being able to continue to focus on dynamic Private Equity transactions.
I was also excited by the challenge of helping grow DSW Transaction Services. Being awarded Buinsess Insider’s North West Transaction Services Team of the Year two years on the row has been a career highlight. Particularly as our competitors are all huge multi-national firms.
Five years on and with my children now both in school I totally appreciate the flexibility that the DSW business model offers. As DSW partners, we are not only in control of our own businesses, we are in control of our own time. For me, this has meant that I’ve been able to pursue interests outside of work that I know I would not have had the capacity to do in my previous role.
I can safely say that since I joined DSW I’m healthier, happier and without a doubt it was the right move for me.”