Saffery Champness

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Saffery Champness

Lion House
Red Lion Street
London, United Kingdom
Telephone: (44) 020 7841 4000
Fax: (44) 020 7841 4100
Web site:

Private Company
Employees: 425
Sales: £1.5 billion ($2.5 billion) (2002 est.)
NAIC: 541211 Offices of Certified Public Accountants

Saffery Champness celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2005 as one of the United Kingdom's leading independent accountancy partnerships. The London-based business has developed an extensive presence in the United Kingdom, with offices in Bournemouth, Bristol, Edinburgh, Harrogate, High Wycombe, Inverness, London, Manchester, and Peterborough, as well as an office on the island of Guernsey, providing offshore services through subsidiary Saffery Champness Management International Limited. Saffery Champness provides a full range of accountancy and related financial services, including auditing, tax planning, corporate finance; human resources (HR) consultancy; investment and financial advice; information technology (IT) consultancy; litigation and forensic accounting; offshore structures; payroll; private office; share valuation; tax; trusts; and value-added tax (VAT).

The company targets a broad client base, with customers including publicly listed companies; barristers; charities; media and entertainment groups; landed estates and agriculture; foreign owned corporations; owner managed businesses; private clients; professional services firms; property; public sector; and regulated businesses. Saffery Champness also provides specialized services through a number of dedicated groups, such as its Professional and Consultancy Services Group, established in January 2006 and focused on the HR and recruitment sectors. Saffery Champness employs nearly 55 partners, supported by a staff of 370. The firm's annual revenues are estimated to top £1.5 billion ($2.5 billion) in the mid-2000s, placing it in the United Kingdom's top 20 accounting firms. Saffery Champness is also a founding member of SC International, a globally operating accountancy association grouping more than 100 independent accountancy firms in more than 50 countries worldwide. Saffery Champness has been led by Chairman Nick Gaskell since July 2005.


While accounting had been practiced for centuries, its emergence as a modern profession was still quite recent. The first full-fledged accounting firm was established in the United Kingdom only in the late 18th century. It was not until the passage of the Bankruptcy Act of 1831 that the profession received its first official recognition, when accountants were granted the same status as merchants and bankers for conducting audits. A major move toward the creation of the modern accounting industry in the United Kingdom came in 1853, with the establishment of the country's first accountants association, the Institute of Accountants in Edinburgh.

Saffery Champness's roots were planted during this early period of the U.K. accounting industry, when Joseph John Saffery established an accountant's office in London in 1855. The original site of the firm's offices was in London's Guildhall Chambers. Soon after founding his firm, however, Saffery formed a partnership with William Palmer, taking up new premises on Basinghall Street.

The accounting industry received a new boost in 1862, with the passage of the Companies Act. Also known as the "accountant's friend," the new legislation created an Official Liquidator, that is, a single person charged with overseeing a company's liquidation. The creation of this function proved an important source of new revenues for the country's accountants. The new opportunities led Saffery to expand his partnership in 1865, linking H. Croysdill to form Croysdill & Saffery.

The British government continued strengthening the legislation governing the nation's corporate sectors through the end of the century. In 1867, for example, a new Companies Act was passed, followed soon after by a new Bankruptcy Act in 1869. Through this legislation and others, accountants became more and more implicated in the financial lives of the country's companies, both private and public, as well as in the public sector. The rising importance of the accounting industry led to the creation of a number of new locally and regionally focused accountants associations, such as the Institute of Accountants in London. This body, which included Joseph Saffery among its founding members, later grew into the central accountants body, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, or ICAEW.

Another important piece of legislation in the U.K. accounting industry was added in 1879, when a new Companies Act established requirements that all of the country's banks maintain audited accounts. This legislation provided a new revenue stream for accountants. Not all of the legislation governing the corporate sector proved favorable to accountants' interests, however. A large number of accountants overseeing insolvency proceedings had been withholding the money generated during liquidation proceedings; in response, the Bankruptcy Act passed in 1883 established the new office of Official Receiver, which then took over the management of insolvency proceedings. The new legislation represented a major loss of earnings for the accounting industry.

Saffery was joined in business by son Francis Joseph Saffery in 1885. At that time, the firm's name was changed to Saffery Son and Company. The elder Saf-fery's prominence in the London accounting market was underscored in 1889 when he was elected as president of the ICAEW, a position he held for two years. By then, another Saffery son, Harold Edgar Saffery, joined the firm, which became known as Saffery Sons and Co. in 1889.


We believe firmly in giving clients added value by: Providing a proactive, friendly and highly personal service which is flexible and responsive to clients' needs; Offering a wide range of skills and specialist services to meet clients' practical requirements; Communicating clearly and openly with clients; Basing all advice on the personal relationship between the clients and a lead director backed up by further specialist resources in Guernsey and throughout the firm; Focusing the firm's resources on developing a team of quality staff, on whose services our clients depend; Working as a team with the clients' existing professional advisers; Providing access to a network of other professional contacts offering complementary services who share our high standards of client service and in-depth technical expertise; Offering a cost-effective service, with fees agreed at the outset wherever possible; Building long-term relationships with clients.


British legislation continued to influence the development of the modern accounting industry. In 1903, for example, the passage of a Revenue Act presented a first definition of an accountant as a member of an incorporated body of accountants, such as the ICAEW. The new legislation, subsequently reinforced following World War I, gave new weight to the accountants bodies, as well as further legitimacy to the accounting profession. In the meantime, the British government extended its requirement for audited accounts from the financial sector to the corporate sector, passing the Companies (Consolidation) Act of 1909. By then, Saffery & Sons had grown as well, adding a new partner, John Skinner. The firm then changed its name to Saffery, Sons and Skinner. After Skinner retired in 1914, and Cecil Francis Saffery joined the firm, the partner-ship readopted the name of Saffery Sons & Co. The firm was to maintain that name into the 1970s.

Saffery grew during the 1920s, adding an additional office in Margate in 1921. Later that decade, the firm added a new partner, Thomas Holdme Nicholson, who joined in 1928. Members of the Nicholson family were to become prominent members of the Saffery partnership, as Nicholson's son Dennis, and then grandson Clive, joined the firm.

Yet Saffery Sons & Co.'s emergence as one of the United Kingdom's top 20 accounting firms really occurred in the 1970s. An important step toward this transition came in 1972, when Saffery Sons & Co. merged with Newman Ogle Bevan & Co. Following this merger, Saffery Sons changed its name to Safferys in 1973. The following year, Safferys grew again, this time merging with C. McDonald and Co. Safferys also added a new office during the 1970s, extending into the offshore market with the opening of its Guernsey branch in 1977. Starting with just one resident partner, the Guernsey office grew into one of the group's largest offices over the next decades. The successful opening in Guernsey led Safferys to seek other areas of expansion, and in 1980 the firm opened an office in Iverness as well.

At the same time, Safferys continued to seek out merger partners in order to maintain its position in the fast-consolidating U.K. accounting industry. This led the firm to its biggest merger to date, when it joined with Champness Cowper & Co. in 1982. That firm was nearly as old as Safferys itself, having been founded in 1868 by J.H. Champness and partner Maclerie. That firm also took up offices on London's Basinghall Street. Champness later formed a new partnership with J. Corderoy in 1886, at which time the firm's name became J.H. Champness Corderoy & Co. Champness grew again in 1945, becoming J.H. Champness Corderoy Beesly & Co. In 1974, the firm merged with Somerset Cowper & Co., a firm originally founded in 1915, becoming Champness Cowper & Co. Following its merger with Safferys, the enlarged firm adopted the new name of Saffery Champness.

Saffery achieved its more or less final form in 1987, when it merged with significant rival Armitage & Norton. Like both Saffery and Champness, Armitage & Norton, originally founded in 1868, had evolved through a series of mergers, especially during the 1970s. The addition of Armitage & Norton not only boosted Saffery Champness's London operations, but also added offices in Edinburgh and High Wycombe. These joined Saffery Champness's own Edinburgh office, opened in 1985, and another new office, established in Bournemouth that same year. Following the merger with Armitage & Norton, Saffery Champness extended its network again, adding an office in March.


Joseph John Saffery opens an accounting office in London.
The Champness and Maclerie accounting partnership is created in London.
The Armitage & Norton accounting firm is founded.
Saffery opens an office in Margate.
Saffery merges with Newman Ogle Bevan & Co.
The name is changed to Safferys.
The firm merges with C. McDonald & Co.; Champness merges with Somerset Cowper & Co.
Safferys opens a Guernsey office.
Safferys opens an Iverness office.
Safferys and Champness merge and become Saffery Champness.
Offices are opened in Edinburgh and Bournemouth.
The firm becomes a founding member of the SC International accounting network.
Saffery and Champness merges with Armitage & Norton; an office is opened in March.
An office is opened in Harrogate.
An office is opened in the northwest region of England.
The March office is transferred to Petersborough.
An office is opened in Bristol.
SC International merges with S&W International.
Saffery and Champness celebrates its 150th anniversary.
The firm creates a Professional and Consultancy Services group focused on the HR and recruitment sectors.


The growing international nature of the corporate market, with the emergence of a large number of multi-nationally operating companies, also stimulated the consolidation of the worldwide accounting industry. This in turn stimulated the growth not only of the world's Big Four accounting firms, but also the appearance of a number of international accounting partnerships. In 1986, Saffery Champness moved to safeguard its own competitiveness, becoming the founding member of the SC International accounting network. That body, later chaired by Saffery Champness's Clive Nicholson, grew to include more than 100 partner firms in some 50 countries across the world. In this way, Saffery Champness gained access to a global network with a local character.

The growth of SC International allowed Saffery Champness to focus its own operations on the United Kingdom. The firm grew again in 1992, adding a new office in Harrowgate. Two years later, the company added its first office in the northwest region of England. That office was subsequently moved to Manchester in 1999. Similarly, the firm transferred its March office to Peterborough in 1995. The final addition to the group's local network came in 1998, when Saffery Champness added an office in Bristol. In the meantime, SC International itself grew significantly, after its merger with S&W International in 1999. By the mid-2000s, SC International's billings had grown significantly, representing more than $450 million. Saffery Champness's own revenues were estimated to top £1.5 billion ($2.5 billion).

Part of Saffery Champness's success came in its ability to embrace new accounting trends and markets. As such, the firm became the first to provide audits for the United Kingdom's rapidly growing professional rugby league. In 2006, the firm responded to the specific demands of the fast-growing human resources and recruitment services sector by creating a dedicated Professional and Consultancy Services group for that market. After more than 150 years, Saffery Champness remained at the top of the U.K. accounting industry.


Saffery Champness Management International Limited (Guernsey).


Ernst and Young LLP; Grant Thornton Ltd.; BDO Stoy Hayward; PKF; Horwath Clark Whitehill; Deloitte and Touche LLP; BKR Haines Watts; Moore Stephens; Dynamic Commercial Finance plc; ADP Network Services Ltd.; RSM Robson Rhodes LLP.


"Accountancy Firm Counts on Flex," Employee Benefits, May 2002, p. 11.

"Happy 150th Birthday," Bristol Evening Post, January 4, 2005.

"Hill Climbs Up the Ranks at Saffery Champness," Accountancy Age, September 15, 2005, p. 18.

"Saffery Champness, Sponsors of the Lifetime Achievement Award," Harrogate Advertiser, March 24, 2006.

Sullivan, Ruth, "Moving Places: SC International," Financial Times, February 27, 2003, p. 13.

"Tax Opportunities in Asia Pacific," International Accounting Bulletin, January 28, 2006, p. 2.

"We're One of the Best to Work For," Bristol Evening Post, September 8, 2003.