Shift Advisory - a new model for a traditional industry

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A recent study by Suncorp New Zealand shows that the traditional business model is being disrupted, with 32% saying they have changed their business model in the past five years, and 29% saying that they plan to in the near future.

Shift Advisory is one of the businesses that is looking outside of traditional models and finding a new way to do business. 

A small legal and compliance firm led by directors Prue Tyler and Kate Watt, Shift Advisory is shaking up the traditional hierarchy of the ‘big firms’ and creating a space in the market for senior lawyers – often women - to balance doing what they do best with life outside work.

Prue Tyler, Shift Advisory

“We were both on a career path to succeed in our profession, but the challenge, as with many industries, is how to do that and have - and see - your children too. The traditional law firm model, especially with its tendency for very long hours, can make it difficult to have a fulfilling career and spend time with your family,” says Prue Tyler. “We looked at the decade of training and all that excellent experience and thought, we’re not bowing out. Let’s find a way to deliver services in a more flexible manner that works for both lawyers and consultants looking to work differently, and for clients.

Shift Advisory was inspired by an overseas model which provides lawyers and consultants on secondments and remote legal servicing. The model taps into a market of senior, often female, lawyers who have dropped out to have a family, and makes them available to clients in a new way.

“Our model is a more efficient and cost-effective way of doing things which is transforming the experience for both the client and for our team.”

While the Suncorp New Zealand research showed that just over two-fifths (43%) of respondents have noted industry disruption over the past five years, Prue Tyler says the legal profession could be doing more to keep up with change.

“I do feel like the time is right to embrace change and disruption because people are after more balance in their lives - making meaningful time for family and life outside of work. The onus is on the whole business community, including law firms, to continue to find ways to be good corporate citizens, to foster the wellbeing of their workforce and to retain talent - especially great female talent - to increase diversity at senior levels.”

Kate Watt, Shift Advisory

Suncorp’s research shows that 32% of businesses don’t think digital platforms will affect their business, but Ms Tyler says technology is an enabler for new ways of working.

“In-house legal teams are increasingly being asked to do more with less so we offer an alternative way of structuring their legal spend. We run a virtual environment of practitioners right across New Zealand, which means low overheads but access to the same senior resource.” 

“Our team is highly-experienced, but because of the way we operate, we’re able to give clients the benefit of the team’s skills and experience much more cost-effectively than a traditional law firm could ever hope to do,” says Ms Tyler.  

“If the top New Zealand law firms are in the other 29% that have not changed their business model and don’t intend to, then there’s a real risk that they are going to get left behind,” says Prue Tyler.

Suncorp New Zealand would like to thank Shift Advisory for sharing their story.

About the Suncorp New Zealand Business Success Index

In 2018 Suncorp New Zealand spoke to 600 New Zealand companies to find out what success today looks like for them and how they are tracking in the 12 months since the inaugural Suncorp New Zealand Business Success Index launched in June 2017. 

Suncorp New Zealand conducts the annual survey to find out what is important to businesses, what is holding them back, how they perceive risk, and how they see their businesses evolving in a disruptive market.  

The 2018 findings show buoyant business optimism, but a reluctance to take risks in order to be successful and general complacency towards disruption.

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