People on the Move: BDO; Walker Sime; Brabners; Peaks & Plains Housing Trust

Steven Roberts

Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO has announced the promotion of Steven Roberts to partner in Manchester in its audit team.

The promotion is one of just 14 across the UK and follows the appointment of 10 new partners since the start of the year for BDO, including Liam O’Doherty in Manchester.

Steven is among three promoted in BDO’s audit practice, four in its tax team and seven in the firm’s advisory team.

He has considerable experience working with companies in a variety of sectors including manufacturing, retail and recruitment and across all forms of ownership sectors, from private equity to owner-managed business and listed groups.

Ed Dwan, partner and head of BDO in the North West, said: “This is a well-deserved recognition for Steven who has consistently gone above and beyond expectations.

“As well as making a significant contribution to the firm, he has made a real difference to his clients’ organisations in helping them achieve their goals.”

Steven added: “The North West is such a dynamic business community and has been a fantastic place to build a career at BDO. In my new role, I’m looking forward to continuing to add value to the firm, our clients and the wider businesses community.”

The firm’s recent merger with Moore Stephens makes it the UK’s number one accountancy and advisory firm focused on entrepreneurially-spirited, mid-sized businesses.

It employs 5,000 people across its 17 UK locations, with revenues approaching £600m. The firm has recruited more than 70 new partners to the partnership across the past three years.


Duncan Firth, 46, has been promoted to managing director of Walker Sime, the large regional property consultancy with offices in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.

Founders Des Walker and Jon Sime have assumed new roles focusing on quality, governance and client relationships.

Firth joined the business in 2015 tasked with establishing its project management division.

This followed a successful consultancy career which included delivering the City of Manchester Stadium in time for the Commonwealth Games and a period as a director of Deloitte where he delivered a number of key pieces of infrastructure for the London Olympics.

“We have a unique culture here that places our clients and our staff front and centre and it will be more of the same,” said Firth of his early priorities.

“The team here have built a really solid business over more than 20 years and my job will be to help them develop it further.”

The company’s culture was acknowledged earlier this year when trade bible Property Week named it the best place to work in the industry following a nationwide study.

Duncan Firth

“We don’t lose many people and that continuity has been key to our growth. Our projects tend to be quite lengthy and clients don’t like it when the consultancy team chops and changes,” said Firth.

Walker Sime has 85 employees and a turnover approaching £8m per annum and Mr Firth says maintaining the firm’s nimble and entrepreneurial culture will be vital as it continues to grow.

The company offers quantity surveying, project management, construction design management, bills of quantities and commercial consultancy services.

Current projects include Walker Sime’s role as project managers on Peel’s giant Liverpool Waters scheme; as advisors on Ask Real Estate’s emerging Medlock Street mixed use scheme in Manchester; and as cost consultants on Leeds Bradford Airport in Yorkshire.

Founding director Des Walker said: “This is a key part of our succession planning so that as new senior managers emerge from within they benefit from an even stronger business.”

Mark Parker has been promoted internally to fill Mr Firth’s previous role as director of the company’s project management division.


Independent legal practice Brabners has strengthened its private client team with the appointment of consultant Liz Braude.

Liz joins from Laytons and was previously the head of private client at Pannone before the firm merged with Slater and Gordon.

She has 20 years’ experience covering all aspects of the private client field and has acted for high net-worth families across the North West.

Liz’s areas of specialism include trust law and succession planning for family members with special needs such as learning or behavioural difficulties and physical disability.

She becomes the latest in a number of recent senior appointments across the firm’s Manchester, Liverpool and Preston offices including litigation partner Tom Smith, divorce law specialist Amy Harris, real estate partners Krista Powell and Helena Davies, healthcare regulatory partner Andrea James and construction law partner Elspeth Christie.

Nik White, managing partner at Brabners, said: “Our private client team has expanded rapidly, and boosting its presence in Manchester is a fundamental part of our plans for firmwide growth.

“We’re now more than half way through a three-year plan that has seen us deliver significant fee income growth year-on-year. I have no doubt that Liz’s experience will be integral to our private client team’s continued vital contribution as we build further momentum this year and into next.”

Liz Braude

Brabners’ Manchester-based private client team contributed to a 6% year-on-year increase in revenue for the wider private client practice group across all three of the firm’s offices in 2018.

Steven Appleton, partner and head of private client in Manchester at Brabners, said: “Liz is a fantastic addition to the team and her vast experience will be a crucial factor in our continued growth.

“She has an exemplary track record of delivering excellent client service, something that is vital in a legal area that often involves quite sensitive issues for the individuals and families we work with.”

Liz added: “Brabners’ reputation in the North West speaks for itself. The firm is able to maintain long-term relationships with clients through excellent service and by developing a deep understanding of their needs.

“As someone who has worked closely with families in the region across multiple generations, the value that Brabners places in relationships is why I’m sure it is the right fit for me.”


Macclesfield-based Peaks & Plains Housing Trust is continuing its ambitious recruitment drive with the appointment of Julie Booker as director of resources.

Ms Booker joins Peaks & Plains from Wythenshawe Community Housing Group where she was assistant director of finance.

Julie qualified as an accountant with BDO, and has worked both in practice and the private sector, bringing more than 20 years’ experience of finance in both commercial and not-for-profit organisations.

In her new position Julie will continue to build on the existing foundations of the trust’s progressive five-year plan, streamlining financial processes with a focus on the regulatory aspects of the housing sector.

Julie Booker

The profit-for-purpose housing provider currently oversees more than 5,000 homes across East Cheshire and the High Peak.

Ms Booker said: “Peaks & Plains stands out as one of the leading housing providers in the region and I was attracted by its ambitious plans for the future which are reinforced by a genuine passion from the team to create great places to live in the North West.

“I look forward to becoming an integral part of delivering the trust’s five-year plan.”

Tim Pinder, chief executive at Peaks & Plains, added: “Julie’s wealth of sector experience and knowledge of financial regulation will prove invaluable as we grow and continue to invest in the regeneration of Macclesfield – improving existing homes and building innovative new homes across tenures. I have no doubt she will be a valuable asset to the team.”

Peaks & Plains has now appointed 32 of the 42 new roles created as part of its commitment to delivering its five-year plan.