People: Alvarez & Marsal; LCF Law; SmartSearch; Andrew Jackson Solicitors; and more

Global professional services firm, Alvarez & Marsal, (A&M) continues to expand its EMEA Corporate Finance Practice with the appointment of Duncan Morpeth as a senior director.

He will lead the firm’s Corporate Finance team in Yorkshire and the North East, based in Leeds.

Morpeth specialises in advising founder-owners, executive teams, private equity sponsors and corporates on a range of domestic and cross-border transactions including fundraising, partial company exits, business exits and acquisition support.

Prior to joining A&M, he spent 13 years with Grant Thornton in the Leeds office. 

Establishing A&M’s corporate finance presence in Yorkshire and the North East, which is led by Jonny Marston, complements its existing service offering in the region and continues a period of rapid growth for the business.

Morpeth said: “It’s a great time to be building a corporate finance practice in Yorkshire and the North East as we expect strong deal activity this year and into 2025 across the country.

“With interest rates having stabilised and inflation now falling, it is becoming easier for dealmakers to price deals and plan ahead.

“There remains an abundance of private equity dry powder and a lot of exciting businesses in the region, particularly in the technology, tech-enabled services and healthcare sectors.”

“I was attracted by the compelling market opportunity to combine high quality, conflict-free corporate finance advice with the ability to leverage A&M’s platform such that businesses in the region can benefit from the firm’s deep and highly commercial sector expertise and gain access to its global network of international trade buyers and funders.

“To be part of a market leading global firm with a wide range of services in the region is an incredible proposition.”

Jonny Marston, managing director and regional restructuring lead, added: “Duncan’s arrival at our Leeds office is a significant moment in the growth of the firm in Yorkshire and the North East.

“We see a huge opportunity to expand our Corporate Finance services to the region, alongside our existing Restructuring team, as companies are set to attract even more investment in the coming years.

“As a firm, we are uniquely placed to support clients across the UK with our services from Corporate Finance and Transaction Advisory to Restructuring, Debt Advisory and Tax.”


LCF Law has confirmed that managing partner Simon Stell, who has led the firm for almost 30 years, is to step down from the role with partner and disputes specialist, Ragan Montgomery, taking up the position.

Stell joined LCF Law in 1995, when it was known as Last Cawthra Feather before becoming LCF Law in 2014.

Shortly afterwards, in 2016, he was named Yorkshire Lawyer of the Year at the Yorkshire Legal Awards.

Today, the firm offers corporate and personal legal services, with a team of more than 135 people across offices in Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate and Ilkley.

Stell will continue to work with Montgomery to assist with the handover. He will continue with the firm, acting as a mentor and sounding board as well as supporting the wider team.

In her new role, Montgomery will be responsible for overseeing LCF Law’s operations and leading the firm’s client service, growth and development strategies.

She has worked at LCF Law since 2003 and is currently operational head of the Dispute Resolution department.

She specialises in disputes concerning wills, trusts and inheritance, as well as property litigation and professional negligence claims. She is also a qualified civil and commercial mediator.

Montgomery said: “After joining 21 years ago as an assistant solicitor, to be appointed managing partner is a huge honour and it’s a challenge that I’m really looking forward to as we strive to build on our enviable reputation in Yorkshire and beyond.

“I’m taking over the role at a time when LCF Law is in a very strong position. Simon has never let the firm stand still and has always laid the foundations for future growth.

“We have a highly experienced group of 22 partners whose continued aim is grow the firm serving our existing clients, winning new clients to seek our advice and support as well as attracting the best people to join our team.”

Stell added: “Over the many years that I have been with LCF Law, there have been lots of changes, but we have always had a firm eye on the future, planning and modelling our strategic development, so that we can achieve our ambitions and the career aspirations of our colleagues.

“Five years ago, we began to look at a succession strategy and set about planning the structure and recruitment for the 2020s and beyond.

“One thing we were certain about was that law would still be a people business and we’ve worked hard to build a great team. I’m proud to remain a part of it in my new role. I very much look forward to supporting Ragan and continuing to be a dedicated contributor to LCF Law’s ongoing success.

“Ragan is a vastly experienced and highly respected lawyer who is always forward-thinking and has a natural ability to quickly identify and solve problems, which makes her very popular with clients, her colleagues and everyone she deals with.”


Ilkley-headquartered SmartSearch, a provider of digital compliance and anti-money laundering (AML) solutions, has appointed Phil Cotter to the position of chief executive officer.

It follows the completion of a majority investment by Triple Private Equity, as the business looks to continue its growth plans. Triple confirmed its intention to invest in March 2024.

Cotter brings a wealth of compliance, risk, and leadership expertise to the role, having held senior positions at the London Stock Exchange Group, Refinitiv, Thomson Reuters, and Experian.

Following the decision of outgoing CEO, Guy Harrison, to move on to take on a new opportunity closer to home, Triple Private Equity took the opportunity to help SmartSearch accelerate the talent search by making the introduction.

Cotter has been working as an external advisor to Triple and has worked with Triple’s Founding Partner, Ben Shepherd, for several years prior.

He will work with SmartSearch’s existing executive team, to drive sustained growth in the firm’s stronghold professional services markets, while also expanding its sales across all regulated sectors.

Cotter said: “SmartSearch is at the cutting edge in the digital compliance market, and it’s an incredibly exciting time to join this growing business.

“Organisations in regulated industries need to ensure they remain compliant in the markets within which they operate, while also keeping their customers safe from fraud and money laundering.

“These two challenges are intrinsically linked, and SmartSearch is perfectly positioned to help businesses rise to the task.”

Martin Cheek, co-founder and managing director of the business, said: “SmartSearch was born to help protect people and businesses from money laundering and fraud.

“This remains at the heart of our business. Now, with this significant investment from Triple and the vast industry expertise Phil Cotter brings to the role, I look forward to making it even easier for our customers to stay compliant, while going even further to protect them from money laundering and fraud.”

Ben Shepherd, founding partner of Triple Private Equity, added: “SmartSearch’s market-leading product and services and exemplary approach to customers has made it a category leader in the UK with significant customer traction and led by a great team.

“It’s great to be able to work with Phil again, and he’s undoubtedly the right leader to take SmartSearch to the next stage of their growth.”


Regional law firm, Andrew Jackson Solicitors, has made several promotions across the firm, which this year celebrates its 150th anniversary. 

Solicitors Yasmin Fenton and Harry Mills (real estate & property), Pippa Heuck (private client) and Grace Moreton (corporate) have been promoted as associates; Rikki Foster becomes a senior solicitor (litigation); and, Benn Shilleto and Sam Bailey have been promoted as trainee solicitor and paralegal respectively (corporate).

Fenton and Mills each have several years’ experience assisting clients in different sectors across a range of transactional commercial property work including sales, purchases and lettings, refinancing, development projects, overage agreements and option agreements. 

Heuck has many years’ experience assisting clients with the preparation of Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and applications to obtain Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration. She also deals with the administration of estates, assisting with complex estates.

With a strong corporate background, Moreton is an experienced restructuring and insolvency lawyer who advises across a range of non-contentious matters, which require specialist knowledge of company procedures including share allotments and transfers.

Managing partner, Mark Pearson-Kendall, said: “These latest promotions reflect the firm’s continued investment in our hardworking and dedicated team, and our commitment to the delivery of an excellent service to the businesses and individuals we work with. 

“Very well done to our newly promoted associates – Yasmin, Harry, Pippa and Grace – and to Rikki, Benn and Sam, all of whom have demonstrated their ability to deliver exceptional client services, which is what we aim to achieve right across the firm.

“As we celebrate 150 years since Andrew Marvell Jackson established the firm in 1874, we remain committed to retaining and recruiting the best talent from the region and beyond.”


Leeds-headquartered insurance broker, JMG Group, has appointed Simon Townsend as the regional managing director responsible for overseeing its operations in the south of England.

Brought on board to help JMG Group grow and support its acquired insurance broker businesses, Townsend brings over 30 years’ insurance experience gained in roles within national firms including HSBC, Towergate and Marsh. 

JMG Group has recently acquired several brokers in the South and has plans to grow further throughout the UK.

Townsend’s role will ensure acquired businesses are supported and the teams make the most of being part of JMG Group.

He said: “Throughout my career I have helped businesses to grow, nurtured their culture and enhanced service offerings, with the aim of delivering excellent services to clients.

“I’m committed to empowering businesses and supporting our people to be the best they can be. Joining JMG Group presents a fantastic opportunity for me to continue this mission. 

“My decision to join was largely influenced by the calibre of the business’s senior team – some of whom I have worked with in the past – and the growth journey they are on.

“I’m excited to share my experience of leading successful companies and I’m looking forward to helping our acquired businesses to seamlessly integrate into the JMG Group family, while I support their organic growth.”

Nick Houghton, CEO, said: “Having worked with Simon before, he was always on my radar to work with again – as he’s one of us, a terrific chap. 

“I’m so proud that as we grow, we create opportunities for great people to join the team. And I know the businesses Simon supports will enjoy his infectious enthusiasm and experience.”