ACCOUNTANCY firm Johnston Carmichael has opened its first office outside Scotland since it was founded in 1936 – setting up London premises.

The new office, which has a staff of four with another hire imminent, will target financial services clients. Johnston Carmichael will have 13 locations following the London opening, having moved recently into Dundee.

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The move into London is being spearheaded by financial services partner Ewen Fleming, who joined Johnston Carmichael in March. Mr Fleming worked previously for Grant Thornton.

Johnston Carmichael noted Mr Fleming had more than 30 years of experience in financial services, in industry and advisory roles.

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It cited retail banking, wealth management and business consulting as being among Mr Fleming’s areas of expertise.

Mr Fleming will be based between the London office, at Birchin Court in the City, and Edinburgh. Johnston Carmichael noted it had, over the summer, hired manager Sam Church, who also worked previously with Grant Thornton, and consulting senior Hyder Cheema, formerly of Ernst & Young, for the London office.

Audit technical director Chris Johnstone will also work in the London office.

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Asked what size the London office was expected to grow to, in terms of employee numbers, a spokesman for Johnston Carmichael replied: “Staff levels currently sit at four, with a new recruit imminent. There are no particular goals for growth of staffing levels and the team will grow to support client needs. The office will benefit from an extremely mobile team of staff who will support the office throughout.”

He added: “The decision to open the office is so the team can expand its financial services offering. The office is serving a mix of both existing and new clients.”

Johnston Carmichael flagged its review last year of proposed Royal Bank of Scotland branch closures as a recent high-profile piece of work in financial services. It was asked to consider whether each of 10 Scottish branches earmarked for closure by the bank should remain open or should shut as planned. Various factors were considered, including availability of alternative banking services to each community. The accountancy firm’s report, the findings of which were implemented by Royal Bank, recommended eight of the 10 branches should close, with two branches, at Castlebay on Barra and Biggar, remaining open.

Mr Fleming said: “With London and Edinburgh well-established as the UK’s key financial services hubs, launching an office in the UK capital is the obvious next step for Johnston Carmichael in expanding its financial services offering. It will enable us to work much more closely with our clients based in the south-east of England and it’s also important to building our network of contacts, including potential new staff, as we add to our growing team.”

Johnston Carmichael cited Mr Church’s experience in “leading client engagements involving complex change and technology optimisation”. It noted Mr Cheema’s “domestic and international experience...delivering complex change and performance optimisation”.