It started with a big bang

MJ Hudson, Europe’s first alternative assets-only law specialist, started out as a one-man-in-a-shed firm in the midst of the global economic crisis.

Since then, the firm has expanded to more than 100 professionals and moved away from pure law, offering a full range of services including fiduciary, administration and regulatory reporting. And the man behind this unique offering, Matthew Hudson, has no intention of stopping there.

“We’re aiming to be a one-stop shop for the small-cap manager, and eventually for the larger firms. We’ve a few gaps to fill in the regulatory consulting area, and the same in the administration arm, which we’re looking to do this year,” Hudson tells pfm.
This will be done through a combination of organic growth and further acquisitions; in November 2016 the firm acquired investment advisor Allenbridge and outsourced fund management provider Tower Gate Capital.

“The decision was driven by client demands, but there was still some nervousness that we’d be seen as having too much back office control. But the clients have been very positive,” Hudson says.

“They can pick and choose which services they want to use, or they can take advantage of the cost and efficiency benefits of the full offering.”

As well as its wide range of services, the structure of the firm sets it aside from its peers in the legal space – MJ Hudson is established as an alternative business structure rather than as a traditional partnership.

“We were one of the first UK law firms to take advantage of an act of parliament allowing law firms to be companies and have external backing by non-lawyers. This was the big bang of law,” Hudson says.

The firm’s external investors have a 25 percent stake in the business. The remaining 75 percent is held by Hudson and the firm’s management, while staff are also entitled to buy stock via an employee share program. This access to private capital has facilitated the firm’s rapid growth, and is likely to be drawn upon to fund future expansion, Hudson adds.

“If we are going to expand our offering to the larger firms, we need to be much bigger. Public money might be considered to fund this, but there are certainly no plans at the moment for an IPO,” he adds, putting paid to rumors such a move was imminent.
And as for expanding the MJ Hudson team, Hudson says there is the opportunity to take on the staff within a private fund team that would be charged with providing the services to the manager.

“Running the back office is a huge task for a private fund firm; this model would allow managers to focus on making the money, and let lawyers be run by other lawyers, administrators by other administrators, etc. It’s a trend we’re already seeing in the hedge fund space, it’s only a matter of time before it happens elsewhere in the private funds world,” Hudson says.

And when a man with Hudson’s track record tells you that, you’re inclined to believe him.