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The History of Alex Picot – Where are They Now?

Wednesday 03 August 2016

The German Occupation of the Channel Islands caused huge disruption to lives of people and businesses in Jersey. After five long years of living under invading rule, some companies had experienced too much trauma to bounce back. Alex Picot and his loyal typist Lillian du Feu were the only staff remaining at the firm when troops invaded. They worked tirelessly under precarious circumstances to help their practice continue. When the island was liberated, Alex’s sons Donald and Leslie returned home and were there to take over the firm when Alex died in 1948, and continued his legacy by growing the business.

The 1960s were a successful period for the Channel Islands and their accountancy trade. Following the exam success of Donald’s sons Anthony and Rodney, the firm was a happy home to several other local talents. Caroline Canning-Byrd was the first local woman to qualify as a chartered accountant, and after her humble Island beginning, went on to become a partner in a London firm. Placing 17th in the intermediate examination and receiving a certificate of merit, Peter Cummins was another valued member of the firm, before eventually becoming a university professor in New Zealand, teaching accountancy.

In 1967, both Anthony and Rodney were made partners in the firm, with Rodney having gained his two-year work experience in New Zealand. Around the same time, accountant Alan Burt was brought into the Guernsey office as a firm partner, while old-timer Sam Seymour unofficially retired, although he would continue on a casual basis for almost another 20 years.

The early ‘70s brought several changes to the firm, prompted by Leslie’s retirement, when he chose to go to Zambia with his wife Dorothy to be bursar to a missionary school. With his departure, Cambridge graduate and newly qualified accountant Rod Amy, who had been articled to Rodney in 1968, was brought in to replace Leslie. With the several new recruits, and the lease of the premises at Number 24 due to expire, expanded office space was needed very soon. The entire No.24/26 building was occupied by the firm, where it would remain for a further ten years before the building was outgrown entirely.
The '70s also saw a growth in trust company work of which the first was undertaken in 1935. However, this new territory was never really explored until after the Occupation when it was given the opportunity and resources to flourish.

Donald soon followed Leslie’s suit and took retirement, which he dedicated to the Methodist Church he devoutly attended, though he remained a partner in the firm. Shortly before this, country cousin David Picot had stepped in to take over for Anthony, who left for the West Country, where many of the non-Jersey-based Picots live to this day.

After an incredible 98 years spent in Hill Street, the Alex Picot group finally outgrew the premises and went searching for an office that could replace the beloved former building. A nearby building on Broad Street presented a solution, though the relocation would be rather temporary due to insufficient space, with the firm moving to Paragon House in Halkett Place a mere seven years later.

As ever, the relocation warranted new members of the club, and in an unusual move, the practice advertised both locally and in the UK. Steve Gough, a city chartered accountant from Warwickshire, was eagerly added to the line-up, and became a partner quite soon after. His dab hand at cricket and technical expertise were a welcome addition to the Island and to the firm. Unfortunately Steve had to retire in 1997 due to health reasons.

With trust company work expanding, this lead to a degree of required specialisation as regulations around the world increased and has built experience working closely with families and providing, effectively what may be called family office services. The final missing piece was found in the form of local Andrew Le Cheminant, who was inducted in 1990 to work alongside David Picot to maintain the practice’s local ambience. 1990 saw the formal establishment of Alex Picot Trust which compliments the offerings of the accountancy firm. Its formation was a forward looking step and proved essentials in the upcoming days of increased regulation and specialisation. Alex Picot Trust today has three dedicated and loyal directors; Andrew Le Cheminant, Derek Rhodes and Chris Cotillard. Derek joined the company in 1992 as an audit manager and became a director of Alex Picot Trust in 1998. He specialises in trust and company formation and administration, liaising with the firm's global network of professional intermediaries. In 2006, Chris joined the company and became director in 2014. Chris is a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Advisor, also specialising in company formation and administration for trusts and companies for Jersey residents and international clients. He is also responsible for tax reporting throughout the company.

Paragon House underwent major refurbishment in the early ‘90s, designed to maximise efficiency as an office space. Boardrooms and open-plan offices with raised flooring to accommodate new computer equipment were added, with internal car parking and lift, to bring together the fragmentary structure the firm had acquired since being based at Broad Street. The new premises fulfilled the firm’s requirements for a close-knit and ‘happy family’-type company.

Despite being deliberately small in size and completely independent, Alex Picot continues to thrive in Jersey, where it still serves several of the island’s leading companies. Over the years it has been home for some, and start line for others, with several of its former employees now running their own practice. Staying strong when faced with the era of the ‘mega-mergers’ and the exponential obstacles faced by small businesses, Alex Picot keeps independence and minimalism at its core. Although expansion in the field has been considerable for the firm, they are proudest of being the small local firm that Jersey has known for over 100 years, and look forward to 2085 when they can celebrate their 200th birthday.