Ince Gordon Dadds has found an elegant solution to the gloom of January - pretend it's already happened.
"Happy Burns Night from all of us at Ince", declared the firm as the calendar flipped over from 31 December to 1 January.
One minor issue: Burns Night is not until 25th January, although skipping a month is a masterstroke from Ince given its embarrassing start to 2023.
On 22 December the listed firm announced that it was unable to publish its results for 2022 because its new auditors, BDO, had been stumped by the company books. Ince was forced to admit that the beancounters had told the firm "the complexity of historic and legacy accounting issues" meant they required "more time to conclude their outstanding audit work".
The upshot of its tangled accounts was a humiliating announcement to the market that Ince's shares would be suspended from trading on AIM with effect from 3 January. The suspension will remain in place until the firm can produce its audited results.
It is not the only fire the company's new CEO, Donald Brown, has to fight. The Ince Group's share price has collapsed from a high of 88p in April 2021 to 5p immediately pre-suspension.
Predicting tough times ahead, an insider said, "They are hemorrhaging partners at an alarming rate". They cited the departure from the London office of the heads of real estate, employment, corporate, and dispute resolution, along with seven corporate partners in the last 12 months, and the heads of risk, private wealth, business development, and operations.
Ince is not just wishing a time machine into existence to tackle its issues - it is apparently also throwing up obstacles to prevent dissenters from organising. "Most recently the senior management have blocked people from sending informal internal communications to more than 25 recipients at a time to try and stem the mutterings of discontent", claimed a source.
Rumours are also swirling about the identity of the troublesome guest who landed the firm in the headlines last year by allegedly being a snobby pest to a waitress.
Ince conducted an internal investigation into the affair, but its conclusions were never made public. If the allegations passed to RollOnFriday are accurate, the report does not appear to have had much bite. A source said it was "all very well for chairman Simon Howard to say, 'where appropriate, action has been taken', but then to elevate the main offender...is a bit rich".
The Ince Group is now selling off Arden, the corporate broker which it bought for £10 million in 2021, to raise some much-needed funds. In a neat bit of symmetry, Ince's shares were suspended then, as well.
Oddly, Brown's profile on Ince's website doesn't mention that his previous role was as the CEO of Arden, claiming instead that "Most recently he was a Managing Director at the Royal Bank of Canada", when in fact he appears to have left that position in 2017 to join the brokers.
An Ince partner who posted the premature Burns Night good wishes on Linkedin included a line from Auld Lang Syne: "And here's a hand, my trusty fiere, and gie's a hand o' thine". Interpreted as a request for help, her plea for a hand is encouraging news for investors worried about their INCE stock, and as such ROF's tip is: strong buy*.
The Ince Group did not respond to multiple requests for comment, although RollOnFriday did get a bounceback from the company's recent PR hire stating that she has already left the business.
*ROF is not a regulated financial advisor and your investment may Burns up.