The day-to-day good that accountants do
Sometimes accountants get a bad press and sometimes it’s justified. But why let a few bad apples spoil it for the overwhelming majority of accountants globally who not only play by the books, but actively endeavour to do good in their communities.
As you’ll see below, accountants not only benefit their communities by supporting businesses, they go the extra mile.
The redhead who helps those in the red
Sam Dunlop, director, Prestigious Finance
‘I set up Prestigious Finance after being self employed for a number of years. I’d become incredibly busy very quickly that it was imperative to set up a company and recruit much needed staff to assist me. From the outset, I had a very clear vision of how I intended to set myself apart from other accountants/bookkeepers. I am down to earth and straight to the point, but being an accountant is much more than a job to me – it’s almost a vocation.
‘I really want to help my clients’ businesses succeed. It’s not simply a matter of doing their accounts for a period of time and taking the fees. I help with ideas for business growth and financial savings to maintain cash flow in the business. I have close relationships with all my clients, I believe in one-to-one contact and being available seven days a week. It’s vital to build up trust and connection so that they have someone to rely on and assist with the growth of their business.
‘I am a local business with deep roots in the community and, hence, I have a responsibility to go that extra mile – or, at least, that’s how I see it. I plan to expand Prestigious Finance to include a range of accredited experts to enable us to better assist with financial matters relating to running a business.
‘During Covid a lot of businesses were failing and going down the closure route. I didn’t want this to happen to my clients. As I said, I have a close connection with them and champion their success. Covid called for extra resourcefulness, however. I made sure I kept up to date with all the new government rules and regulations and the financial offers to businesses in the form of grants as it was imperative that my clients were doing everything they could to stay afloat and get through the pandemic. I am pleased to say that all of my clients continued to trade and are going full force with their business plans for the next 12 months.
‘The pandemic also caused a lot of people to lose their jobs. When I asked (repeatedly) if I knew of recruitment agencies that were able to assist my contractors with subcontractors (I do a lot of work in the construction sector), I did some research on how I could assist them myself. I opened MasterMind Recruitment and I had meetings with local job centres and councils to ask how I could assist the unemployed in the area. I am proud to say that I was able to place a lot of people who were in dire straits in jobs. Since then, I have continued to work closely with that sector in particular to help find employment. By having my two businesses running alongside each other, it has built up trust and a good rapport with a great many people.
‘I am a huge advocate of apprenticeship schemes to help the younger generation who have been especially hard hit by the pandemic find a career pathway into my industry. In my opinion, there’s nothing like mixing learning with hands-on work experience.’
Dominic Bonham, director of Bonham and Brook
‘At Bonham and Brook, our business is to grow our clients’ businesses. We do this with unrivalled industry expertise, passion and empathy for the client’s wants and needs. By providing our client’s safe, robust and reliable capital, we provide them firm foundations to ‘build big’. By providing our vibrant, dynamic and proudly diverse staff those same foundations to build big too, we strive together to improve industries and lives.
‘I spend a good deal of time reading economic commentary from the likes of Mariana Mazzucato, and other economists who are often critical of government policy and fiscal stimulus – they are consistently enlightening. She extensively critiques “productive” and “unproductive” parts of the economy. R&D tax credits are the fuel that fires production. By rediverting capital away from unproductive sectors of the UK economy and into innovation, the economic impact is substantial. There are benefits at every level. New technologies are produced to change lives, new businesses are launched to create more and higher quality jobs, productivity rises and economies at every scale prosper.
‘We’re in the privileged situation whereby we enable companies to access tax reliefs and grants based upon their innovation. By having the very best specialists, not only in tax, but technical specialists in every industry, we understand the challenges faced by our clients, which is imperative to do this effectively.
‘Recently, as a combination of Innovate UK and R&D tax relief, we were able to secure a Scotland-based health tech firm a million pounds to counter musculoskeletal problems in the elderly and the infirm. We can already see the trickle down effect that it is having on the local supply chain. It’s great to be able to help companies that help others!’
Luke Fletcher, CEO/founder, Raw Accounting
‘As accountants, we’re able to support several businesses at the same time, helping them navigate challenges and grow — that’s something that always appealed to me and is why I pursued accountancy. A decade on, sadly, I still believe there are SMEs simply not getting the advice or support they need. Ultimately, that’s why I set up Raw, and we’re now on a mission to change that and empower SMEs.
‘Accounting is about a lot more than year-end accounts or tax returns; it’s about giving business owners the information they need to make better decisions — this is what we mean by empowering SMEs. We do this by combining a range of tools, like cloud accounting, that give us a real-time view, with good old fashioned client relationships. By working closely with business owners week in, week out, we understand their problems and are better placed to help solve them.
‘I think accountants have a really important role to play in local communities — from helping to train and develop the leaders of tomorrow to delivering financial expertise to small, local businesses who are the backbone of Britain’s economy.
‘Personally, I’m interested in the idea of more accountants using their financial acumen to help reduce financial illiteracy too. I’d love to see some partnerships with schools teaching the fundamentals of good money management to teenagers.’
Andrew Fuller FCCA, client manager, accounting and business advisory, McBrides Accountants
‘Being an accountant is akin to being a trusted business adviser. As an accountant to an SME, your role is bigger than just informing your client of their tax liability and ensuring they are meeting filing deadlines. You are often helping to sort out matters that aren’t always accounts or tax related.
‘SMEs are typically family businesses, so as well as having discussions on where the business is today, you can even assume the role of mediator between family members. In the case of start-ups, you often find you are heavily involved in getting their business up and running. This means you are involved in helping the client set off on the right foot in terms of maintaining records, meeting deadlines and ensuring the relevant controls are in place.
‘With cloud software such as Xero, accountants have access to the company’s live accounting data and are therefore able to advise the business on up-to-date and pressing matters such as cash flow forecasting, predicted tax liabilities and financing and lending decisions. As a result, you become a much-valued adviser and extended member of the business’s finance team.
‘As a professional, we have a moral and ethical obligation to our clients, many of whom are based in local communities. This comes from our privileged position arising from the knowledge of various accountancy and tax rules and regulations.
‘It is right to support the communities that we are within where we can. Here at McBrides, we have strong links with our local community borne out by the projects we get involved in. For example, we support local artists with our Boardroom Art scheme, we regularly support local charities as our charity of the year, and we have helped local schools with careers days and donations for fundraising.
‘We also regularly take part in the Bexley Apprentice Fair, where we meet between 2,000-3,000 young people to talk about life as an accounting apprentice advertising vacancies that we may have for that year. Recently, our business taxes director participated in a local council webinar to help inform residents and businesses about the tax and green advantages on electric cars.
‘From my own personal perspective, I always look to the environment and issues around us and seek to minimise the impact we have as a firm by printing less and being aware of how we deal with our waste in the community. Apprentices that we train have been drawn fairly locally from the community, and it’s good to see us providing these opportunities as a firm.’
Author: Neil Johnson, journalist