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This year is an important year for Haines Watts, seeing the culmination of a year of strong growth and some important changes to the leadership team. The story of the business is one of growth and unprecedented opportunity and the Haines Watts board intend to make full use of that momentum to take the firm to new heights. 

Changes to the Board

After fourteen years of excellent leadership, Andy Minifie steps down from the Board, with his role being taken over by myself as Group Managing Partner alongside Darren Holdway who will take on the redefined role of Group Chairman. At the same time, Rodney Style also steps down from his Board position as Chairman after twelve years. Donna Bulmer, a long-standing partner from the North East, becomes the newest member of the leadership team. 

Myself and Darren have each been with the firm for over 25 years, beginning as trainees and growing up through the business. Donna, has been with the firm over 20 years, having joined as a graduate. Together with the other board members, Andrew Bodkin and Chris Timms, our deep understanding of the firm’s DNA and the businesses it works with, gives them a clear vision of the opportunities that lie ahead – opportunities to build on a year of outstanding progress. 

Financial performance & acquisition

That outstanding progress comes in the form of Haines Watts’ most impressive growth for over a decade, the business having already demonstrated strong performance this year with annual growth to 31 March 2018 of 16% on turnover.

This has been generated in equal parts through organic growth and acquisition. The firm made numerous acquisitions in 2017 with those in the greater London region alone adding £5 million to turnover, complemented by acquisitions in the East Midlands, Thames Valley, South West and South East Midlands.

At an equity level, Haines Watts has shown a 22% increase in profit per equity partner. This should provide a strong signal to current and future clients alike that Haines Watts is a driven, well run, profitable firm.

Challenges

We are conscious that the workplace is changing and in order to stay relevant, the business needs to be nimble and align with the skill sets needed in the future. Some competencies are timeless, however, skills like emotional intelligence, problem solving and agility are becoming increasingly important. 

The landscape of talent is also evolving and the new leadership team understand the importance of establishing common purpose across the group through the embedding of the business’s core values and behaviours. 

Vision

Keeping these things in mind as we continue to spur forward, we are looking to three key areas in the years ahead to firmly align the business under a shared vision. 

Putting people first

People development is key to Haines Watts success in the future, encompassing and embracing the future of work as working environments, attitudes and cultures evolve. We are committed to placing definitive value on our people, through flexible working programs, wellbeing and coaching initiatives.

This focus on development is set to enrich an already dynamic workforce, with 54% of the workforce made up of millennials and already 15% made up of Gen Z bringing the average age of the workforce in Haines Watts to 36.

 Another hugely important part of this initiative is driving diversity, something we are already very focused on, with candidates coming from diverse social backgrounds and women now making up 40% of their Leadership Development Programme and 50% of the Managers Skills Programme.

That focus on people extends to clients too. Haines Watts is a business that works with the individuals, who own and run businesses, supporting them with the pressures, stresses and joys that come with running a company.

Beyond our own workforce, the firm will also be working with others in the sector to lobby on common issues faced in the accounting profession in efforts to improve the reputation and future of the profession. 

Client development

We are committed to continuing to invest in the aspirational business owner space, now and in the future. This will include focusing on the needs of our current and future clients through an increased understanding of their individual businesses. 

A clear value proposition, gathering client insight and creating a stronger client-centric culture throughout the firm will lay the foundation for continued focus on providing exceptional client service.

Market development

Looking externally, market development is pivotal to the growth plan, with the aim of building an external profile and attracting and nurturing new business and client relationships. Central to this is the launch of new services, including the potential for a new wellbeing offering. These additional services will complement our current advisory suite that is already the widest of our peers in the accountancy sector. The wellbeing offering aim to address the personal challenges of running a business that are so often overlooked.

The new leadership team has renewed energy and passion to take the firm forward and build on the growth of the firm over the past decade. All the board members have significant experience of growing their businesses and have strong Haines Watts DNA. 

I’ve overseen the growth of the Greater London Region from £3m to £30m in just over ten years with offices in Holborn, Esher, Finchley, Hornchurch and Bromley. I have been privileged to spend so much of my career at Haines Watts, and it’s not just me. The long tenure of so many board members, along with their average age of just 45, shows how much the company values its people and thrives on their rapid development. 

There’s a lot of energy in the team at the moment, a lot of ambition and huge potential. Under my predecessor, the business achieved growth and stability; we want to springboard off that success, show off our diverse range of expert advisers and aim even higher.

Darren Holdway has served on the Board for 10 years and has been instrumental in doubling the turnover of Haines Watts Birmingham office in just over 5 years. He also has increasing regional involvement in the successful growth of the Hereford and Worcester offices.

Darren has commented: “I love being a part of this passionate, lively team with a persistent drive for excellence, innovation and lifelong learning. The talents and attitudes of the people employed here represent the future of Haines Watts and our strategy is to keep investing in them, safe in the knowledge that the business will reap the rewards.”

Donna Bulmer has commented: “I’m proud to bring a different regional and personal perspective to the board to help Haines Watts continue the impressive momentum the firm is currently seeing nationwide. As part of my role on the board I’m keen to see the firm develop more talent from diverse social backgrounds, bringing in the sharpest and most promising minds wherever they may be found.”

Since becoming Managing Partner in the Northeast region four years ago turnover and people have more than doubled with further plans for growth. Donna brings a strong understanding of governance to the role gained from her other board positions.

With renewed focus and energy across the firm, the future looks bright for Haines Watts as it continues to focus on being the ‘go-to’ firm for aspirational business owners.

Find and contact your local Haines Watts office

About the author

Michael Davidson

Michael is the driving force behind the success of Haines Watts expansion in and around the M25 region. Michael joined Haines Watts in 1991 as a trainee and became a Partner in 1999. He specialises in, and is passionate about, advising owner managers with turnovers from £1 million to £20 million.

He challenges clients on their business and delivers advice in a very pragmatic way. Being an owner manager himself, his advice extends beyond financial input and he supports owners in managing the business through it‘s various cycles. This advice is underpinned by a ‘practical’ MBA completed at Cranfield School of Management.

Michael was voted on to the national Haines Watts Group Board in April 2008 and was made Group Managing Partner in 2018.

 

I’ve always thought it’s important to work with people you like – be it business owners, my team, suppliers or business acquaintances – so that you can laugh together and share the drama of experiences on the OMB rollercoaster.

I also think it’s very important to stay humble and be able to laugh at yourself.

I fear the day I don’t, to all of the above.

If I wasn’t doing this I’d be: a sports journalist.

Favourite Sports Team: Chelsea.

Dream Location: Naples, Florida.

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