How do you think the evolution of technology will affect the industry?
It’s only going to benefit the industry, it will change the structure of firms and make our outputs much more impactful. We are already becoming much more advisory, and this will continue to be the case as we have more tech and data at our fingertips. As more young people come though the sector who are much more tech savvy, accountancy professionals will move much more into being translators and interpreters, meaning we can really challenge, and problem solve what the information is telling us.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt in your career?
We’ve all learnt through making mistakes and found that failure can be a strength as long as you learn from it. We’ve collectively learnt to be brave. You get far with thinking positively and often it is much more important to make a decision and move forward than to labour over nuances.
It’s also important to stand in the shoes of the other person and really listen to what they are saying to you, we have two eyes, two ears and only one mouth which says it all really!
Haines Watts has invested a lot in building a strong company culture – why is that important to you?
It's vital; a business can’t thrive when everyone doesn't understand the why behind what they are doing. For us, culture is the starting point, we have to live and breathe it every day and encourage our teams to do the same. Our culture is what we have in common, our values help build and maintain strong teams, people work best and happiest when they are part of a culture that they can relate to and feel proud of – the challenge is how we communicate our values and attract clients and people that are aligned to how we think and feel.
Tell us something that would surprise people about you as a group?
We’re not all incredibly outgoing and cold-blooded business people, we can be quite sensitive and introverted. Not naming names but one of us did take up tap dancing aged 12 to help with their football skills and we also have a descendant of the founders of Galway, a city in the Republic of Ireland, round the table!
If you could be in a room with four business people, who would it be?
This question caused a lot of debate around the team – and Warren Buffett’s name came up a lot, we’re fascinated by his philanthropy and his intent to donate 99 percent of his wealth to charity. In the end we went for Sheryl Sandberg, a powerful woman who has had some tough times but has an incredibly interesting story, Elon Musk, who thinks anything is possible, Ann Boden, the founder of Starling Bank who really paid attention to how the world had changed and what people truly wanted and finally, Jeff Bezos!