Haines Watts has released its latest financial results, reporting three per cent like-for-like revenue growth in FY21, with credit being given to the team’s resilience and fortitude in the face of a challenging year in UK business.
The growth has been driven by the nationwide accountancy group’s continued acquisitive ‘buy and build’ strategy as well as organic service growth across the regions and focus on rounder advisory services.
Managing partner Michael Davidson said: “We are pleased to close off last year in a strong position and I want to give special credit to the Haines Watts people across the UK who have worked tirelessly to continue to support our clients through a turbulent time. Consistently providing advisory support to our clients facing a challenging climate has been our number one priority over the past year and we have been able to apply the expertise we have in all aspects of business to ensure that we had our clients backs when they needed us.
“We have made ten acquisitions over the year and are confident that we will be back in double digit growth by start of FY22. Tax has continued to be our strongest service line, as unsurprisingly tax structuring is a major aspect of running a business in challenging times, and as a result we have brought in a ten strong team from a boutique in London to further expand our tax offering.
“With payroll being another obvious growth area throughout last year, like most mid-tier firms we are benefitting from businesses migrating from the Big 4 due to their capacity limitations. Interestingly, we have also seen growth in demand for individual wealth management, succession planning and inheritance tax. With the experience we all had over the last year it is natural for our clients to adjust their perspective and we are certainly seeing a trend in business owners accelerating plans to structure wider family wealth or thinking about succession much earlier than they traditionally would.”
Haines Watts has over 40 offices across the UK and operates a regional model across 10 regions to support its local offices.
Davidson added: “We know that our regional model works well, especially in times of change and our strategic vision is to continue to build a strong regional infrastructure to support the offices across the UK. With this in mind we have recently made two senior appointments, a CIO and CMO to support the regions to achieve our ambitious growth plans. The appointment of a CIO is a major hire for Haines Watts, it means we can solidify our processes and leverage from a consistent platform.”
With the face of the workplace shifting over the last year, Haines Watts has adapted and challenged what the working environment looks like for their teams, creating an environment fit for the future. The firm is investing in office upgrades across the UK and has taken advice from teams of experts, including behavioural specialists to create the optimum workspace.
“Our new office upgrades are taking an almost ‘half café, half library approach”, says Davidson, explaining that staff research showed a spectrum of fresh thinking around noise levels, collaboration hubs or modern flexi options.
“We will have a range of spaces for staff to use, depending on what they need to achieve – while we will still have the banks of desks and computers for individual working, other spaces will have more of a ‘living room’ approach which encourages collaboration, conversation and ideas as well as a ‘kitchen’ approach for smaller groups or one to one sessions.”
In 2021 Haines Watts made it into the UK’s Top Ten accountancy and advisory practices to work for by Best Companies after investing in staff wellbeing, culture development and mindfulness support during the pandemic.
The accolade comes after it secured a prized one-star accreditation for employee engagement from Best Companies. According to Best Companies, the 1-Star accreditation shows ‘very good’ levels of workplace engagement.
Davidson has urged more companies to invest in staff wellbeing and mindfulness to mitigate the long-term impact of the pandemic. “Employee engagement has become more important than ever before and we have worked hard over the past year to make sure we not only maintained standards, but improved them,” he said.
“We have made significant investments into our people, culture and support systems, which have become more crucial still as the pandemic forced lockdowns and home working on most of us.
“As a heartfelt thank you to our people for their unwavering support through this past year, most colleagues are getting some additional time off.
“I’d certainly like to see more companies invest in wellbeing and business resilience: these are values that will make a business more attractive to investors and which will provide better structure and a shared sense of purpose, all of which make a business much more likely to succeed long-term.”
Supporting diversity in the industry is an area that Davidson and the board are passionate about and in 2021 they made the decision to support Team Bath Netball and Reach Next Generation with the aim of inspiring the next generation of female leaders.
Michael added: “This isn’t just a tick-box exercise for us. We are committed to supporting diversity in areas where there have been big challenges in the past. We have gone out to actively find projects where we can make a real impact. As a leadership team we come from a range of non-traditional backgrounds and there is a talent war happening right now, with a capacity gap running at about 25 percent.
“The skills shortage is a real challenge in the industry right now and we are trying to lead the way by ‘fishing in different ponds’ for the best talent. As we continue into the advisory space, I see us taking on quite a few people in the business who are not accountants at all – they will be people who have come from different backgrounds and with different skills that business owners and people who run businesses need, but that aren’t necessarily accountancy driven.
“I am interested in growing our business on a platform of diversity of thought and of skillset – if you look at what the future of what being an accountant looks like, that’s where the real opportunity is.”