A number of ACCA members are celebrating success in the recent Accounting Excellence Awards 2020. Winners of the awards – which highlight the hard work of professional accountants as individuals and within practices – include two firms that won their categories for the second year running.

As in 2019, the Fast-Track Firm of the Year award went to Flinder, co-founded by Alastair Barlow FCCA, while Pell Artists, founded by Stephen Pell FCCA, took the Specialist Team of the Year award again.

The Practice Pioneer of the Year award was won by Nathan Keeley FCCA, partner at MHA Carpenter Box. Inca Accounting, founded by Lesley Carson FCCA, picked up the Investing in People Award.

The Covid-19 Hero Award for an accountancy firm went to Kinder Pocock, founded by Sharon Pocock FCCA.

A tough year

‘It was a tough year for many businesses, including accountancy firms,’ said fast-track winner Barlow. ‘It has been challenging because they have had more questions than ever asked of them by their clients.’

Barlow’s firm has grown by an average of 91% a year since it was founded in 2017, and was even able to recruit seven people during the first UK lockdown.

Pocock, whose firm won the Covid-19 Hero Award, said she and her team had contacted all their clients ahead of the first lockdown, and continued to keep in touch to make sure they were managing areas such as cashflow and the various government support schemes.

Just as importantly, the award judges recognised that Pocock had focused on the health and wellbeing of her team. ‘We sent gifts and treats to keep the spirits up,’ she said. She also encouraged members to sign up for Joe Wicks’s online exercise sessions.

Asked for his advice for what other firms and individuals thinking about entering the awards should do, Barlow said: ‘Don’t think about it, just do it. It is a very powerful process and allows you to critically evaluate your business and what differentiates you. And it is great for the team as well.’