I studied mathematics at university and always wanted to get into IT. But after working for years in investment accounting, latterly in accounting tech, I got interested in tech start-ups, and it was a natural progression to move into a full-time, qualified accountant position pulling together all of these skills.
I worked in the investment management sector for 14 years before moving into practice so have experienced the best and worst of both worlds! Working in practice can provide unlimited entrepreneurial and lifestyle opportunities that don’t often occur in a corporate role. I don’t see myself ever going back into a large financial institution, but you never know.
Accountancy today is as much a technical analysis job as it is traditional tax and audit
One of the big issues for accountancy today is a lack of graduates with sufficient interest or skills in areas such as data analytics and software development. Accountancy today is as much a technical analysis job as it is traditional tax and audit.
Steedman Accountants is a second-generation practice started by my father in 1987. Our main focus is now on SME-level tech start-ups, scale-ups and crypto accounting/tax. Our chief challenge is an over-reliance on compliance work, which is at risk of being phased out by technology, but at the same time we are ahead of the game in areas such as crypto accounting, which has provided us with new revenue streams such as data management and education. We are members of CryptoUK, the industry trade body that represents crypto businesses in the UK, providing input to the development of regulation and legislation in consultation with HMRC, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Treasury.
I think the UK is in an interesting place with the crypto industry at the moment. On the one hand, the chancellor is announcing that the UK is set to become a global crypto powerhouse; at the same time the FCA is trying to form fit-for-purpose regulation, and HMRC is trying to provide guidance on how to tax obscure crypto assets such as non-fungible tokens in a sector that is evolving at light speed. I feel that, as the proper regulation comes in, the UK is a good place for aspiring blockchain and crypto start-ups to be.
My advice to anyone starting out in practice would be to adopt a digital-only policy from the beginning. You’ll need to research the various products and platforms thoroughly to find the correct tools for your type of business and clients, and keep an eye on subscription costs, as it is easy to end up with too many software packages are not being fully utilised.
The more accountants understand the workings of the tools they use, the better advice they can give
Accountants shouldn’t just be accepting what software companies are offering us now to solve our problems. We need to get ahead of them and understand the current and future gaps, and get involved with the development of the technology as the market demands it. The more accountants can understand about the fundamental workings of the tools they are using, the better working practices they can develop and the better advice they can give.
I have an amazing team who are all self-managed and highly motivated, and make me laugh every day. We have focused our efforts on building a culture that attracts and retains the right type of people for the type of practice we want to be. Everyone fully invests in our values – teamwork, appreciation, professionalism, proactivity, innovation and responsibility. We want to be a company that aspiring tech-focused accountants and trainees want to be part of.
Most of my leisure time is spent in the outdoors walking and hiking with my wife, Nicola, and my two dogs. We spend a lot of time in the Lake District, where we have recently bought a house. I enjoy running, and trying to keep up with a hyperactive three-year-old labrador is a good way of keeping fit.