I fell into accountancy; it was never something I’d ever thought about pursuing. But when I left school, I just happened to get a job in accounting and realised I absolutely loved it. I’m still in love with it now. I always thought an accountant was somebody who sat and played with numbers all day, but I've realised that it's more about building relationships with clients and speaking to people, and that’s the bit I enjoy the most.
My first job in accounting came with a training contract for AAT. I completed that over a couple of years and then took the ACCA Qualification, passing first time on all papers (but there are no badges for that!). I stayed with that firm for over 13 years but knew I needed to move in order to get the experience I needed to progress. When I went to my next firm, I realised there was still so much to learn in so many different areas.
There's nothing better than when a client says that now that we’ve explained it, they finally get it
Changes within the practice meant I wasn’t going to be able to make the impact that I wanted. So another colleague, Katie Hackling, and I set up our own firm, Clarative, and it's gone from strength to strength.
The greatest challenge right now has to be Making Tax Digital (MTD). When we first started Clarative, we made a conscious decision to only work with companies over the VAT registration threshold; we knew that MTD would be easier to introduce to those businesses. I know a lot of accountants who work with smaller clients, and with MTD coming in for sole traders and partnerships first, I think they're going to have a really hard time convincing clients that they'll need to do more than one tax return a year, and that they're going to have to pay for it.
For us, it's about educating about how important it is to keep good records. After all, if you're going to get taxed every quarter based on the figures in your accounting records, don't you want them to be as accurate as possible?
Setting up Clarative has been the most daunting thing I’ve ever done
We specialise in construction, partly because we know a lot of people in the industry have always felt uncomfortable speaking to their accountant. We enjoy teaching them how it all works, and there's nothing better than when a client says that now that we’ve explained it, they finally get it.
Setting up Clarative has been the most scary and daunting thing I’ve ever done. But it’s been so worth it and I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved. Katie and I have different strengths – I get to do all the exciting marketing stuff, and she deals with all the boring stuff (like insurance and IT)!
Accountants should be seen as real business partners to a company. We need to move away from the old-fashioned idea of an accountant being someone who deals with historic accounts, to someone who helps drive a business forward. We want to help clients to better their business through real-time management accounts and by offering business advisory support.
My husband and I have two boys (aged six and 10) who keep us busy. Throw into the mix a chocolate labrador who needs a lot of walking , and that just about takes up all of my free time. I do enjoy the walking, especially in the sunshine.