Innovative Leaders: My Controller

We spoke to Greg Parrish, Director of accountancy and tax practice, My Controller, to find out more about his company, the UK business environment and his secrets for success

My Controller is an innovative, award winning and expanding accountancy & tax practice with offices in Berkshire, supporting businesses throughout the Thames Valley.

“The past two years have seen some significant strategic moves which you wouldn’t typically associate with your average accountant,” Parrish says. Indeed, when you dig a little deeper, you soon realise there is nothing average about this firm. When you walk in to their Windsor office you would be forgiven for assuming you’ve entered a design consultancy, and their clean desk policy is a far cry from the mountains of paper often associated with traditional firms.

Looking ahead, this dynamic company is embracing change and has already beta-launched a new cloud based offering.  When director Debbie Parrish was asked what she was looking forward to in the new year, she said, “Aside from a well-earned break for everyone at the end of this year, we’re really looking forward to officially rolling out our cloud based product in 2015. We’ve invested a lot of resource in to ensuring we have a relevant place in the market and the initial feedback has been fantastic.”

Where My Controller differs from many accounting practices is that they truly tailor their service to meet the needs of the client.  Not only does that mean they can support start-ups and much larger organisations in a way to suit their individual objectives, it means that they can truly support the evolution of their clients too.

The company website makes a strong initial impression for the brand and there are plans to open up new content areas to further support clients going forward.  You only have to look at the company twitter feed to see the buzz and genuine desire to help that surrounds everything this team does.  As if all of this wasn’t enough, they have also recently published a book on Amazon Kindle called Running a Better Business – A Guide to Improving Intuitive Intelligence.

Asked how he would describe the current UK business environment, Parrish says it is, in one word, challenging. “It sounds a cliché, but as we have pulled out of the recession many businesses and sectors remain cautious. This in turn translates to business owners demanding to see clear value from their investments and spend more than ever before. As a service provider in control of their business and with the customer at the centre of everything we do, this represents far more of an opportunity for us than a threat. By offering exceptional value for money and thinking about the client as you design and deliver your services, then you certainly stand out from your competition.”

Over the past few years, a major challenge facing business leaders has been low confidence levels, Parrish says. “Specifically for the SME market, it is judging the balance between protecting what you have and investing for the future.  By investing, I would include increasing the numbers in your workforce.  In terms, of specific legislation of government initiatives, I would call out three in particular.  These are: Apprentice Schemes, Growth Vouchers and Growth Accelerator. These are three very positive initiatives that can really help the right companies to drive business growth and business improvement.

The main attributes that any business leader needs to possess to be successful, he says, are simple: clarity of vision, ability to listen and drive.

“When I talk about clarity of vision, this really means the ability to think and relate to your customer.  Make sure that what you do is ‘relevant’ to them. Then be able to build your offering(s) out in such a way that it is absolutely clear. Clear to your customers that ‘you help’, clear to your staff so that they know what is the right thing to do.  Clear to your suppliers or partners what is expected from them.  This will take a lot of listening!  Then you need to have the focus to continuously drive that.  In My Controller, we simply say ‘you should always do your best to do your best!’”

My Controller always starts with the client and their perspective, says Parrish. “Our goal with our clients is simple.  We always strive to help them improve their profitability and retained cash! With our team we invest a lot of time and money on training. Specifically for clients and our service levels we have invested in a library of guidance notes on key business and tax areas that are relevant to SMEs. This not only helps us provide a better level of service, but it ensures that we are consistent with our views and approach.  In terms of determining what areas we need to focus our investment, again we think about those areas that will create challenges for our clients.  If they will need help and we think it is an area that we should be best equipped to help with, then we spend the time, effort and money in that area.”

Looking forward, Parrish thinks that all businesses will need to continue to navigate the changes and challenges in the economy. “The UK general election will bring about some changes, and no doubt we will need to see what that brings. The key for me is to listen and continue to ensure that My Controller is relevant for our clients. If we can continue to help them improve their profitability and retained cash, then we will be going in the right direction!”