The Most Innovative UK Accountancy Firm 2016
Formed as a start-up firm of chartered accountants, Aspen Waite has grown to become a recognised firm of business advisors. We got in touch with Paul Waite, CEO of Aspen Waite, to learn more about their company and how they are committed to building their brand as the logical choice for SMEs.
In the beginning, I formed Aspen Waite as a firm of chartered accountants in 1993 in Somerset. Despite our humble beginnings, it has always been an ambitious firm and was involved in several international consulting contracts from an early stage.
Over time, expansions to Aspen Waite initially took place to the East of England, which lead to the opening of an office in Hampshire. Around five years ago, I took the decision to position the business as a professional services organisation rather than a firm of chartered accountants. Interaction with customers led me to conclude that there was a huge gap in the market for a firm to offer a wide range of services to SMEs. If anything I underestimated the potential in the market and success has led to other like-minded people being attracted.
Looking further down the road, we have set ourselves the goal of being market leaders in R&D tax credits for what is traditionally called the SME sector. What has led to the steady growth of our business is that we believe in making it as easy as possible to sell, and by removing barriers to this wherever possible. With this in mind, and to remain consistent in what we do, we had to become a truly nationwide business. In late November 2015 we launched our Complete Business Growth Service. The timing turned out to be excellent given the government’s decision to close down its Business Growth Service shortly after.
Despite our success to date, we are certainly not resting on our laurels. In my world, nothing is ever good enough, and what was good enough yesterday is not good enough today. As such, we are always looking to improve and move forward. Given the rate of progress, I genuinely believe that Aspen Waite is the most Innovative firm in the professional services sector. Naturally I am very proud as the Chief Executive and Visionary that our innovation has been recognised by Acquisition International.
More specifically speaking, my most important innovation I believe was my decision to work with non-accountants. I remember the very first Growth Accelerator event I presented at and realising that the coaches in the room were very much like me, and much more so than any feeling I ever had with other accountants.
At the same time, we accept the idea of being challenged and in this way Aspen Waite can benefit from new ideas and benefit from different viewpoints. Furthermore, establishing what I call “Equal Motivation” by rewarding introducers was a huge step and also introduced us to even more quality people. On the whole, all of what we do ultimately revolves around collaboration. In my view, pretty much everything we do breaks the mould and we have several USPs, not least our guarantee of “anywhere, any fee, any sector”. We passionately believe that ALL businesses deserve at least the basics of great business and tax planning.
As someone who is passionate about marketing and believes that all businesses should seek to differentiate themselves from their competitors, I do not think we have any natural competition as such. Nonetheless, one has to recognise that in business one is always potentially vulnerable to larger fish swimming above you who play the “big firm” card and smaller fish below you picking up clients and offering low cost. Our approach is very personal and added value based, so on the whole we find our client base grows sustainably. Alongside this approach, no successful business can ever stand still, and it should always look to change and adapt and, most importantly, give people what they really want.
I know that this is a bit of a cliché, but any business (or team for that matter) is only as good as the people in it. I have a strong training background and we believe in investing in people for our future. Across the board, we have a very diverse range of staff and I say this in every conceivable sense, by discipline, by education, by location, even culturally. We did not have a Marketing Team until two years ago and perhaps more than any division they have transformed the business. From my experience, attracting good people, as well as operating a time mentoring and reward structure really does work.
As a very forward-thinking firm, we always have our eye on any emerging developments or trends in our industry. The biggest challenge in any businesses is to adapt and pro-act to change in the market, and this more often than not involves technology. The way business is done in the future will be very different, and we are fast approaching the age of Star Trek technology, with holograms and even more use of videos / visuals.
Looking back on how difficult the past number of years have been for the business world, I firmly believe that, in the long-run, the recession was good for business, and people now are far more discerning about what they want. Despite the constant changes in our industry, it never ceases to amaze me how many accountants offer no advice and are basically generating out postcards from the past, I like to play “heads up”. With all of these aspects in mind, we are very optimistic that our company will continue to grow and prosper. For the first time in our history we will be exhibiting at 5 Business Expos, starting on the 14th April at Windsor. We also have vacancies for Regional Managers in Scotland, NW & NE England and East Anglia (see our website – www.aspenwaite. co.uk). On the whole, we aim to build on our current success and hopefully shape a sustainable legacy as a firm that cared about business and added value.