Tax & Accounting Blog

More than just an accountant: Jon Cooper on creating a firm fit for the future

Accountancy Practices, Accounting, Business Strategy & Development November 5, 2018

Not your typical high street practice, CooperFaure was established when Freddie Faure and Jon Cooper joined forces in 2006. Their mission was to provide an information service as well as taking care of the compliance elements of accountancy. The diverse client-base of CooperFaure reflects the way the company is run – from technology and creative, to media and property.

Many London-based start-ups come to the firm for advice, but they also attract an international client base of companies looking to set up subsidiaries in the UK. Brexit doesn’t seem to be having a negative effect on CooperFaure, as Jon comments: “Interestingly, we’re still finding a lot of European companies are moving to the UK, just because it’s so much easier to run a business here. So, it’s much more cost-effective, less bureaucratic… the government’s far more engaged.” He also describes the UK as a business hub ‘especially for innovation and technology’.

Jon won’t mind us saying he’s been in the industry for a while now, so is well placed to predict what lies ahead for the profession. When asked how CooperFaure has changed over the years and their growth, Jon delves into the topic of finding the right clients. As with most accountants, he sees referrals as valuable leads but no longer relies on them. “I think new clients have found us traditionally, until about two years ago.” says Jon, “Referrals have always been the best way for most businesses to get new clients; there’s nothing better than someone else saying ‘go to these people’.”

Jon goes on to explain how the firm started their own sales and marketing department, with the aim of providing a steady stream of clients: “We’re actively seeking clients; we’re doing a lot of webinars, a lot of seminars, regularly publishing newsletters”. He also commends their marketing team’s social media strategy for improving the visibility of the firm’s services.
This brings us onto the subject of recruiting and retaining staff, and the challenges CooperFaure has faced when growing their team:

“Our ethos it’s very much [about] collaboration, we want everyone here to participate and feel they are part of the company. And fit is very important; we’re not necessarily a typical accountancy firm.”

Jon continues, “If you’re going to grow, you’ve got to be on an almost perpetual recruitment process because as you grow, people come and go. It’s almost a pipeline of recruitment and that takes time.”

CooperFaure offers flexible working to expand their talent pool, made possible by technology: “Our idea is that people don’t have to be in the office all day…one of the benefits of the cloud-based solutions means that people don’t have to be in the office to work.” As an example, from time to time the firm’s Swedish sales and marketing manager, Emma, works from home around her pole vaulting career – she regularly competes athletics championships across Europe.

When asked what qualities are required in his profession, Jon implies that few accountants possess every quality and he and Freddie play to their own unique strengths: “In CooperFaure, Freddie is the analytical one. She has an eye for detail…she could see a number that looks out in a tree of numbers. I’m a big-picture man; I’m about taking a business idea and making it develop and grow and planning and forecasting.”

Jon continues, “I think these are both vitally important roles for an accountant, I think it’s very hard for one person to have all of those qualities within themselves… this is where teamwork and collaboration are the key drivers for a successful accountant and a successful accountancy business.” He describes the role of an accountant as ‘a sounding board for people to talk about their dreams and aspirations and not just around business’ and adds, “You get that relationship with clients because you are so privy to their financial information and trusted on that level, it tends to become a much broader sort of level of trust and you become a confidant.”

And what does the next decade hold? Jon describes being ‘at the start of a pivotal 10 years in the world of accountancy’ and cites advances in technology and Artificial Intelligence as key drivers for change. When asked about the future of CooperFaure, Jon says, “In the next 10 years, we’re looking to grow it to be a multi-sites business. I say ‘sites’ rather than offices because I think that the role of a traditional office is also one of the things that’s going to change in the next few years.” He appreciates the collaboration of everyone coming together in a traditional office, but states that “with technology and video conferencing, we want to be in a position to allow people to get on with their lives and work remotely, work from home; why not allow that freedom?”

Watch Jon’s full interview below:

If you enjoyed this interview, why not read Victoria Cooper’s story on the rise of advisory services in the accountancy industry.

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