What makes you more than just an accountant? We’re shining a spotlight on the people who lead the profession and not only crunch the numbers, but offer real advisory value to business owners across the UK. Last month, we featured Freddie Faure who proves that being a trusted advisor is possible from anywhere in the world thanks to technology. Today, we ask Victoria Cooper, founder of Red Shoes Accounting Services, how she sees the future of accountancy and the role of an accountant evolving over the next decade.
Victoria established the Ely-based practice in 2009 in response to raising her family and the firm has gone from strength to strength. She did not wish to establish a traditional accountancy firm, but one with unique values and the name is a reflection of this. Too often accountants are seen as stuffy – Victoria wanted a firm which was friendly, responsive and accessible and which worked very closely with all clients. She has built up a client base which spans broad range of industries, from restaurants and construction, to plumbing and pharmaceutical. “We work closely with them during their business life cycle; that’s quite exciting for us as we like to monitor their progress and help them achieve their business goals.” says Victoria.
It’s rare that Victoria has a day solely based around doing a client’s tax work: “Sometimes it isn’t accountancy – my clients can ask me about operational issues they’re having; they just want a sounding board. Sometimes it’s cash flow concerns they’re worried about and we have to work through those. Sometimes they might want to discuss a particular product which isn’t doing so well.”
Victoria signifies trust as a quality of paramount importance in her role – by doing more than just producing annual accounts at year-end, she enjoys having a continual dialogue with clients throughout the year. When asked what she thinks are the most important qualities of an accountant, Victoria answers: “You’ve got to be willing to learn, because our professional life cycle is based around continuing professional development to keep us up-to-date with the latest changes in tax and reporting standards.”
She also highlights the significance of being qualified – Victoria herself is AAT and ACCA qualified after many years of hard work and adds: “You’ve got to be able to work hard to deadlines – they’re critical in our industry. You also have to enjoy working with people and get on well with them because you’re dealing with your clients face to face and they will look to you for advice and they need to know that they can trust you.”
Attracting new business is a common topic for discussion among accountants. Victoria and Brian, her business development manager, find networking at local events to be to be an effective method to raise their profile. Social media – usually a ‘love it or loathe it’ method of marketing – has also proved a useful string to their bow: “We first tried [social media] two years ago originally; I thought that wasn’t the right thing for us but we went for it and that’s worked really well, especially with Google rankings.” Red Shoes Accounting in particular make effective use of Facebook, Twitter and Linked In and this drives traffic to their newly redeveloped website which really focuses on the needs of clients and includes glowing testimonials for the firm and case studies.
Red Shoes Accounting has also started to adapt its service offering in response to new technologies, as Victoria explains: “We’ve already started to diversify to meet the challenges of cloud accounting. We do offer a full range of services and a virtual finance office whereby clients can outsource their finance function to us via the cloud, so we can look after their financial operations on a daily basis now. That’s been a big change for us.”
She links this change to the rising significance of advisory services: “the added value advisory services we offer are an important and increasingly growing part of what we do…accountants do need to be become more responsive and more ingrained with our clients’ businesses than we have done in the past.”
Watch Victoria’s full interview below:
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