50 years of accountancy marked with make-over

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 1 Dec 2017

HALF a century of accounting has been totted up by Cleethorpes’ Blow Abbott & Co, as the partners continue to follow the founder’s appreciation of technology to provide a broadened service to their clients.

A permanent fixture on the resort’s High Street for 50 years, Denis Blow – who remains in the business – first examined companies’ books from there in 1967.

Now completely rebranded inside and out, with an impressive reception area, Denis’ grandson Elliot Beaumont and Graham Dawson are the partners at the helm of the 24-employee firm.

Cloud accounting, business and financial advice, and a raft of allied services including legal and payroll are now propelling Blow Abbott onwards.

Mr Beaumont, who joined the firm in 2009, said: “We have taken a step back over the last year to see what the business model is and what we want it to look like going forward. Being around for so many years, businesses can get stuck in their ways, and that can make change more difficult.

“We have embarked on that journey, and while there is still plenty to do, we are evolving into a firm of the future.

“From the punch card computing through to the original BBC computers and latest typewriters, Denis was always involved in that sort of thing, so we are continuing a theme in that respect.”

The transformation from handling hoards of receipts and invoices to a paperless system that links with clients’ book-keeping has been quite a step, but it is also enabling the company to help clients get on the front foot.

Stuart Leafe, business development manager at Blow Abbott, who ran with the rebranding, said: “We are trying to introduce a new concept of accounting to clients,” he said. “HMRC is pushing making tax digital, and that is a lead into cloud accounting for people, and also changes how people see tax advice. We are looking at a use of software and investing in software that can pull out tax planning in an all-encompassing manner. 

“Now we are looking at developing the advisory side of our role. Book-keeping has been commoditised by the arrival of cloud accounting and we want to develop stronger relationships with clients so we can have real-time conversations to allow them to make informed decisions. A lot of this is about how we dissect information, and that is a far more interesting and exciting side of accounting for me, for Elliot and for others in the firm.

“We want to feel like we have done a good job, and we want the client to feel that we have done a good job. The movement to cloud accounting will bring that in to focus more.”

It has also been at the forefront of additional services.

While Mr Dawson provides financial advice on areas such as pensions and advice, three years ago Blow Abbott was one of the first accountancy practices in the region to offer selected legal services, having taken advantage of the ICAEW becoming a regulator and licensing authority for member firms. It was a step that saw areas of law opened up to alternative business structures.

“That has grown quite a lot in the last three years,” said Sophie Vines, who is a qualified barrister intermediary with the Legal Services Guild, and is a director of Blow Abbott Legal Services. “It is a big area for us, with probate and estate administration,” she said.

Like accountancy, software has played a big part in the development of a dedicated payroll bureau too, headed by Ellie Bridge.

“We vetted the industry, we went to several conferences to make sure we got the right software and some clear winners came out on top,” Mr Beaumont said, having opted for Xero.

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