Graham Smith is the director of Cunningtons Accountants.
Unusually, Graham has been with the same practice his entire career. He started at Cunningtons Accountants as an 18-year-old trainee, qualified there at 22, and became a partner at 25. Although a scary responsibility at such a young age it provided great experience.
The practice has grown and developed and gone through various iterations but it’s a small team of seven now, supported by extensive use of outsourced resources. Graham has been an early adopter both in offering advisory services and digitalising his practice, but some of the clients he still has now are clients he had on his first day at the practice – albeit having passed to the next generation in these family-owned businesses.
Being an early adopter of the cloud, his practice did not have any trouble supporting clients during the pandemic. He had been thinking of blended working to give his team flexibility with their hours before the pandemic but once the pandemic happened, it was an easy decision to shift his team to home-working, as they were already fully equipped with the appropriate technology. The office has now re-opened, but staff divide their time between working in the office and working at home.
His team get a huge breadth of experience because of the range of services that the practice offers. They’re trusted to both do tasks they’ve previously done and encouraged to try new tasks. Where they’re doing something for the first time, the work is reviewed and if they haven’t done it right then it’s a good learning experience for them as Graham walks them through what they should have done. There is no blame and it’s a positive and nurturing environment to learn in – if you get your team engaged in a whole range of services across a client then they’ll pick up the bigger picture sooner.
One of the newer offerings is in probate and estate administration. Recognising that accountants already have a comprehensive knowledge of their clients’ affairs it made perfect sense for Graham to take the ACCA qualification enabling this service to be added to the practice portfolio.
Graham also does registered auditor work – when other small practices were giving up audit work, he went in the opposite direction and continues to build his audit portfolio with referrals from other practitioners. He’s a big believer in collaboration between practitioners – it’s hugely helpful to discuss staffing, technical and software issues with like-minded practitioners.