Congratulations to Wood and Disney for being nominated for Small firm of the year at this year’s Accounting Excellence Awards!
Wood and Disney (W&D) delivers business accountancy and advisory services. Their successful practice is led by Peter Disney and Brendon Howlett; with their robust strategies, and 30+ years of experience, their team has helped businesses to grow safely, stably and sustainably in an unpredictable world.
By refreshing their vision and purpose in 2013, they created a legacy business that sets them apart from a crowded accountancy market; their strategy was to switch to serving fewer clients better, and supporting their businesses to outperform in competitive markets.
Aim: Building Better Futures
W&D’s ethos is ‘Building Better Futures’, with which they aim to empower and support ambitious entrepreneurs to build better futures for the next generation. W&D believes that family is the most important part of everyone’s lives, which drives their teams to go above and beyond to understand clients’ individual business needs – and the pressures they face – to help them secure long term success; giving them time, confidence and freedom to enjoy their business and family life.
What are the key factors that have helped W&D thrive?
Fuelling a continuous cycle of happiness and profit
“Balancing cutting edge technology and accounting excellence with our values ‘Make a Difference’, ‘Caring’, ‘A Safe Pair of Hands’ and ‘Approachable and Easy to Talk to’ fuel customer happiness and profit. For example, this year, we have helped a debt-ridden client to achieve a 7-figure bank balance, 600% net profit increase, pay off his HMRC payment plan early, and make significant pension contributions for the very first time.
Meanwhile, 100% of satisfied customers said our services are value for money and 90% praised our structured business advice as “excellent”, reporting improved cash flow, profitability, business growth, financial skills and confidence as our impact on their business.
We have also supported clients to embrace the latest accountancy technology, Capium Hub, Xero and QuickBooks to provide up to date, reliable information, helping them make better decisions, leading to better results.”
Strong and steady wins the race
“W&D’s sustainable ‘business for a lifetime’ ethos has empowered clients to defy the statistic that 73% of businesses fail within 10 years, and enabled us to offer strong and steady support for clients during one of the most economically volatile years to date.
Our values-driven approach focused on helping existing clients rebuild their financial resilience to overcome the residual impact of the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis, so the true demonstration of our ‘growth’ lies in the value of their balance sheets, cash reserves and loyalty levels.
‘Discovery Calls’ supported our ‘quality not quantity’ business strategy, extracting 10% of the ‘right’ clients, rather than 90% of ‘any’ clients. And our ‘Strength, Optimise, Transform’ blueprint prepares our clients for the challenges of tomorrow: Client feedback shows this is working: “They support me in planning ahead, assessing what steps I need to take to help grow my business further, in a way that suits me.”
Customer retention initiatives are fuelling business success: we didn’t lose a single client during the Covid-19 lockdowns, and 100% clients had no objection to our recent 10% monthly fee increase.”
Efficient, tech-powered quality processes
“In the past year, we have done many things, one of them being embracing the latest technology and demonstrating our commitment to CPD to improve efficiency, staff development, and our quality of service. With Capium we have already created the landscape to do more with ease while being at ease!
- Launched a free online ‘Future Proof Business Quiz’, which has already generated £6k alone from bank referrals. The scorecard takes minutes to complete and provides a personalised PDF report on how to improve longevity and resilience.
- Continuously improved our marketing and communications to keep clients up to date with the rate of change. Retained website design in-house to quickly adapt our messaging and adopted AI technology to boost productivity and speed up blog writing.
- Switched to automated accountancy software DEXT Precision to ease the year end accounts and tax return completion, which has kept client tax enquiries at a record 0%. The DEXT Prepare function accelerated processes, reduced human error, and freed up staff to focus on customer interactions.
- Rolled out a ‘pre-yearend tax planning service’ in response to client demand, analysing client results two months before year end and making recommendations to reduce tax bills.
- Supported our office administrator to step up into the Client Care Coordinator role and a client manager to level up her qualifications through ACCA exams.”
Converting challenges into opportunities
“Our biggest challenge over the next 2-5 years will be growing our advisor base to scale-up our success as trusted business partners. We are always on the lookout for aspiring individuals to join our local team, and it’s vital we find the right fit.
Despite placing company culture and values at the heart of our business, we are having to dig deep for robust solutions to persistent challenges within our industry when it comes to accountancy recruitment.
Young finance graduates often lack the optimal skill set of technical accuracy, soft communication and proactive work ethic that is required for the dual role of advisor and accountant. More experienced accountants are resistant to our progressive mindset. We also face unqualified ‘cheap’ WFH competition, although none of our clients objected to a 10% monthly fee increase recently!
While we continue to refine local attraction and retention strategies, we plan to overcome recruitment challenges by growing our offshore team – without Capium, we may not have been able to do this with ease. We appointed two offshore employees this year: not only were they quicker and easier to source than candidates right outside our door, their enthusiastic, hands-on attitude to work is a credit to the Wood & Disney reputation.”
W&D’s advice to other Accountants:
“My personal view is to let others focus on followers and likes. Even hundreds of 5 star reviews can be manipulated. I think trust and credibility is far more important for accountants. Our focus is on helping our clients reach their goals in terms of wealth and success over the long term. We will continue to work with Accounting driven software providers like Capium – helping us continue our growth plan with ease!” Peter Disney, Wood and Disney.