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Accounting Excellence

Accounting Excellence 2021 award winners unveiled

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Hosted by comedians Rachel Parris and Marcus Brigstocke, and with 20 trophies up for grabs, the Accounting Excellence Awards gave the accounting community a chance to reconnect and celebrate after a locked down 2020. Find out who were the evening’s big winners.   

21st Oct 2021
Editor AccountingWEB
In association with
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The Accounting Excellence Awards returned to The Brewery in London this evening to recognise the best in class in accountancy over the past 12 months. The finalists and VIPs were back in black tie to walk the red carpet in person after 2020’s virtual celebration switched the dress code to loungewear chic. 

Coming off a year of lockdown support, the entries all demonstrated a clear focus on client service and digital delivery. Many of the entrants also shifted towards the outsourced finance director approach to meet the needs of their clients on a more regular basis. 

The mental strain of lockdown and pressure of remote working and long hours on employees was reflected in the emphasis on staff happiness as a key metric this year. And more of the award winning firms put the spotlight on diversity and inclusion as a key consideration. 

Many of the winners will be revealing the secrets behind their success at AccountingWEB Live Expo on 1-2 December in Coventry. They’ll be joined by previous winners and experts on panels tackling some of the key challenges and opportunities rasied by this year’s entrants. The award entries were scrutinised by judges such as Rebecca Benneyworth, Paul Aplin, Julia Penny, Kate Upcraft and past winners like Alastair Barlow, Aysnley Damery, Nathan Keeley and more.  

Brigstocke and Parris

Multiple award winners rule the night

A few winners managed to retain trophies from last year, including large firm of the year Kreston Reeves, which pipped South West firm Albert Goodman to the prize. 

Ria-Jaine Lincoln of the Beauty Accountant was another returning winner, building on her Hero award in 2020 by picking up the sole practitioner of the year award. 

And no strangers to the Accounting Exellence Awards, Niki and Nigel Adams from Ad Valorem won the practice pioneer award in a hard fought category. 

After losing the crown to Pell Artists for a couple of years, Jeffreys Henry once again lifted the specialist team of the year award. After its hospitality team won back in 2018, Jeffreys Henry impressed the judges this year with its fast growing team providing audits for small-cap companies listed on AIM. 

There was also a new multiple award winner on the night. Carrying two trophies back to their table this year were Makesworth Accountants, winning gongs in the fast-track and client service category - showing that the two pursuits are not mutually exclusive.

PKF Littlejohn claimed two individual awards; one for the rising star of the year and an individual hero award.

The Accounting Excellence Awards recognised the indispensable efforts from tax and payroll teams in processing and interpreting Covid support by launching two new categories. Picking up the maiden awards were AVS VAT Consultancy Ltd and Mazars

Meanwhile, the Hero Awards returned to celebrate beyond the call of duty efforts from firms, individuals and software suppliers in supporting clients and their local community over the past year. 

The evening started off with a celebration for the 2020 award winning firms that missed out on a well deserved party and on-stage recognition. AccountingWEB’s Richard Hattersley called to the stage last year’s winners for a well deserved round of applause. 

Accounting Excellence 2020 winners

The Accounting Excellence winners 2021: The full list

Accounting Excellence

Small Firm of the Year, sponsored by FreeAgent

  • Headline FD
  • Linford Grey Associates
  • Portt & Co
  • Raedan - WINNER
  • The Online Accountant

The judges were impressed by Raedan’s focus on client experience and how the firm showed true leadership in implementing technology and advisory services - where “onboarding never really ends”. Raeden works like an outside CFO where the accountants assess their clients’ needs every three months.

Medium Firm of the Year, sponsored by Xero

  • Accountancy Cloud - WINNER
  • Ad Valorem Group
  • Goringe Accountants Ltd
  • PJCO Chartered Certified Accountants
  • Scholes CA
  • Sobell Rhodes LLP

Offering digital-first finance, online accounting and CFO support for startups and SMEs, Accountancy Cloud displayed an innovative and bold approach. The firm initiatives include a customer success team that works with each client every quarter, technology-driven advisory services that have secured millions in investment for clients. The firm has done all of this while fostering a culture that meets the needs of its millennial and genZ employees. 

Large Firm of the Year

  • Albert Goodman
  • Duncan & Toplis
  • Grunberg & Co
  • Johnston Carmichael
  • Kreston Reeves - WINNER
  • Milsted Langdon

Picking up the award for the second year in a row, Kreston Reeves impressed the judges as a large firm that clients genuinely love working with. This comes as no surprise given its adoption of new technology, sustainable development goals and innovation in its systems and processes. As well as supporting its clients, Kreston Reeves demonstrated an exemplary staff strategy for such a large firm, with considerable investment in training and wellbeing initiatives. 

The judges also gave a ‘highly commended’ to Albert Goodman for its diversity and marketing strategy.  

New Firm of the Year, sponsored by Go Proposal by Sage

  • Alchemy Accountancy
  • Gareth Lawrence Ltd
  • Gravitate Accounting Ltd
  • Heaton Vences
  • Kennedy Accountancy
  • Vibrant Accountancy - WINNER

Based in Derby, Vibrant promises clients “a different accountancy partnership to the norm”, with straight-talking experts who will challenge you and ask the right questions to push you forward. Backing up this manifesto with a strong organisational backbone, Vibrant’s focus on documenting and systemising processes added an extra layer of excellence to sway the judging panel.

Our judges also wanted to commend Alchemy Accountancy for its focus on the creative and tech sector, and the development of its in-house marketing agency.

Fast-track Firm of the Year, sponsored by Sage

  • CBTax Limited
  • Inform Accounting Ltd
  • Makesworth Accountants - WINNER
  • Sterling Accounting Solutions

The judges noted how Makesworth had grown by expanding services directly to look after clients better- backed up by high lead conversion and strong recommendation scores. With a clear vision, obvious metrics and a business strategy that prioritises their team, Makesworth Accountants is a worthy winner of Fast-track Firm of the Year 2021.

Investing in People Award, sponsored by Dext

  • Ad Valorem
  • Charterhouse (Accountants) Ltd
  • Inform Accounting
  • Sobell Rhodes - WINNER
  • Wilson Partners Ltd

Our judges all agreed that Sobell Rhodes LLP is a firm that’s not just ticking boxes. Built on a strong company framework, Sobell Rhodes offers wide-ranging training and development opportunities with a focus on happiness. Strong client feedback proves this is an approach that is not only valued internally, but also converts to growth.

Client Service Award, sponsored by World First

  • DNS Accountants
  • Infinity Partnership
  • Inform Accounting
  • Jeffreys Henry
  • Kreston Reeves
  • Makesworth Accountants - WINNER
  • Pentins Business Advisers
  • PJCO Chartered Certified Accountants

Innovation is key to this award and the way Makesworth uses data smartly to track client performance prompted its second award of the night. The firm even has a client satisfaction office in place. Showing a good balance between using tech to support clients and the human touch, this award was well deserved.

The judges offered a highly commended to PJCO Chartered Certified Accountants, which demonstrated a strong pandemic response with clear metrics and KPIs.

Sole Practitioner of the Year

  • CRC Accountancy
  • LJM Bookkeeping
  • The Beauty Accountant - WINNER

Our judges noted that as well as an honest appreciation of the sector’s challenges and how to face them, The Beauty Accountant showed excellent growth in a really difficult year for the beauty industry. The firm also demonstrated a smart understanding of how to use PR to generate awareness while using third parties to generate work. 

This award builds on the Hero Award its founder Ria-Jaine Lincoln picked up at the 2020 Accounting Excellence Awards. 

Bookkeeping Team of the Year

  • Arden Bookkeeping Ltd
  • Corient Business Solutions Ltd
  • LJM Bookkeeping
  • Safe Hands Bookkeeping Ltd - WINNER
  • The Accounts Place

Our judges agreed the firm went the extra mile to understand its clients, extending that approach to a unique Safe Hands culture that included its own team. Here is a firm that is building a culture where client care is at the heart of what it does. One judge said “They inspired me to do better.”

Specialist Team of the Year

  • Cooper Parry R&D Incentives
  • Cooper Parry Retail
  • Jeffreys Henry - WINNER
  • Next Level Business
  • Writers Tax Ltd

The judges said Jeffreys Henry’s audit team has its fingers on the pulse of the competition - so the firm knows where it needs to be to compete, grow and survive. A mid-tier firm genuinely taking on the top of the mid-tier for audit work,

Tax Team of the Year

  • AVS VAT Consultancy Ltd - WINNER
  • Charterhouse (Accountants) Ltd
  • Infinity Partnership

A niche VAT advisory firm that combines direct strategic aims with a clear mission to deliver VAT expertise, AVS VAT consultancy is clearly well managed and profitable and displays a real understanding of its market and its place in it.

Payroll Team of the Year

  • Connected Voice Business
  • Mazars - WINNER
  • Nicholson & Co Accountancy
  • Whitley Stimpson

From investing in career development for its staff to launching a cloud-based payroll system to assist remote working, this was a winning entry that ticked all the boxes and more. Displaying impressive growth and launching smart client support processes while managing to take on 13 new team members, there’s no wonder Mazars is our Payroll Team of the Year.

Practice Pioneer of the Year

  • Lucy Cohen
  • Nikki and Nigel Adams - WINNER
  • Reza Hooda
  • Sergio Avalos

Ad Valorem director Nikki Adams and MD Nigel Adams have ticked all the Accounting Excellence boxes: smart use of tech to driven the shift to advisory, strong focus on team development, a great team-driven culture, a high level of collaboration with other practices plus amazing growth in both turnover and staff numbers. 

The judges also offered a highly commended to Mazuma’s Lucy Cohen.

Hero Award: Accounting firm, sponsored by PracticeWeb 

  • Beach Accountants Ltd - WINNER
  • Headline FD
  • Maslins Ltd
  • Sterling Finance UK Ltd

North East-based Beach Accountants picked up the Hero Award after supporting both its clients and the wider community throughout the lockdown, displaying commitment above and beyond the cause. Adapting existing processes as well as bringing in all-new initiatives, Beach Accountants also looked after its team and encouraged its people to look after each other and share in their successes through the year. More treats will be on the way after gaining this prestigious award.

Hero Award: Individual

  • James Twigger, Accounting 4 Everything
  • Jennifer Barker, Digital Bookkeeping
  • Paul Layte, Next Level Business
  • Shona Barker, PKF Littlejohn - WINNER
  • Trent Mclaren

The judges all agreed that Shona Barker is setting an amazing example to her colleagues in a medium-sized firm. Whether supporting colleagues' mental health, encouraging the younger generation or offering great care and support to clients, Shona stood out from an impressive selection of dedicated accountants and industry experts.

Rising Star of the Year

  • Chloe Leslie, Infinity Partnership
  • George Moss, Bee Motion
  • Lewis Reynolds, Unico 3
  • Rose Morgan, PKF Littlejohn - WINNER
  • Victoria Bretherick, Accounting Connections

An ambitious young accountant already developing strengths in specialised tax niches, Rose Morgan received fantastic feedback from clients and staff alike as she pushed herself to meet the toughest deadlines.

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Hear more stories from Accounting Excellence at AccountingWEB Live Expo on 1-2 December in Coventry. 

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