Joining Practice Talk this week is Andrew Griggs, who is a senior partner at the 2018 Accounting Excellence large firm of the year award winner Kreston Reeves.
Griggs joined Kreston Reeves in 1992, after training and qualifying at Spicer & Pegler/Deloitte. He was brought in as a manager in Kreston Reeves’ Canterbury office before he was made partner four years later.
The Accounting Excellence Large firm win was the cherry on what has been a fruitful career. At Kreston Reeves, with others, Griggs has had the opportunity to take what was a £6m turnover firm in East Kent to what is now a £38-£40m turnover practice in London and the South East.
While some might feel content with such an accolade on the resume, one of Griggs’ failings-- by his own admission-- is that he’s always seeking to do more. That’s what drives him.
Griggs’ passion for growth comes through in this week’s Practice Talk, where he reflects on how accountants are not just sitting behind a desk, and what this mindset means for a healthier work-life balance.
What's the first thing you do when you start your working day?
Whichever office I am going to, I will always go and talk to people before I log on to the system. But it depends if you count that as the start or if you class the start of the working day when you collect your bag from the study and check your emails that have come in overnight.
You mentioned emails which have become an issue with accountants checking well beyond those old fashioned 'traditional working hours' - is this something you're guilty of?
The short answer is yes, but I think it is important to understand why. Emails can be invasive into people's personal lives but we now live in the 24/7 world. I have a number of international clients and I sit on the board of Kreston’s international network. So I am talking to people in India, the west coast of America, and Australia who operate in different time zones. If you think about how the world is becoming smaller, it is kind of inevitable.
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I see it more linked to a more agile and flexible working arrangement. When I was training you had a nine-to-five mentality because the world was not as open outside those hours as it is now. People may say they need personal time from 3-5pm but then make up the time in the evening.
Many firms are feeling the always-on culture is becoming an increasing problem. What has your firm done to ease this stress?
We are very focused on the work-life balance for our people and we have a number of initiatives. We do see a cultural shift from one of the long hours to a healthier work-life balance. People can work from home, from any office in the practice, and they can flex their hours.
We now have a wellbeing team and ambassadors in all the offices. At the moment, they have been providing training on techniques such as resilience and mindfulness. We recognise the increasing demand for a work-life balance and we have to adapt accordingly.
You've got four generations of people in the business so you're going to have at least two generations who are more used to a more workcentric lifestyle than the other two. Both generations have to understand where each other group have come from but carrying on as it was before is not an option these days.
What do you do to escape the world of tax and accounts?
I love to spend time with my wife and two teenage children. The teenage children are at university now, so communication is more by WhatsApp and Facetime than human interaction. But at least we are communicating. I also enjoy cycling, playing tennis, skiing and walking because a lot of my time is spent inside.
Since you qualified what's been the biggest change?
When I qualified life was more about advising clients based on what happened in the past. We still do that to some extent but now it is more real time and the future. I think when I qualified there was more a master-server relationship in an organisation and now it is one of people together. I think also clients expect you to be there when they need you, rather than us telling clients when we are available. Historically, clients would come to see us, which they still do; but we probably see them more. It's less about sitting behind a desk and more about being out and about with clients in the marketplace.
Can you remember your first calculator?
Sadly, I can remember buying it as well. I was about 14 or 15 and it was a Casio scientific calculator - quite lumpy - and again I showing my age, we were using slide rules for maths at school. It was great because it used to allow you to do things more quickly. When in maths I was learning the square route and Pi and I always remember 3.141592654 flashing up on my calculator.
The Accounting Excellence awards are back. Enter the awards today and you never know, you could be collecting an award like Andrew and Kreston Reeves did last year.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's Practice Editor. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.