Practice Talk: Simon Cowie from Infinity Partnership
What does a day in the life of an award winner look like? 2018’s small practice of the year award winner Simon Cowie talks to AccountingWEB about just that.
Aberdeen-based Infinity Partnership picked up the highly competitive small practice of the year award last year thanks in large part to the practice’s advisory service, which helped spearhead 20 mergers, acquisitions and investment deals in 2017.
In a region fraught with economic problems, Infinity Partnership has gone some way to secure jobs and rescue a subsea businesses and turn the fortunes of a loss making business into multi-million pound turnover company.
Cowie’s Infinity Partnerships also managed to pip his small practice rivals due to its fruitful pivot into R&D tax claims and also its ingenious Dragon’s Den-style event, which attracted plenty of interest from their high-net-worth clients. And the firm’s hard work is paying off with 350 new clients added to their roster in 2017, largely through word of mouth.
As managing partner at Infinity Partnerships, Cowie was, of course, thrilled to receive the award from last year’s host Rachel Riley (pictured below): “The award win was recognition of the team’s efforts. Our core market – companies in the Aberdeen energy sector – was severely disrupted by the low oil price. We had to adapt from being a leader in mergers and acquisitions to an adviser in how to deal with the change in market conditions.”
So, what does a day look like at the small practice of the year? Let’s find out. AccountingWEB spoke to Cowie from his firm’s 1700’s-type building, which has been converted into an open plan over four floors in Aberdeen’s west-end.
The office is manned between 6am and 9pm. We've got staggered shifts which fit in with people's lifestyles. I will drop the kids off about 7am and then arrive at the office sometime before 8am if I have an early morning meeting or if I am speaking with a client overseas.
I can't work from home. I'm easily distracted. I need the discipline of an office environment, otherwise I'll go and make sure the garden is tended and the cleaning is done.
The day is dictated by clients and appointments. I've now got the luxury of clients coming to me, rather than me having to go to them. On the basis that one day can be totally different from the next, depending on what is happening and what clients are desperate to meet me or not.
Most of life is spent in meetings. The managers will take over thereafter. There are four client relationship managers and two assistant managers now. They tend to come to meetings and action what is required. My role then is more business development and problem-solving which is all about adding value to the client -- that's our mantra.
I'll usually go for a wander with a coffee at lunch. I put my phone on silent and have some contemplation time. It's good to get some exercise and walk around the block, but it depends on the weather. Aberdeen is not really known for its weather.
We’re a flexible working firm. Flexible working is good for the staff. They've all got different commitments with children and families. I think it helps with retention and morale. We have one chap who comes in at 6am. It's his choice because that means he can leave at 3pm/3.30pm to pick up the kids from school.
The two last things I do before I finish for the day at 6pm/7pm is to update my timesheets and then plan out what I am doing the next day. Then I leave notes for people in their in-trays so they can pick up in the morning.
My phone is never within two feet of me at home. I'm compulsive about emails. It's bad. But if I'm helping the kids with their homework or something like that then I wouldn't be checking my phone. It takes all my brainpower to workout maths these days.
My weekends are children dominated, between horse riding, walks in the park and cycling and keeping the kids active. I sometimes have a few sociable drinks on a Saturday night and I chat throughout the day with my wife.